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Market your dealership ahead because we spend ahead

Neil Pascale, Columnist
October 16, 2013
Filed under Columns

Yes, I work in a male-dominated industry.

Yes, I share many of the familiar likes and dislikes of that crowd.

And yes, I recently watched an entire, 45-minute webinar on the how-tos of wedding planning. And no, I wasn’t planning on getting married.

There, I said it. Wow, that was painful.

But let me tell you why I watched that webinar. There are companies in the wedding planning industry that have absolutely nailed a concept that we should look upon as holy ground. They refer to it as “behavioral marketing,” which sounds way too sophisticated for my purposes.

Essentially it boils down to talking to the consumer when they’re the most interested in listening. In other words, when their hand is on their wallet and they’re asking, “How much did you say?”

The trick is identifying that golden time.

In the wedding planning industry, there are companies that have studied their consumers so that they understand each and every nuisance. How many months before the wedding does the bride purchase a dress? They know. How many months before the wedding do they pick out flowers? They know that too.
Think about that — it’s not the wedding date that matters the most, but the timed nuisances before it. One company in the wedding planning industry took note of this and totally redesigned its email marketing messages. No more was the email stating, “It’s three months before your magical day, check out this assortment of …” It was, “It’s three months before your wedding, it’s time to buy your dress!”

And the responses to those emails and the sales they triggered were staggering.

Behavioral marketing. Identifying consumer behavior to better understand when they’re willing to buy. And guess what? It’s totally different than the “hunting day opener” concept that many of us cling to.

On the opener, everything happens that day. The hunt. The results, or lack thereof. The stories afterwards. It’s all about that day.

And that’s how many of us approach marketing. If the hunting season opener is Oct. 1, then many of us hit our consumers with marketing messages in late September, perhaps thinking the hunter doesn’t really start thinking about the opener until, well, the opener.

But the behavioral marketing analysis and results that happen in other retail industries tell us that’s all wrong — that we as consumers think ahead, and more importantly, spend ahead.

Right after school got back in session this year, Google released statistics about back-to-school shoppers. You know when consumers spent the most time shopping for back-to-school items? In July! Two months ahead of when their kids grumpily went back to school. You know when parents did the most buying? In August — weeks before the big date.

This all struck me as I recently prepared for a webinar Dominion Powersports Solutions and Suzuki teamed up on. We were going to discuss ways to improve service department promotions and sales. So I spent an afternoon looking at dozens of dealership websites. And I can recall only a few that showed me photos of hunting units or marketing messages that addressed the upcoming hunting season.

Or better yet, a rotator ad on a dealership homepage that reminded me to get my four-wheeler serviced for the coming opener. Or a rotator ad with a time-dated special to get my UTV inspected by a trained professional so my hunting season stories were memorable and not angst-ridden.

Behavioral marketing, to me, simply suggests the following: we shop, we spend and then we do.

So stop asking me to spend when I’m ready to do something. It’s too late.

And while I’m making requests, please don’t ask me to watch another 45-minute webinar on wedding planning…

Neil Pascale is the Business Development Manager for Dominion Powersports Solutions, a dealer service company that includes PowerSports Network, Cycle Trader, Traffic Log Pro, Ziios and Dominion Insights. He can be reached at neil.pascale@dominionpowersports.com.

 

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