‘Best of’ Confessions of a Customer

As 2015 winds down, MPN staff took a look back through Eric Anderson's Confessions of a Customer and highlighted a few of the year's best columns.

(Jan. 2015) Exit Or Entry… Classic Catch-22 Conundrum
It’s a peculiar time in America with “gray hairs” and “Millennials” vying for positions in the marketplace. Are you a mature company looking to sell and retire soon? Or are you a new company looking to make your “mark” on the American marketplace? The Baby Boomers want “out” and youth wants “in” – the problem is the oldsters want big money and their kids don’t have it. Hell, many Millennials are still trying to pay off their student loans while living at home with the parents. Looks like a classic Catch-22.

Whether you are a dealer celebrating your 40th year in business or a cottage-industry aftermarket manufacturer doing the same, the problem is the same: Do you sell it off to family, employees or an outside investor? Has the industry rebounded enough for you to get out without losing your shirt? Will the financial folks ease the restrictions enough for the youth to get into the game? Exit or entry, everyone is still asking the same question: Where do we go from here?

It’s never too soon to decide your exit strategy. Investors in new businesses want to know their exit strategy even before they start. Whether you are getting involved with the industry or getting out… get more involved working ON your business and less IN it. Exit or entry? Either course requires a clear map and a commitment to making your dream happen.

(March 2015) The Big 4: What’s the Difference
Seems like the powersports industry has been dominated by “The Big 4” for decades! However we are not talking about Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha.

The real big four that make a difference to your dealership are marketing, advertising, public relations and branding. Too many of you still think in terms of the 20th century where we had to “sell” products to bewildered customers who meandered into your brick and mortar retail store. The rules are different now. Technology has advanced. Shopping habits have changed. Choices are everywhere. Distraction is rampant. Search engines answer everything. Human behavior has been permanently altered to the point where acquisition is no longer a form of “hunting and gathering,” but is a “filtering and focusing” process.

Your task now is not necessarily to sell your products, but to help your customers buy your products. To make this switch, you need to become more “relevant” in the customers’ world… which isn’t the same world when you built your business. This rapid evolution of shopping and consumer behavior requires you to have an even better understanding of buying fundamentals. Start looking at your business through your customers’ eyes so more of them can truly discover you.

(May 2015) Gear Up – A Way of Life
The MIC’s new “Gear Up” launch is not a campaign – it’s the beginning of a movement! Not your average preachy public service messaging, this program is intended to reach out to the industry and riders alike with the goal of “self-improving” your level of gear selection… and reminding you to wear it every time you ride. It isn’t the first time the industry has attempted something like this (ATGATT anyone?), but it is the best approach to positive reinforcement we have ever had.

Rather than just preaching to the choir, Gear Up is demonstrative and interactive like Nike’s “Just Do It” message. Like the Nike tagline, Gear Up speaks to your spirit instead of your logic. Feel it, don’t think it. Interpret “gear” as you choose (helmets, body armor, eye protection, etc.) but consider doing a better and more complete job of it for your own benefit. If you are a dealer, gearing up your customers to improved levels will bring more profits… and deliver the bonus results of happier, more comfortably protected customers.

How can you show your customers the light without pushing them off a cliff? Fair weather riders, naturally can get away with less gear, yet “gearing up” in quality gear would still improve the ride. It’s not all about temperature control – it’s also about better fit, improved function, convenience and of course, style. Looking like the doofus in the group doesn’t add to a rider’s self-esteem, does it? And being equipped with gear that never fails in the field is a requirement of a dedicated rider. Curse the broken jacket zipper 400 miles from home. You won’t see a mountain climber or a SCUBA diver with cheap gear…Why should a motorcyclist be any different? Go to gearupeveryride.com.

Confessions of a ­Customer™ is one of columnist Eric ­Anderson’s commitments to the industry, which includes his retail sales training ­efforts and service to the MIC Board of ­Directors. He has built several well-known aftermarket brands and is the founder of Vroom ­Network, an ­­industry-specific ­consulting company specializing in ­marketing, training and brand ­development.
To read ALL of Eric’s columns, go to http://bit.ly/1HGw7Op.

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