Word of Mouth Marketing = Handshakes + Proactive Social Media Posts

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As more and more motorcycle dealers are being acquired by large companies with a strong focus on the revenue and market share, the competition in the motorcycle market is becoming fiercer by the minute. Dealers now have to perform better and carefully watch their bottom line more than ever before. Huge parts of this fiercer approach to business are customer service and repeat business.

While word of mouth marketing is still considered the most powerful form of marketing, dealers now have consider the fact that it has changed over the recent years. Word of mouth no longer includes face-to-face conversations and handshakes, but also text messages and other personalized communication exchanged between the dealership and its customers. It is no longer enough just to focus on “old school” communication and hope that customers will innately spread “good words” about your business.

Instead, motorcycle dealers are now expected to have face-to-face conversations and shake hands with their customer, and also continue the conversation via e-mail, text messages and social media interactions.  More importantly, motorcycle dealers can no longer expect customers to spread the “good word” about their business because today’s customers suffer from social media fatigue. They simply have too many options and in the end may not end up sharing all of their positive experiences. As a result, dealers have to do a lot of word of mouth marketing themselves, if they really wish to increase repeat business and beat their competition.

Some of the best ways for dealers to spread good words about their establishments are posts on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. All three of these social media platforms are great for sharing personal and unique stories, such customer bike purchases and other happenings at the dealerships. Such posts are even more powerful when the mentioned individuals are tagged.

With the next year just around the corner, this is the perfect time to try a new approach to word of mouth marketing and customer retention. Happy 2015!

Promote Your Events and Specials for FREE on Facebook and BikerOrNot!

The winter holidays are on our doorsteps. Businesses are scrambling to promote all the amazing deals they are offering and store events they are hosting, and attract as many shoppers as possible for as little money as possible. This includes both brick-and-mortar and online establishments. The race is now on to finish the current year by beating last year’s sales record and comfortably cruising into the new year.

Since every business, including motorcycle dealerships, has a set marketing budget for the holiday season, ChopperExchange is offering the following advertising freebies to our member dealers: FREE promotional posts on our Facebook Page and $500/month in BikerOrNot.com Bucks that can be used to invite local riders to events.

FREE Facebook Promotional Posts

With more than 600,000 American V-twin enthusiast followers, the ChopperExchange.com Facebook Page is a great place to promote your upcoming events and specials. Each post includes a detailed description, large image, and links. The post can be for an upcoming event or promotional offer. There is a limit of two (2) posts per dealer per month.
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$500 in BON Bucks to Spend on BikerOrNot.com

BikerOrNot.com (BON) is a social network of more than 500,000 motorcycle enthusiasts and it is also owned by our parents company, Marco Polo Publications. To help our member dealers promote store events and increase foot traffic, we are offering dealers who have an active ChopperExchange account $500 per month in BON Bucks to use toward event invitations on BikerOrNot. A direct link to this offer is available in the ChopperExchange dealer account admin. We are also available to offer assistance with the BikerOrNot account set-up, event creation, and sending invitations.
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For additional information, please contact us at 1-800-523-7274 or info@chopperexchange.com.

We wish you a wonderful holiday season.

How Good is Your Customer Support?

According to ResponseTap, 64% of consumers experience some level of frustration when companies only offer online customer support. This is hugely important given the fact that those who shop online also tend to voice their frustrations on social media and review websites, which can negatively affect a business’ reputation.

Given the current consumer credit strains and decline in sales, motorcycle dealers cannot afford to sacrifice any customers because of poor customer support. According to an an article published in DealerNews September 2014 issue, only two in 10 customers are approved for a vehicle loan. This means that there is no longer a sea of customers waiting to buy motorcycles like 10 years ago. Those days are gone.

To provide excellent or exceptional customer support, motorcycle dealers must be available online, in person, via telephone, on social media, and any other communication platform preferred by the consumers. Also, customer support should be available after regular business hours.

What to online  customers want-

 

How to Sell to Your Existing Customers on Facebook

As most motorcycle dealers across the nation, you probably have a substantial list of individuals who have purchased from or visited your dealership in the past; your customers. This is a sacred list. It is essentially a gold mine of future sales.

What if we tell you that you can utilize your current customer list to create super targeted Facebook Newsfeed ad campaigns with offerings just for individuals who have a relationship with your dealership? If that is not tempting enough, Facebook also allows advertisers to create “lookalike” audiences that are similar to their current customer base. This is great from advertisers who are interested in acquiring new customers.

Facebook Newsfeed ads then show in the target audiences’ Newsfeed on desktops and mobile devices. The ads are large and can contain a good amount of text. Each ad is also accompanied by a website link of the advertiser’s choice.

Below are two examples of Facebook Newsfeed ads. Ads similar to this can be created and shown just to individuals on your current customer list and/or a lookalike audience.

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Feel free to contact us at info@chopperexchange.com, if you are interested in learning more about custom audience advertising on Facebook. We are always happy to help.

Do You Know Who Your Most Valuable Customers Are?

Photo Taken By Andrei Medvedev / Shutterstock.com

Photo Taken By Andrei Medvedev / Shutterstock.com

According to Harley-Davidson, motorcycle dealers spend between $300 and $400 in advertising per walk-in customer. While this is a sizable investment, most dealers continue to struggle with customer relationship, sales leads and sales staff performance management.

For example, a lot of motorcycle dealers still use paper records of customer traffic and sales, which is a serious impediment to robust customer relationship management, sales and overall operations. What is even more concerning that a lot of dealers do not even know the true value of their customers. To take this even further, a lot of dealers do not know who their most valuable customers are.

Motorcycle dealers who have realized how important it is to know who their most valuable customers are have also realized that the amount of money that customers spend is no longer the most important attribute that defines the value of their customers. Instead, such dealers focus on customers’ influence in their social circles, engagement with the brand, and advocacy on behalf of the brand.

Dealers now have the ability to see who responds to their marketing messages, which allows them to segment and more accurately value their customers. At the heart of this are trust and customer data, which can be gathered via:

  1. Relationship building
  2. Content personalization
  3. Smart engagement
  4. Predictive analytics

The bottom line is that people do not buy from companies, they buy from people. For people to trust a brand/company, they must feel valued and understood. For brands/companies to value and understand people, they must take the time to carefully collect and study data about their customers. Companies must know the true value of their customers, and furthermore determine which customers are the most valuable. This allows companies to appropriately tailor their marketing efforts to meet each customer’s needs and maximize the bottom line.

Commerce Revolution: What Online Shoppers Want

Last month, I had the opportunity to attend the 2014 Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition (IRCE) in Chicago.

In addition to meeting many cool and innovative e-commerce companies, I also attended several very informational and eye-opening lectures by various industry leaders. One of the lectures was Connected Commerce: The New Opportunity for Retailers in an Evolving Retail Environment, presented by eBay, Inc.’s President and CEO, John Donahoe.

Mr. Donahoe underscored 5 important points for e-commerce businesses who want to make online shoppers happy and keep them coming back for more:

  1. Online consumers just want to shop. They do not care about the background infrastructure of the website as long as it works and it is easy to find the products/services they are looking for. Shopping should be seamless.
  2. Businesses must give online shoppers choices.
  3. Attentive online service and help is a non-negotiable.
  4. The return/exchange process must be super easy and free.
  5. Consumer personalization is still in its early stages. No online retailer has truly mastered it or cracked the nut of true personalization, which means that everyone has lots of room for improvement.

Finally, Mr. Donahoe stated that the commerce revolution has not, contrary to popular belief, ushered in the end of offline retail. In fact, offline retail is not dead at all. It is actually still a strong source of revenue for many retailers when properly integrated with online shopping options.

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Use Instagram to Attract and Engage Customers

If you have not heard about Instagram by now, one may think that you live under a rock.

Instagram is a photo- and video-sharing mobile social network. It allows users to edit and upload photos and videos directly from their mobile devices, which can be viewed by their followers and non-follower Instagram users. Instagram photos and videos can also be shared on other social media websites, such as Facebook and Twitter.

Here are some very impressive facts about Instagram:

  • Launched in October 2010
  • Has more than 200 million active users
  • 70% of users log in at least once a day
  • 13% of Internet users have Instagram profiles
  • 25% of Fortune 500 companies have Instagram profiles
  • 43% of Top 100 Brands post daily on Instagram
  • More than 50% of U.S. retailers are on Instagram

The above facts are impressive and useful for businesses interested in “branching out” and reaching potential customers via multiple social media. Since it is never a good idea to “put all your eggs in one basket”, Instagram offers another powerful alternative to online marketers who are currently using Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter to market their products/services/brands.

More specifically, Instagram is a great platform to connect and genuinely engage with current and potential customers. It allows companies and individuals to interact via sharing authentic photos and videos. It is a very powerful platform for building brand personality and lasting customer relationships.

According to the May 2014 PowerSports Business / RBC Capital Markets Q1 Dealer Survey, majority (62%) of motorcycle dealers in the U.S. did not realize an increase in customer traffic during the first three months of 2014. During the same period, a large portion (60%) of U.S. motorcycle dealers did not realize an increase in profit margins compared to 2013. This alone indicates that motorcycle dealers have a decent amount of room for improvement, and Instagram can be part of such improvement efforts.

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For additional information about Instagram, feel free to contact me at mirela@chopperexchange.com or 1-800-523-7274 x210.

You can also see our Instagram profile here.

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Is Your Website User and Mobile Device Friendly?

According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 63% of adult cell phone owners use their cell phones to access the Internet. This is huge! This statistics alone should be enough to prompt business owners to think about the usability of their website. More specifically, this is a clear indicator that businesses have to make sure that their websites are easy to use and mobile device friendly.

As defined by Marketing Insights, “usability is the effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction of using a particular device or service to achieve a certain goal…it is very much about getting from point A to point B and less about what happens in the middle.”

A business may have the most beautiful website, but its customers will deem it useless if it does not enable them to easily find what they are searching for or if it is not compatible with the device they are using. Unique graphics, videos, and other effects may look cool, but website users may perceive them as clutter and annoyance if it is difficult to find the company’s products and/or services.

This is an example of a website with a very busy/cluttered Home page.cc trader

The current popularity of mobile devices has prompted successful businesses to simplify their websites. They are opting for simple and easily accessible rather than flashy and opulent website designs. For example, while your website designer may think that fire flames and revving motorcycles may be cool, such features will most likely not be visible on most mobile devices and will therefore make your website look broken.

To keep things simple, businesses should always keep in mind that today’s online consumers are expecting websites to be clean, crisp and easy. Everything else is unnecessary and probably a waste of time and money.

We try to keep our website’s Home page as simple as possible.cex home

If you are a motorcycle dealership, your website’s primary goal should be to effectively showcase all currently available motorcycles, parts, apparel, and accessories for sale. You also want to make sure that online shoppers can easily contact your sales staff for additional information and learn about any financing options. And, if you really want to do everything right, you should also have an easy way to capture your website visitors’ name and e-mail address for later follow-up. While event photos and employee biographies are great tools for making your dealership stand out, such sections of the website should be less prominent.

5 THINGS EVERY BUSINESS MUST DO IN 2014

  1. Remove unnecessary clutter from the Home page of its website and replace it with the most important items that its customers will be looking for.
  2. Build a mobile version of its website.
  3. Collect website visitors’ name and e-mail address, and use automated e-mail marketing services, such as AWeber and Infusionsoft, to follow up at a later time.
  4. Regularly update the products/services and other information available on its website to make sure that customers are not finding outdated information.
  5. Designate specific employees to be responsible for interacting with online customers and providing prompt responses.

We hope that the above suggestions give you some ideas and help you have a prosperous 2014. Feel free to contact us at info@chopperexchange.com with any questions or for additional information.

Best Marketing Strategy for 2014: Storytelling via “Share” Media

Given the current smart technology use and rampant personal data sharing trends among consumers, companies are looking for effective ways to connect and engage with their target customer base without appearing too pushy, insensitive, or intrusive. This is a tricky endeavor since most companies are also starved for time and pressured to beat the competition in terms of financial performance. To add another layer of challenges, companies are also expected to deliver results and respond to customers’ issues within minutes rather than days. Simply put, industry environments are changing fast and companies do not have the luxury of sitting on the sidelines to see how things play out.

To truly succeed in today’s intensely competitive industries, marketers must shift their focus from traditional “push” and “pull” to “share” marketing strategies. Print advertising (“push” media) provides information about products/services, but does very little to engage with the target audience. Television advertising (“pull” media) entertains and evokes emotions, but does not enable the target audience to respond and engage. In essence, both “push” and “pull” media fall short of allowing the target audience to engage with the advertiser and build reciprocal relationships.

Face-to-face and social media interactions are forms of “share” marketing tactics that facilitate two-way, reciprocal interactions between marketers and their target audience. Such efforts foster empathy and build trust, and therefore prompt the target audience to engage with the advertiser and emulate specific (“advertised”) behavior. In the “share” marketing realm, customers are not viewed as targets, but rather as partners who are there to help the company achieve its goals (introduce or sell products/services, promote various causes, or expand its customer base) and provide feedback. “Share” marketing strategies focus on storytelling and effectively using stories to connect and build long-term, “We” relationships with customers. Neither side has the upper hand. Instead, marketers and their target audience are equally needed to tell a complete story. Without either side, the company’s story is incomplete.

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Aside from face-to-face interactions with customers, social media websites, such as Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter, are the next best vehicles for effective customer engagement. Such websites blur the lines between producer, seller and consumer, and enable all three groups to connect and share common interests and experiences. This mutual exchange helps companies appear more humble and human, and also gives a powerful platform for consumers to voice their opinions. Furthermore, with the help of storytelling, companies gain valuable insight and build long-lasting relationships with customers, and customers gain access to brands they like, as well as the opportunity to influence those brands.

The beauty of storytelling as a marketing strategy is two-fold; it inspires companies to share what is special about their brand(s) and it brings consumers closer to the brands they follow. Companies’ stories do not have to rival those of professional storytellers either. The most important ingredients are thoughtfulness, genuine want to interact with the audience, and encouragement of the audience to respond. A story can be five paragraphs, five sentences, or five words long. Each company’s stories are unique and therefore do not need to conform to any cookie cutter rules. There often is a lot of beauty, spontaneity and genuine value in messy stories. The overall goal is to share and engage, and not to publish award winning essays.

Here are a few types of stories that companies should share with their customers:

  1. Historical/Timeline. Retelling the company’s history or the history of its products/services in form of a timeline is a great way to convey longevity and credibility. For example, a photo status update on the company’s Facebook Page can show some type of a timeline and ask its Fans to share what they remember about a specific time on the timeline.
  2. Testimonial/Proof of Recovery. It is never a good idea to shy away from sharing negative customer service scenarios, as long as the company can show that the customer’s grievance was resolved and the customer was made whole. Such stories show that the company does not pretend to be perfect and that it works hard to correct imperfect customer experiences. Positive customer feedback stories show that the company can be trusted.
  3. Humor. This type of storytelling must be extra scrutinized because it lends itself to potentially offending customers. Funny stories that are too sexual, have heavy religious undertones, promote specific political views, or carry any other offensive connotations should be avoided because they can alienate certain customers and devalue brand equity.
  4. Special Cause. Generally speaking, consumers like to do business with companies that support various charitable causes, especially if such causes are close to their own heart. Such stories show the public that company management “has a heart” and also encourage customers to get involved.
  5. Celebratory. People like to be happy, and happy stories make people happy. Sharing videos and photos of various celebrations, especially if they include the company’s customers, is a perfect way to re-live such events and also include those who were not in attendance.
  6. Biographical. It is true that most people are looking for their fifteen minutes of fame. What is even more true is that social media websites allow companies to make their customers feel famous, even if it is just for a few minutes. Companies should profile customers on their social media pages and encourage others to submit their own information to be featured in future posts.
  7. Nostalgia. Sharing photos of celebrities, famous quotes, or pop culture events awakens nostalgic feelings and prompts customers to associate such feelings with the company’s brand(s). This is a great way to tell customers that the company know what they like and value, and also that those things also mean something special to the company itself. This creates a sense of “we are the same”.
  8. Special Announcements. Whether it is a new products introduction or new employee hire, customers like when such information is shared with them. It makes them feel like they are “in the know”. It also helps them get to know the company better and encourages them to offer their own feedback.
  9. Solicitation for Help. Asking customers for help does not mean that the company is not capable of solving its own problems. Instead, it means that the company values its customers’ opinion and wants to hear what they have to say. This is a very powerful way to introduce new products or ideas, and also get fast customer buy-in.
  10. Exclusive Offers. Posting an online coupon is not a good example of storytelling, but posting a story about a special offer that helped a customer save money and accomplish his/her goal with the help of the company’s product/service is a brilliant way to use storytelling as a promotional tool. Such stories can be cheesy, but they should not be too gimmicky. Customers will pick up on stories that are not genuine and may revolt as a result.

The bottom line for marketers in 2014 is to focus more on sharing and caring than on preaching and teaching. Companies must go the extra mile to be perceived as genuine, caring and authentic. Storytelling helps them do just that. Once the company has captured consumers hearts, it is much easier to capture a share of their wallet.

Please contact me at mirela@chopperexchange.com with any questions.

3 Marketing MUST DOs for 2014

This is the time of the year when it is nearing its end, holiday shopping season is on its last week, and marketing professionals are planning for 2014. This brings us to the big question; what will 2014 look like in terms of companies’ marketing efforts?

Take a look at this photo, as prepared by Pew Research Center and Deloitte in March 2013, and let your mind make some assumptions:

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If you assumed that marketing is going to be even more social and mobile in 2014, you are spot on. More specifically, consumers are expected to use mobile devices, such as tablet and smartphone to consume online content and make purchases, a lot more in 2014 than during any previous year.

To succeed in 2014, every business must do the following three (3) things:

  1. Invest in social media ads in an effort to capture consumers’ attention while they are checking their personal accounts from their mobile devices.
  2. Create a mobile website to make sure that customers can easily view their products/services and make purchases from a tablet or smartphone.
  3. Genuinely engage with customers via social media websites in an effort to forge long-term, meaningful relationships that will weather any market storm.

If you have any questions about getting ready for 2014, feel free contact me at mirela@chopperexchange.com. I will gladly answer any questions.

Happy 2014!