I write this as I begin to unpack my goodie bag from Indy — the annual media tour delivered a slew of slick catalogs stuffed to the gills with some seriously sweet P&A, and apparel makers like Klim knocked my socks off with their integration of D3O high-impact protective material — this silly putty-like goo gets rigid on impact!
In addition to perusing the impressive array of new parts, accessories and gear, I had a chance to meet with industry friends and partners old and new. There’s a lot of innovation going on in the industry, and online technology was definitely a running theme throughout many conversations.
My old friend and former MPN staffer Craig Cervenka introduced me to his newest venture, Edgenet. This high tech firm is new to powersports, but you’ve seen their technology in action on websites including Lowe’s and Wal-Mart.
Edgenet acquires data from thousands of suppliers and delivers rich content to retailers and distributors for use in e-commerce, store and supply chain systems.
Craig and Edgenet VP of Interactive Marketing Noel Pennington walked dealers through the basics of how their system works and gave tips on how free services like Google Places can help dealers be more competitive in the online marketplace.
50Below has also added increased e-commerce functionality to their dealer websites, and John Schuldt walked me through the upgrades that mark a real shift in the way many dealers will sell products in the future — your customers expect your website to look like any other e-commerce site they visit, complete with shopping cart and your entire inventory — if he can’t find it online, your customer won’t visit your store to dig for it!
It seems that nearly every dealer in America has joined the 21st century and has a website, but what about social media? MPN contributors Heather Blessington and Peggy Olson of Duo Web Solutions gave a standing room-only presentation on creating your store’s social media strategy. Heather’s most striking point was that you don’t have to “get” social media to do it. Your target audience gets it, and you just need to deliver your message via the channels they prefer, even if you don’t see why anyone would ever wanna “tweet”!
Beyond the online channels through which we communicate with our customer base changing so rapidly, the devices used to communicate have become more sophisticated than ever.
Nielson predicts that smartphone penetration in the U.S. market will exceed 50 percent in 2011, and smart marketers are taking advantage of this captive audience.
Ron Cariker, president of 7 Media Group, unveiled his company’s mobile marketing solutions offering text messaging products designed to cut through the online clutter and reach your customers directly in their pockets.
Look for more information on the changing landscape of online and mobile marketing in future issues of MPN.
Colleen Brousil is the editor of Motorcycle Product News. Her monthly column, “The Road Ahead” explores issues facing dealers across the country.