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Prized Promos

To generate new and different promotional ideas, first list the goals you want to accomplish.

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Most of our store promotions are the same as what our competitors do. Can you give me a fresh idea for a promotion that will attract customers to our store?

The answer this month is provided by Doug Jones from J&W Cycles in Washington, Missouri. Doug is the second generation to work in the store as J&W Cycles is a family-owned and operated dealership that has been in the powersports business for more than 30 years. They currently carry Kawasaki, Suzuki, Victory, Polaris, Yamaha and Schwinn powersports products.

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Doug, at the last group meeting, your dealership won the top prize in the Best Operators Club "Best Idea" contest. How did you come up with the idea for this unique promotion?

Well, actually my dad, Bob Jones, came up with the idea. We were brainstorming trying to come up with an idea of how to celebrate our dealership’s 30th Anniversary. We really wanted to do something special, something different. We decided that our promotion had to accomplish three things:


Customers showed up with their original bills of sale and oldest bikes.


Doug Jones, third from right, and the oldest ATVs bought from J&W.

  1. Generate awareness of our longevity in the community
  2. Bring our previous customers back into the store while attracting new customers
  3. Be unique enough to create free publicity

Owning a dealership for 30 years is a real milestone. Congratulations! So what did Bob come up with for a promotion that would accomplish all your goals?

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Specifically, the idea was to seek out the oldest ATV and motorcycle purchased from our dealership, and still in the possession of the original owner. The title was "J&W Cycles’ 30th Anniversary Oldest ATV & Motorcycle Contest."

We developed this into a week-long, 30th anniversary celebration with an open-house, planned group rides, special sale items, free hot dogs and refreshments, etc.

So the promotion was based around a contest. What were the rewards you offered?

We decided to offer three prizes in two categories: one for motorcycles and the other for ATVs. First prize in each category was $500 in cash; second was $250 and third paid $100.

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What was the basis for determining the winners?

Winners were determined solely on the age of the purchase. The bike or ATV had to still belong to the original purchaser. For example, the winner of the motorcycle category brought in an extremely clean 1977 Kawasaki KE250 that he had purchased from us on June 10, 1977. This was just three months after we opened the store!

Many of the competitors brought in their original bills-of-sale, purchase paperwork and titles. This was really an eye-opener. Do you remember when a new motorcycle could be purchased for $500?

Yes, I do. I hadn’t thought about it for as long time though. Those were the days … How did you advertise this?

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We ran a full-page ad in the main local paper and supported this with ads in surrounding papers. We also ran spots on the dominant country music station culminating in an on-site broadcast. Regrettably, Mother Nature did not cooperate, and a number of the final festivities had to be cancelled due to serious rainfall.

That’s too bad about the weather. Yet you deemed the promotion a success?

Oh, yes. We are planning to do this again for our next anniversary. We just haven’t decided if this will be every five years or every ten.

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You also generated some free publicity, I understand.

We did. The local paper actually wrote a large article with photos. They spread the article over a two-week period. It was really something.

What kind of results did you see from this promotion?

Our traffic went up, as we had hoped. I think we brought in an additional 1,000 people for the week. This is a lot for a small community. We not only brought in a lot of our old customers, many of them dropped off their old bikes and ATVs for service. We generated a surprising amount of service business from this. We sold and installed a lot of parts and accessories as well."

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We also sold several units. In fact, one of the winners bought a new 450 Rhino. That was a nice sale!

Are there any cautions or advice you would offer to dealers who are thinking about doing this type of promotion?

Only one: Instead of offering cash prizes, consider offering store gift certificates. This way you can recover a percentage of the prize while encouraging the winners to purchase more in your store.

Indeed! This promotion certainly accomplished the goals you set. Thanks for sharing this with us!

Dealers: Take the time to gather your dealership team together and discuss what it is you want to accomplish with a promotion. This is a good method to use to generate new and different promotional ideas.

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