Yamaha Unveils Nationwide Dealer-Based Demo Program

Like Sea-Doo, this summer Yamaha will be offering consumers nationwide the opportunity to demo the brand’s products. But unlike Sea-Doo’s manufacturer-funded, traveling road-show approach, Yamaha has turned directly to their dealers to facilitate the brand’s upcoming “Yamaha On The Water Demo Days.” Yamaha will provide the national marketing muscle to attract consumers, who will then be directed to dealers for individual demo events that are tailored for the consumer to experience the precise products they’re interested in.

“The essential idea is that we know that if a customer has the opportunity to try a WaveRunner or try a boat, they’re much more inclined to buy one,” explains Yamaha marketing head Andrew Cullen. “Because Yamaha teams specifically with our dealers to drive sales for them, we took the approach of helping our dealers put on events all around the country that the dealers are going to run in such a way that the customers in their area can find their dealer event, and the dealer can keep the leads for themselves. It’s one dealer per event; that one dealer owns that event, so there’s no infighting amongst the dealers.

“Essentially by doing that — by opening it up for all the dealers to participate — we were able to get over 100 dealers nationwide, making it pretty easy for a lot of people to get access.”

To bring awareness to the program, and in turn funnel customers to those participating dealers, Yamaha is taking advantage of all avenues of outbound communications, including Internet, digital advertising, SMS text messaging, social marketing and good old-fashioned media and press communications.

Interested consumers are driven to an event website, www.yamahaonthewater.com, where they can then find the participating dealer closest to them and easily schedule a demo on the specific product they’re interested in.

It’s a significant departure from the Yamaha Club Wave events of old, which invited any and all to come out and experience the PWC lifestyle, but according to Yamaha, the events didn’t always achieve the desired result. Looking back on that experience, Yamaha reps note several limitations. First and foremost is the fact that, despite the significant expense, you don’t really know how many people will show up on any given date. Reps also point out that of those people who do attend, you don’t know how many are truly serious about buying.

“Those were all about customers coming out and experiencing Yamaha,” says Cullen, “but it wasn’t that great of an experience for the dealers because it really didn’t give them an opportunity to sell, it just gave people an opportunity to ride. Here it’s giving the dealer all the control to build that relationship between his dealership and that customer. By taking all the other ancillary nonsense out of the way, it improves the dealer’s chance of making the sale here, since it’s pre-registration, the dealer has a lot more information going into the event than they ever had before.”

The shape of each event is up to the individual dealer. According to Cullen, Yamaha put no limitations on the size or scope of demos. Some dealers may bring out a barbecue, provide entertainment and make it more of a party atmosphere, while others may elect to make the demo more of an intimate event where they communicate with the consumer ahead of time, figure out what specific products they’re interested in, and then interact at a one-to-one level.

“We want the dealer to be able to develop relationships with those customers, and to own that relationship, own that lead and hopefully own that customer down the line. “We’re not trying to get in the middle of it at all, we’re trying to facilitate it,” concludes Cullen.   MPN

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