Through the Eyes Of the Bold, Part 21

Continued from yesterday's post regarding moving old commercial inventory including some observations of many dealers in the past couple of years.

Marketing. I see some that are advertising in the Trader style magazines, but little else. Though the Trader publications can be good for business over the long term, people must go to a convenience store to buy the magazine and my experience is that they do not always have copies of it. It can be questionable how many copies are picked up by people looking to buy a truck. I also see some that advertise on Trader Online by putting their commercial inventory there. You may even get better response there. After six years of running two pages in every issue in good times and less good times, I know one thing about the Trader publications. One is that they worked well for us over the long term. Two, we got almost no calls on common items, but the more unique the product we put in there, the better it sold. This is because there are so many dealers tripping over one another trying to sell the same things. Used and unique are the best pieces to put in there. Online, you can put all your inventory.

I rarely see any other marketing to speak of, but there are quite a number of things that can be done to help communicate with potential buyers. The very first thing that comes to me is a good commercial web presence. I've looked at hundreds of dealers websites and the commercial/fleet portions of those sites and it is my opinion that they don't work very well. There is much you can do on the web when you have a tool that can really help you sell. A separate website is easy and smart. Here is an example: Geweke Trucks. Another very powerful marketing tool is what many call an email newsletters. I prefer to call it email marketing. Here are some examples of what one of those might look like: Newsletter. A newsletter is one type. Basically it is a communication with your customers and prospects with graphics, photographs and has interest and is attractive to the eye. To make this work, you need their email addresses.

Another marketing tool is direct mail. Having a list of potential customers and addresses, you can send flyers, letters, and other types of mail to attempt to communicate directly with the kind of prospect you want to. I think it is more effective than any of the publication ads because it can be controlled so well. I would target a specific piece to a specific group, for example, a plumber body flyer or letter to plumbers, HVAC, and other types that would use that body. Targeting your marketing is the best thing you can do.

Your overall marketing requires a good, solid database and a way to manage it. Keeping track of the people you contact, updating information, planning marketing strategies and campaigns. Nothing replaces the database and it becomes your solid gold tool for moving inventory.

Beyond the database marketing, there is more you can do. Prospecting is one of the simplest and best tools. Going to the end user is pretty straightforward and very powerful. The key here is doing so many each day on a regular basis. Prospecting will also benefit the database by updating information. Another method of prospecting that is hit and miss but can be very effective is to carry a digital recorder everywhere you go and when you see a prospect on the road, make vocal notes of the information, phone numbers, vehicle types, why you think they are a prospect and so on.

Another method is to go where prospects go to buy things and put up a display. Maybe that is The Home Depot, Lowe's, 84 Lumber, County Fairs, where ever you think it is a good place to park a vehicle and talk to the kind of people that you want to talk to. You can also have a display at your store and get people to come to you, and that will require a lot more planning and effort to pay off.

Yes, we are still on marketing. There are so many things that can be done. When I see a dealer that is not moving old inventory, one of the first questions I will ask is what they are doing in marketing to move the inventory. I hear, "I have no budget for any of that," and other types of comments. I don't argue really, but I don't believe a word of it. There is always a way. What I would say is there is no commitment to marketing. Get a better idea and pursue it with vigor. The results will demonstrate that commitment.

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