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Are you hosting the wrong kind of event?

August 30, 2011
Filed under From the Editors

Events have always been a form of marketing for most dealerships, but they’ve become more prevalent in the past few years as dealers are reaching out to invite more customers into their stores to encourage more spending.

Though most dealerships host events, some might be wondering why their events are unsuccessful, while the dealer down the street sees thousands at his jamborees. What are you doing wrong?

Here’s a quick how-to NOT host an event:

  • Do NOT market your event. The best way to see the least amount of traffic is to not tell customers about it. Don’t advertise locally, don’t hand out fliers in your dealership and at pertinent events, don’t add the event to your online calendar, don’t send out e-newsletter alerts, don’t send direct mail and don’t ask your customers to bring a friend.
  • Do NOT post your event on social media sites. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Foursquare will lead to increased traffic at your event. If you don’t want too many people to come, avoid posting it to your wall or creating a Facebook event page. Also, avoid reminding followers in the weeks, days and hours leading up to the event.
  • Only host a simple open house. Invite only the few customers who are your friends and regulars to stop by. Simply put out a few tables and chairs, coffee and donuts, and don’t plan anything special or themed.
  • Do NOT offer food. Free food will only entice more people to stop and look around. Spending a couple hundred dollars on even some hot dogs and hamburgers would barely be worth it if you sold a few $20,000 motorcycles, right?
  • Do NOT schedule events throughout the year. One event in 12 months should be sufficient if your goal is only to see a few customers and market a few vehicles and current-season specials. You wouldn’t want to celebrate holidays, special occasions, or any other day at your dealership anyway.
  • Do NOT invite families. Even though most motorcyclists have families, events should be geared only toward the rider. Women never buy gear, right? And you wouldn’t want the rider’s kids growing up enjoying the sport and familiarizing themselves with your dealership. Plus if you don’t invite families, fewer people will show up, and if Dad can’t promise clowns, balloons or facepainting, there’s less of a chance that he’ll make it out to your event in the first place.

I think you get the point. Yes, that may be a little sarcastic, but take a serious look at your events. Are they boring? Is traffic low despite your efforts? Maybe there are just a few things going wrong, and you need a quick refresher or even a first-time course on events. After all, most of us entered this business because we’re enthusiasts, not event planners.

To learn a lot more about event planning, attend “The 3 Hottest Events That Move Bikes,” a dealer panel featuring advice from your peers who have hosted events successfully and can help you do the same. The panel will be featured in the Sales & Marketing track of Profit Xcelerator, Powersports Business’ Conference and Expo, held Sept. 25-27 at the Red Rock Casino Resort and Spa in Las Vegas. The conference will feature 13 other sessions, along with bonus classes, networking receptions and more. Register for ProfitX here, and expect to be hosting better events as soon as this winter.

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