Don’t let Your Dealership be “Amazoned” this Holiday Season

Rod Stuckey | 12/01/2015


‘Tis the season to be thankful. So, I’d like to extend my gratitude to the Dealer Principals and Marketing Managers who attended our recently completed Fall Harvest Boot Camp. I’d also like to say thanks to my valued teammates for all of the hard work behind the scenes that goes into making these events successful. 


We covered real world dealership case studies, Annual Customer Value, online and off-line media, and as always, how and why all dealership marketing must include all four legs of the stool or it will falter. Those four legs being:


1.    Right Message
2.    Right Media
3.    Right Market
4.    Right Time


This may sound pretty basic, but in reality, to execute properly, it’s quite advanced. For example: I grew up with a friend whose family owns a local clothing store. I was a regular customer there for 20+ years.

But in the last few years, I’ve begun to gravitate away from buying at their store. They didn’t do anything to upset me, but I’ve just been slowly lured away by their competitors (without any real conscious awareness of it). Thinking back, it started when I was in a pinch for a suit prior to a travel engagement and received a mail piece from the local Jos. A. Bank promoting a compelling special offer. It was the right message, at the right time and with no regular communication from my local guys I was feeling indifferent about where I shopped. Then, the last couple of years since studying the massive rise in popularity from Amazon and Zappos I decided to give ordering a pair of shoes online a try (against my natural skepticism) and was pleasantly surprised by my experience. 


Eventually, I downloaded the Amazon app on my phone, and got in the habit of quickly ordering things as I needed them without my normal procrastination involved in visiting a retailer. Two weeks ago, while dumping the holding tanks in my RV, I sprung a pinhole leak in a drain hose (yuck). I clicked on my smartphone app and had a new one on the way within two minutes, and it was at my house by the time I’d returned from my road trip. 


So anyway, a couple of days ago I get a “Happy Holidays” postcard in the mail from my friend’s local clothing store. First of all it seemed kinda weird to receive because I hadn’t heard from them in so long. But, somewhat flattered that they’d reached out, I picked it up to see what my old friends had been up to. I immediately noticed it was addressed to ‘Current Resident.’ That felt a little impersonal seeing how I know that I’m in their database and they should at least know who I am. Oh well, they’ve forgotten who I am. No big deal. I was still curious to see if they had the same team in place. Since the son, Tim, was about my age and should be in charge by now, I thought he may be up for saying a few words about what was going on. Also, Brad has a guy there named Stan he always asks for that had worked there forever. I wonder if he’s still there…I dunno, the copy didn’t reveal. So, uncompelled by the holiday graphic and a pictures of clothes with very little additional content, I tossed it in the trash with little thought. 


But later, I was thinking about the four legs of the stool, and why there were multiple flaws in the execution of my old buddy’s holiday mailer. Primarily revolving around number one, message, and number three, market. Regarding the message, the lack of personalization, i.e. Dear Rod, or Happy Holidays Rod and Ashley (my lovely wife), illustrated they weren’t up to speed on the capabilities of today’s digital printers (or were too cheap). But more importantly, the message was weaker than circus lemonade, because it was selling things rather than the experience. This is a family-owned company who has been in this community for decades and they have a great story to share. They have many advantages that the big box giants and mega e-tailers can’t compete with. Like calling me by my name, providing service from a staff who cares, asking about my family and friends, etc. They are capable of providing an EXPERIENCE not just selling widgets.


The next big flaw was the market they mailed to. I know this was an every door direct mailer because it was addressed to “current resident.” Why would you send a generic message to everyone, when you could send a compelling message to your existing customer base who’ve given you money in the past? They are the ones most likely to give you money again in the future. 


This is one of the great divides in business, especially Powersports: Selling ‘things’ versus selling ‘the experience of’ and selling to anybody versus selling to the right somebody. 


Don’t let your dealership make this mistake during the holiday season. Too many small businesses are “Getting Amazoned” because their marketing is not nurturing relationships and selling the unique experiences they have to offer.


If you’d like more information on one-to-one direct marketing contact us today at 877-242-4472.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.


Rod Stuckey


P.S. – be on the lookout for our Spring Break Out Boot Camp dates coming soon.