Marketing Strategy: Planning for 2012

How do you know what form of advertising should receive the majority of your marketing budget? How do you know if an ad is bringing traffic into your store?

As the year is coming to an end, it’s crucial plan your 2012 marketing strategy. We find dealers often struggle to decide where to allocate their marketing dollars and tend to rely mainly on traditional forms of advertising such as print and radio ads because they feel that it is the safest and most comfortable way to get their dealership name out into the community.
These forms of advertising are beneficial and should be continued, but it’s also important to research current online marketing trends that will allow you to reach a broader number of potential customers, therefore making your marketing efforts more profitable.
So how do you know what form of advertising should receive the majority of your marketing budget? How do you know if an ad is bringing traffic into your store?
The main point to remember when preparing an effective marketing strategy is to know what is working and what isn’t. Review the previous year sales numbers. Analyze any data provided on your marketing efforts to date. Be willing to make the appropriate adjustments based on this knowledge, and remember to be flexible throughout the year. Do not hesitate to change up your strategy if one of your methods is not bringing in the return that you thought it would.

Let’s divide your marketing dollars into three categories:

In-store Events/Promotions
By planning your in-store events at the beginning of the year, you will have set aside the funds needed for these efforts. By doing this, you are left with the available allowance for your advertising efforts. This will allow you to make better decisions on how to spend your promotional dollars to increase attendance at your events.  

Traditional Media
More likely than not, print, radio and television have been the main focal point of your advertising efforts to date. It’s natural to stick with what you know, but that’s a costly mistake – not only because online marketing is more affordable, but also because it’s trackable and doesn’t require a major commitment. We see way too many dealers paying an arm and a leg to run a few radio spots during the year and then be left with virtually no budget for other marketing efforts. Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.

Online Marketing
I am going to assume you already have a great website. If not, you need one; it’s the foundation of all of your marketing efforts. It’s the very first place people learn about you, so don’t make the mistake of ignoring your website or just putting up with a site that is so-so (feel free to contact me for a site review).  

If you have not yet branched into the world of social media marketing, you’re behind the eight ball. Social media marketing is the area you should be actively researching and planning to launch in Q1 of 2012. Current statistics show that social media marketing continues to explode and is clearly dominating the way small business owners choose to spend their marketing dollars.

Still on the fence? These stats should knock you over:
• 81 percent of small business owners use social media to get their business in front of customers and to generate new business*
• 91 percent of online American adults (approx. 129 million) use social media**
• Americans spend more time on Facebook than on any other U.S. website
• Over 80 percent of small business owners have blogs***

Ok, so if I’ve convinced you social media is not optional, our next step is to determine how to get your online efforts started. Here are several very effective ways to advertise online and directly connect with your customers.

1. Utilize all of the email addresses you have collected from customers and start running regular email marketing campaigns. Duo recommends Constant Contact, and we can help you get started.

2. Build a Facebook business page and a Google+ Business page, you do need both because these two are battling it out to win market share.

3. Twitter. Just do it and don’t be afraid of it. We do regular 101 Webinars on the topic.

4. Text marketing is wildly successful for Powersports dealers. Consider building a VIP mobile club to reach them on their smartphone that is glued to their hip pocket 24/7.

5. Website enhancements are more important than ever. Google just announced a new algorithm that punishes sites that do not regularly publish new, relevant content, which means your site ranking is dropping as we speak.

Here’s how to win:
• Add a blog as a space to publish new content regularly
• Customize and optimized graphics for your monthly OEM promotions
• Engage your visitors with YouTube videos

6. Keep your event calendars full and current; advertise upcoming promotions and service specials. Statistics show the event calendar is the No. 1 page user’s visit, and we find many dealer calendars are blank!

Assign an employee to oversee these marketing efforts. Then hire an online marketing service provider to set up and manage all of these efforts. An experienced service provider will invest the time needed to interact with your customers online and engage them in conversation, while also training your staff to take part in all efforts.

Don’t make the mistake of believing you can take all of this on yourself and be successful — we’ve seen many dealers try and fail.

Good luck to you all in 2012! If you would like assistance in structuring your online marketing strategy or need information on current trends or service providers, please feel free to contact me at [email protected]. I would be more than happy to help you determine new and exciting ways to increase your ROI and make 2012 a year to remember.

From all of us at Duo Web Solutions, have a wonderful holiday season and a Happy New Year!!

Source: 26 Promising Social Media Stats for Small Businesses; November 15, 2011

* Boomerang, 2010
** Experian, 2010
*** Nielsen 3Q Social Media Report

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