Winning Marketing Strategies for Motorcycle Dealers
Clint Lawrence, founder of Motorcycle Shippers, industry consultant and ambassador of fun. [email protected]
The motorcycle industry is changing fast. The average age of today’s biker is 47, up from 40 in 2009 and 32 in 1990. There’s no denying that riders are getting older and buying fewer bikes. And that’s leaving a reeling post-recession motorcycle industry looking to the future.
Motorcycle manufacturers are placing their hopes on the Millennial generation. But this largest generation since the Baby Boomers just isn’t as interested in bikes as their predecessors. The shifting tide means that manufacturers and dealers must learn what their new audience is all about—and how to connect.
Toward that end, more motorcycle manufacturers are starting to produce bikes that appeal to a younger demographic. But what about motorcycle dealers?
In an e-commerce world where Millennials prefer digital shopping, dealers need to understand their audience—and how to sell to this new generation.
Understand the Changing Marketing
In 2003, the 50+ age group comprised only about 25% of the motorcycle market. Now, that number has risen to nearly half. Older riders are starting to hang up their helmets, so acquiring older customers doesn’t provide a great lifetime ROI. Thus, motorcycle manufacturers are introducing new, streamlined (and affordable) models to cater to younger riders who have a lifetime of bike-buying ahead of them.
These younger audiences tend to prefer smaller, more cost-efficient bikes that are more entry-level friendly than the intimidating 1000cc displacement bikes. The horsepower race is over, and the era of the 300cc and 500cc bikes is here.
Keys to Marketing Motorcycles to Millennials
The motorcycle lifestyle is also undergoing change. The culture is shifting to a more environmentally-focused, user experience-driven and value-seeking society. Today, you’re more likely to see urban hipsters riding their motorcycles to the local co-op market than making an epic trip to Sturgis. Gone are the days when bigger is necessarily better. In the era of the smart car, dealers will do well to appeal to Millennial values in their selling points.
Here are some key points to emphasize when marketing to Millennial’s:
- Urban appeal: When marketing smaller displacement bikes, emphasize their inherent ease of use for everyday riding in an urban setting.
- Value-price ratio: Smaller bikes mean greater savings. New customers don’t necessarily want to spend what could easily amount to $25,000 on a bike. Highlight key features in tandem with their benefits to emphasize real value.
- Insurance savings: A smaller, more affordable bike means lower insurance costs. Emphasize the ongoing cost savings.
- Minimalist design: New bikes have a more “raw” look, shedding the plastic to show off the mechanical appeal of the bike’s underlying mechanism. To a minimal-is-trending generation, bells and whistles are often less important than the actual bike itself.
- The “cool” factor: Millennial’s love nostalgia, and the “new retro” styling is trending. When selling to a younger buyer, appeal to their desire for living the cool (and potentially eco-friendlier) lifestyle rather than focusing on performance alone.
- Customer experience: This should be implicit in every interaction you have with your customers, whether online or in-person. Establishing trust before ever buying is vital for a generation in which the focus has shifted from simply making sales to building relational capital. Providing a great customer experience can boost dealer sales volume by an average of $1000 per transaction.
- Online presence: Make sure your current inventory is properly displayed online. Photos are great but video is better. Many dealers don’t take advantage of this marketing tool. Shoot a 30-second, 360 degree video with the engine running. Rev it a bit for fun. Make sure your site is mobile friendly.
Emphasize the benefits of buying in-person
Motorcycle marketing strategies are evolving in the ecommerce era, when 54% of 18-34 year olds prefer to do their shopping online. With research and reviews at their fingertips, you should be prepared to talk to buyers who have likely done extensive research on pricing and features.
The digital shift increases your opportunities for marketing to new buyers online, building trust and drawing them through your sales funnel at many touchpoints. Though younger consumers tend to do most of their research online, many still make a visit to a dealer to cover all their bases and see the product live before they buy.
However, many shoppers will come in to check out a bike, and then leave to buy it online from a competitor for less. You can take steps to avoid this by:
- Building trust and rapport while the customer is in-store
- Explaining the benefits of buying from a dealer—that is, from you. In-store purchases come with great, live customer service.
- Emphasize the importance of routine bike maintenance and how, when purchasing through you, they can be sure that their bike will be maintained by a professional.
- Focus on closing the deal before they leave, even if it means throwing in some extras to sweeten the deal.
Like Amazon, you can woo your customers by offering to deliver their new motorcycle right to their door. Offer this service in your listings to entice long distance buyers. Motorcycle Shippers is here to deliver your customers’ bike anywhere, safely and efficiently.