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Jun. 15, 2009 – Many dealers increase online ad spending

June 15, 2009
Filed under Features

By Liz Walz
Contributing writer
When it comes to online media, powersports dealers are talking with their wallets.
Sixty-nine percent of respondents to a national Powersports Business dealer survey indicated that online media made up part of their advertising budget in 2008, and 48 percent reported the percentage of their total advertising budget spent on online media was higher in 2008 than the year before. Forty-five percent reported spending on online ads was about the same as the previous year, according to the survey of 150 dealers conducted by Irwin Broh & Associates, a marketing research company based in Des Plaines, Ill.
On average, dealers spent about 29.5 percent of their advertising budget last year on online marketing, the survey found.
Many factors appear to have contributed to these results. For one, dealers under the pressure of today’s economic conditions have to make tough decisions about their marketing budgets.
John Gardner, president of Oregon powersports dealership Mt. Hood Polaris, says his market has been particularly hard hit.
“I went from selling 600 ATVs a year … we’ll be lucky if we sell 200 this year,” he said.
On top of that, the expense of television and even Yellow Page advertising has skyrocketed in recent years, and the results seem to have worsened, he says. A recent TV advertising blitz the dealership conducted during the playoffs in conjunction with Victory motorcycles seemed like a guaranteed shoe-in, he says. But the dealership didn’t receive one phone call as a result.
With less to spend, dealerships are more insistent than ever that advertising deliver a return on investment. It can be difficult to track the results of television, radio and other forms of traditional advertising. However, online media results are easily tracked. Traffic data is typically available through Web site providers or can be obtained for free through sites like Google Analytics.
In addition, powersports enthusiasts, like most consumers, are increasingly turning to the Web to research and make purchases, and dealers are responding. Mt. Hood Polaris, which spends about half of its advertising budget on online media, uses Web site provider PowerSports Network to post all its inventory on its Web site, advertises inventory on Trader’s online site and also lists units on Craig’s List.
Dennis and Patti Kanegae, founders of California-based powersports firm NineFiftyOne Marketing, say dealers are definitely spending more time on their own Web sites.
“We believe their Web site drives much of the business,” they say. “Because it is so easily updated with new content, it is very efficient and cost effective to use.”
Mark Porter, owner of Porter’s Toys for Big Boys, a powersports dealership in Brookings, S. D., says all of his company’s new and used units are listed on its Web site, www.porterstoys.com. The dealership also offers an online parts catalog that it is in the process of connecting to its vendors’ catalogs.
“We get a lot of response from the Web site,” said Porter. “People will say: ‘I saw this unit on your Web page. Do you still have it?’ It’s worth the investment by far. In fact, we’ve cut back on print ads and radio ads and put more into it. And I think we’re going to cancel Yellow Pages.”
In addition, Porter’s is one of two dozen powersports dealers that list inventory on www.kelolandautomall.com, an online mall created by a local television station on which cars, trucks, commercial vehicles, boats, motorcycles, RVs, ATVs, snowmobiles, personal watercraft, trailers and agriculture equipment for sale are listed.
Of the 150 dealership survey respondents, 57 percent reported that all of their new units for sale are advertised on their Web site. Fifteen percent said most of them, 12 percent said some of them, 7 percent said few of them and 9 percent said none of them.

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