Thursday, March 21, 2019

It’s Time to Get Social

Social media has really taken over in recent years and we don’t see this trend dying out any time soon. So even if your current marketing strategies are working, it’s important to stay competitive and to reach your customers where they are - and they’re on social media. We’ve got the stats to prove it.
  • There are currently 3.4 billion active social media users1
  • There’s a new social media user approximately every 10 seconds1
  • The average daily time spent on social is 116 minutes a day2
  • 21% of consumers are more likely to buy from brands that they can reach on social media3
So if you haven’t hopped on the social media bandwagon yet - or even if you have - let’s review why you should include social media as part of your business strategy.

Helps Build Brand Awareness -
Building awareness is key when it comes to promoting any brand or business. So it’s no surprise that according to a survey conducted by Small Biz Trends, 44% of local businesses said they depend on social media to generate brand awareness. And you know who is probably part of that 44%? Your competitor. So unless you want them being the only local dealership consumers are aware of then you might want to make sure you join them and start having a presence on social media yourself. Having a social presence allows you to stay visible and relevant to both returning and new customers. By posting consistently on social media, you have the power to be a recognizable voice in your industry and the local community - keeping consumers coming back for more.

Allows You to Engage With Your Customers in a New Way -
As we mentioned earlier, your customers are on social media. So if you’re not, you have the opportunity to reach a completely untapped market of people who could potentially be interested in either buying a motorcycle or looking for advice from a trusted source just like you. It’s also important to realize consumers love authentic engagement, and social media lets you interact and build relationships with potential customers in an organic way.

Helps Show Your Brand’s Personality and Expertise -You are an expert in your field, and you need to show that off - there’s no need to be modest. Social media gives you the opportunity to share your expertise and advice with your customers and position your dealership as, not only a place where someone can make a purchase, but a place where interested buyers can come to gain knowledge about the industry as a whole. It’s also important to realize that social media can be fun. By using various platforms, you have the opportunity to show off your dealership’s personality through the different posts and content you create. If you’re interested in creating videos that you can post on social media, click here for our tips on creating video content. Consumers love brands with personality - and it’s crucial to humanize your business so potential buyers feel comfortable and welcome right off the bat, even before visiting your dealership in person. It’s important to put the focus on the conversation you are having on social media rather than just the inventory you’re trying to sell. Don’t get us wrong - posting inventory can be great, but posting advice, tips, and tricks can also go a long way in building relationships with your potential buyers.

Can Help Drive Leads and Increase Traffic -If new information or content is just sitting on your website, it’s going to take a lot longer for consumers to find it. That’s where social media comes in handy. When you are consistently posting (and linking your site) on social media, you are giving consumers more of an opportunity to find this valuable content on your website, in turn, boosting your traffic. Don’t forget that social media is a tool - make sure you are using it to your advantage.

If you want to have a presence on social media, but just don’t have the time or resources to make it happen, Cycle Trader can help. Our GoSocial product can kickstart, or supplement, your existing social media efforts by managing your Facebook for you. GoSocial includes weekly posting and management for Facebook, a dedicated monthly advertising spend, and monthly in-depth reporting - saving you valuable time and costing a fraction of what it would take to hire a team. And if you don’t already have a page, we’ll even help you set one up. If you’re interested in learning more, contact your Cycle Trader representative today at 888.747.1192 - they’d love to walk you through it.

Oh, and if you’re craving more social media content, you’re in luck. We’ll cover specific social media channels and tips on how to use them in future posts - stay tuned. To hold you over until then, check out our tips on using Instagram for your business here.


Thursday, February 21, 2019

2019 Marketing Trends You Need to Know

It’s no secret that digital marketing is here to stay, but it’s important to keep in mind that the landscape is also ever-changing and evolving. It can be hard to keep up with the trends at the rate they are moving - that’s why we’re here to help. We’ll break down the marketing changes, updates, and trends that are on the rise in 2019. Check out our findings below.

Content Still Matters - We like to say that content is king around here (alright, Bill Gates likes to say it too), and the phrase still rings true in 2019 as content marketing is on the rise. Generalized content can be useful, but more and more businesses are creating specialized and personalized content specific to their industries - and they are seeing big-time results. According to HubSpot, 55% of marketers say blog content creation is their top inbound marketing priority; so if you don’t already have a blog or a resource center - it might be something to consider so you can provide helpful content to your potential buyers. A few examples of helpful content could be as simple as creating a buyer’s checklist or writing a quick article/blurb on how to determine the right bike for you - the possibilities are endless. Remember, you are an expert in your field and consumers want to hear from you. We are fully aware that creating content takes time and effort, but it’s important to keep in mind that you want to market your business as not only a dealership, but as a true resource center for potential buyers.

Time to Up Your Video Game - Did you know that according to Forbes, YouTube is America’s most popular social media platform? Consumers LOVE video content and we expect to see that trend grow as the year progresses. It’s important to use video to your advantage to better reach your customers. Video content can show off your dealership’s personality and it’s an effective way to get important information out quickly and clearly. Check out our additional tips on incorporating video into your business strategy here.

AI is on the Rise - Have you heard of artificial intelligence aka AI? If you haven’t, we’ll catch you up. To put it simply, AI is the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines, especially computer systems.1 Computers are getting smarter by the minute and while we didn’t think that they could be as smart as the human brain… we are starting to see a shift. While that may sound slightly scary, AI can be used for marketing purposes and we expect those uses to rise in 2019. So what is AI marketing, exactly? Glad you asked. AI Marketing is a method of leveraging customer data and AI concepts, like machine learning, to anticipate your customer’s next move and improve the customer journey.2 By gathering this big data, AI marketing can help businesses better target consumers by boosting campaign performances, and increasing ROI in the long run. We are going to keep a close eye on AI marketing this year, and we’ll even break down how Cycle Trader actually uses this technology in a future post - stay tuned.

Voice Search - Smart speakers are becoming a common sight in your average household. “Alexa do this”, “Siri do that”, and “Ok, Google” are also becoming common utterances we hear and use on a daily basis. Voice search is on the up and up and we only expect this to rise exponentially as these speakers get more advanced. In fact, according to research conducted by NPR and Edison Research, 39 million Americans use smart speakers and 65% of them say they wouldn’t want to go back to life without their voice-controlled assistant. Consumers are searching for anything and everything with voice search, so if they search for your dealership’s hours or directions to your dealership - will they find up-to-date content? It’s important to make sure all of your information is current so consumers can find it when using voice search. Smart speakers were created to help consumers in a new way, and businesses have taken notice. We expect to see advertisements make their way into the smart speaker world sooner rather than later, which means buying voice ad space could be a new marketing tactic in the future - only time will tell.

Social Media Stories - If you’re not using social media for your dealership, we suggest jumping on the bandwagon ASAP. Social media usage is consistently on the rise and we are seeing particular interest in not only posting regular content, but participating in social media stories. This is an important tool to consider when planning your social media strategy. From Instagram, to Snapchat, to Facebook - there are plenty of new ways to get your stories out there. To keep it simple, stories enable users (like you) to create photo and video collections that can be viewed only a few times before disappearing after 24 hours. You can add to your stories throughout the day and add fun text, GIFs, and graphics to your posts to tell your brand story, highlight an event you have coming up, or poll customers on questions you’re eager to ask. We suggest experimenting with this feature as it will no doubt become more and more popular in 2019.

There you have it. The top 5 marketing trends you need to be aware of in 2019 - it’s hard to believe we are already two months in. As always, we’ll continue to keep you aware of any marketing trends, changes, and updates we see throughout the year. As we mentioned, the digital marketing landscape is always changing - but we’re here to keep you in the know.

1 TechTarget
2 Emarsys

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Top Searched Makes and Models of Q4 2018

It’s hard to believe that 2018 has come and gone. Let’s take a look back to see what Cycle Trader consumers were searching for in the last quarter of 2018. We’ve seen a few consistencies, as well as a few changes, we think you’ll find interesting and informative. So, the wait is officially over - your Q4 roundup is here.

Top 5 searched models of Q4 2018:
  • Dirt Bike 
  • Trike 
  • Sportbike 
  • Cruiser 
  • Dual Sport 
Dirt bikes took the top spot in Q4 2018, making up 17% of total consumer searches. The models have gained 3% of searches since last quarter but saw a slight decline of 2% Y.O.Y. We have consistently seen dirt bikes remain the #1 searched model on Cycle Trader. Trikes came in second with 11% of total searches - down 1% from last quarter and also down 1% Y.O.Y. Sportbikes secured third place with a total of 10% of searches, down just 1% Y.O.Y. Cruisers came in fourth place with 9% of searches, and dual sport motorcycles rounded out fifth with 9% as well. It is interesting to note that we did see a shift in placements Y.O.Y. In Q4 2017, scooters came in third place, while cruisers took fifth. We are interested to see how these numbers shift in 2019 - only time will tell. Let’s dive into the top makes of Q4 2018.

Top 5 searched makes of Q4 2018:
  • Harley-Davidson 
  • Honda 
  • Yamaha 
  • Kawasaki 
  • BMW 
The top five searched models of Q4 remain consistent Y.O.Y., with Harley-Davidson continuing to dominate the searches on Cycle Trader. Harley took first place with 21% of all total searches on our site in Q4 2018 - that’s 3.6 million searches. Honda came in second with 17% of searches (consistent numbers Y.O.Y), and Yamaha secured third with 11%. Kawasaki placed fourth with 8% of total searches and BMW rounded out fifth place at 7%. While the numbers and placements remain fairly consistent Y.O.Y., it’s worth noting that in Q3 2018 Suzuki took fifth place and now they have been bumped down to sixth. We’re curious to see if they can climb back to fifth place in Q1 2019.

Stay tuned for that report coming this April and let us know how your dealership compares with our findings in the comments below.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The Trials and Tribulations of Brand Loyalty

No one talks about the downside of brand loyalty. It’s the ultimate dream to sell a rider their first bike and then keep them in the family throughout the rest of their riding years - right? Everyone wants that loyal following of advocates who go out into the world, promote the brand, and help it to grow it organically. And we’re lucky in the motorcycle industry because riders are already brand loyal - they know what they want and are willing to wait or search for it.

But while having a loyal following is always the goal - operating in an industry where many of the buyers are already set on a brand can be a double-edged sword. If you can capture the buyers attention - then you may be able to keep them for life - but on the flip side, it can be difficult to coax them away from another manufacturer once they’ve joined their following.

So - do you want brand loyalty or not? For manufacturers - it’s obvious - they want to grow and keep loyal buyers. But for dealers - it’s a tough balance - particularly if you are a multi-line dealer. While you also want buyers who come to you and stay for their entire lifecycle - you may want to sway a buyer’s loyalty from one manufacturer to another because that’s the only way you can make them a customer at all.

It’s odd to think of brand loyalty as something that could be a negative - and it’s really not, particularly if you have it. If you don’t - or are trying to convince a buyer to change their tune - focus on understanding why they’re loyal - pinpoint what drives it - and then build trust with them in other ways. Maybe leverage your dealership and the service you can provide or the resources you offer - build brand loyalty for yourself, rather than the manufacturer, specifically. Or help them understand why the brands you sell are worthy of their loyalty - pointing out similarities and differences, carefully, between the brand you’re interested in selling them and the brand they’ve been loyal to.

Loyalty isn’t set in stone - thankfully - so it’s yours to encourage or take away. If you have it - for your dealership or a manufacturer you sell - nurture it. If you are looking to bring someone from one team to another - keep in mind buyers can be defensive when they are loyal to a brand - so make sure to tread lightly.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

You Want $100 More - But Why Should You Get It?

So here’s the situation. You have a unit for sale, and the guy down the street has something similar. Your unit costs a little bit more - whether that’s $100 or $1000 - and you’re unwilling to lower the price. Could you, convincingly, tell a buyer why they should spend that extra money with you? Have you thought about what you would say if you were asked? If not, you should. It’s an important question and one that you need to have an answer for because the reality is, even though buyers are price-conscious - if you’re providing the right kind of customer experience, they might be willing to spend more to do business with you.

Okay, okay. I understand that this seems basic. Provide a good customer experience - no kidding. But you’d be amazed at how many dealerships aren’t. We’ve heard stories about poor experiences between dealers and potential buyers that you wouldn’t believe - and you can only imagine what the does for the actual buyer considering spending thousands of dollars.

So what should you be doing?

(1) Define your value story
I’m sure you have some idea of what your value story either is or should be - and you could clearly articulate it if you were asked. But your value story should be more than that. It should be firmed up, not something you quickly develop on the spot when asked. You need to take the time to really write it down, play with the verbiage, and define it - not only for your customers, but for your staff. This statement should be as ingrained in your business as your dealership’s name - and you should be sharing it early and often. Maybe put it on your website, social media, and sales materials - answering the question of why you’re worth more before the buyer has to ask.

(2) Regularly train and monitor your employees
A big part of ingraining your value story in your business is making sure that it’s something your employees buy into. You want them clear on the messaging and why it’s important that they share it consistently with customers. But here’s the thing, you don’t want the customer to be hearing different value stories depending on who they talk to - you want the message to be the same across the board, so it’s important to train your staff on how to have the value story conversation. They should feel proud to share this message - after all, it should be what helps them sell more bikes. But they are only going to understand exactly how important this message is if you put the time and effort into making it an important part of your business.

(3) But, prepare for all types of buyers
And here’s the flip side of consistent messaging - while you want the core of the message to be the same - you also want your employees to feel comfortable enough with your value story that they can easily tailor it to the various buyers you see on your lot every day. The motorcycle industry, in particular, has many different buyer personas within it - from new riders, to long-time cruisers, to motocross junkies - each group has their own priorities and it’s important to tailor that value message to each group’s needs, while staying true to who you are as a business. This also goes back to the training piece. You want to make sure your staff practices having this conversation with different buyer types - thinking through exactly how they will tweak your value story to meet the needs of a particular audience. But, in order to do that successfully, the need to be fully comfortable with the core message first.

(4) Provide excellent customer service from the get-go
Aside from your value story, the actual experience you provide the customer - from the time they initially contact you through to when they sign on the dotted line - is the most important thing you can do to differentiate yourself from the guy down the street. And, while it may not be something you struggle with at your dealership - you’d be surprised to find out how many dealerships do. We’ve heard calls where the sales representative comes across as annoyed in their initial phone calls with the customer - it sounds like the buyer is inconveniencing them by calling - which isn’t the experience any dealership would want. So, are you really taking time to listen to the sales calls your reps are having? How they respond to a lead? How quickly they get back to a prospect? These may seem like small things, but they make a big difference when it comes to winning buyer loyalty. Even if you think this is an area where your dealership excels, take some time to go back and be sure.

Here’s the thing - you probably already have a good idea of why your dealership is better than your competition. The real task at hand is making sure that you are communicating it to the buyer throughout their experience with your shop. It takes some work - training for your staff and careful monitoring - but it will be worth it because buyers will notice and choose to do business with you.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

An Ode to Branding

Marketing teams are often viewed like the right side of this image.

Creative. Colorful. Qualitative.

Brands that truly know who they are - and can communicate it - harness these traits to connect with their audience in an emotional way, subconsciously instilling value and trust for their products. With so many options to choose from, brands - and the experience they provide - is what drives loyalty, growth, and advocation.

Before consumers had a multitude of choices, marketers could get by with distinguishing their product using facts -- our brand has 50% less sugar, helps you sell 75% more units, makes you 100% faster. But as consumers became more savvy, they realized numbers can be manipulated and their loyalty came at a higher cost. Now - they want brands that are not only superior, but also understand their perspective. 

Powerful brands - like Yeti - have done such a great job tapping into the experience of their consumer that people follow along with them solely because of the story they tell. They have a great product - but spend more time focusing on lifestyle and emotion-invoking imagery than they do truly pushing their product. And even if the majority of their 1.1 million Instagram followers haven’t purchased a cooler - they might - and either way, they provide invaluable organic marketing and brand awareness for Yeti.

So how do you get some of that for your dealership?
Thankfully, motorcycling is a passion-based industries. You don’t have to convince your followers - like toilet paper or detergent brands - to be excited about what you have to offer. They’re going to be passionate whether you’re involved or not. So their loyalty is yours for the taking. 

The more you get to know your consumers - the more likely you are to develop campaigns that resonate long beyond buying and selling -- keeping them coming back to you no matter where they are in the lifecycle or what their needs are.

Branding is certainly not only for big, national brands. Some of the most successful brands are small, local organizations that are rallying a geo-targeted audience for support. So all the same things you see these brands trying - you should consider too. 

Remember - buyers are looking for something to follow along with, so push yourself to use imagery beyond the literal - showing your buyers more than just what’s for sale. Include images of units being used, pictures without units at all - focusing more on the lifecycle - or giving consumers an inside peek at your dealership and all the goofiness and work that happens there. Give them something to connect with. Something that resonates with them and makes them want to follow along. Mimicry is the sincerest form of flattery - so encourage check out other companies - in your area and nationwide, in your industry and outside - to see what’s working for other businesses and then adapt that strategy for yourself.

Brands have staying power. It’s why they are so important. There will always be someone else who comes along that can do what you do - but it’s the brand, and the emotional connection you’re working to develop with your followers, that is designed to withstand the competition. The stronger you make your brand - the stronger you are.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Seasonality: How to Guard Yourself During the Winter Months

Seasonality is like a dirty word in our industry. The weather turns cold and riders across the country roll their bikes into the garage for the season. Not only are they not riding - they aren’t buying - which can put a strain on the bottom line of your dealership.

If we had a solution that could completely remove seasonality - we would definitely be your favorite people around. But since that magical power doesn’t exist yet - hopefully Elon Musk is working on it - we can at least provide you with some tips to help you get through the slower months of the year.

Don’t stop your advertising campaigns
We don’t have to tell you that buyers are passionate about riding - so they don’t stop thinking about it when the weather turns cold. They are shopping year round trying to decide what bike they want to be on come spring. And here’s the cold hard truth - if you stop advertising during the winter months, these buyers may have already decided on another dealership by the time you restart your campaigns - solely because they didn’t know your dealership existed since you weren’t present where they were searching.

Engage your current community
The off-season is a great time to build brand awareness within your current community. You know they won’t be distracted by nice weather or the promise of a great ride - so help fuel their passion for the industry and your dealership while you can capture their attention. Think about hosting a DIY workshop with one of your mechanics or have any first-time buyers come by the dealership for some riding advice. This is a really powerful community for you to engage because they chose to buy from you - instead of someone else - making them ideal candidates to be true brand advocates for your dealership. Spend the winter months showing them how much you appreciate their business and how you will continue to serve them post-purchase.

Plan for busier months
Once warmer months roll back around - your dealership will be busy and it gets harder and harder to continue with your engagement and marketing plans because you are focusing on sales. We get it - that’s what keeps your dealership afloat. Take advantage of the quieter season to build out as many plans as you can - so when the busy season rolls around, you can just “pop them open”, so to speak, and they’re ready to go.

Think about creating evergreen content that you can easily use when the time is right. You could write a number of generic unit descriptions for popular makes and models you carry so that they can be adjusted slightly for a specific piece of inventory - taking some of the work out of putting up listings during the busy season. Or work on developing a content repository for your social media efforts so you have some of your posts already scheduled.

You can also take this time to evaluate the pictures you’re using on your inventory. If most of your imagery is stock photography - take the time to update those with actual pictures of your units. Then as you receive new inventory in - you can photograph those on the fly. By doing this work ahead of time - it will alleviate some of the stress come high season - so you can focus on implementation and selling.

By viewing seasonality as a time to build and refine - you’ll see that these quiet months can actually be some of the most beneficial for your dealership. It’s your time to distinguish your dealership against the competition and get ready for the inevitably busy season to come. If you back off during the colder months - you’ll lose momentum - and that will put you behind the competitor who capitalized on seasonality come selling season. It’s hard to catch up once you’re behind. Don’t take the risk.