I’ve never viewed the retail world as a popularity contest, at least not between competitors.
We certainly would like to be No. 1 in the minds of our consumers, but to our competitors? Good luck to them, and may the next locust plague land right on their doorstep, right? Well, I’ve found an exception to this common thought. And it’s right here in our powersports world. These guys — a multi-brand metric dealership in the Midwest who I won’t name — should be awarded as the industry’s “Nice Guys.” They probably won’t stay in business long, but boy, are they giving. What are they doing? They’re giving away leads to their competition. Every day, all day. Consumers come to their website, something the Nice Guys obviously pay hundreds of dollars for each month because it’s a nice-looking site. Heck, the Nice Guys even come up well on Google searches. In fact, when I typed in one of their OEMs and their state, they came up No. 1 on the search. Boom! Right at the top!
So if I’m a consumer who did that search, I click on their website URL and what do I see? A big ole OEM banner ad showing the latest cool model. Am I pumped now? Yes! Am I ready to do some serious shopping now? Yes! Maybe contact the dealership to get a quote? Yes! So what do I as a consumer do? I click on the OEM banner ad on the Nice Guys’ site, right there smack dab in the center of their website. In fact, it’s not only in the center of the web page, it’s taking up almost every inch of real estate in my screen. It’s huge! Impressive! And I’m pumped — ready to buy! And guess what the Nice Guys did? They linked the OEM banner that I clicked on to the OEM’s site, not to their own site. So guess which pumped-up, ready-to-shop enthusiast just left the Nice Guys’ website? Everyone who saw and clicked on that huge, impressive banner!
Are those guys nice or what? They’re just giving away business. I mean who actually uses the “back” button on a web browser? Are you seriously going to hit that button, then spend valuable minutes looking around a website to find that one model you just saw on the OEM banner? Why would you do that? That’s a waste of time! Why not just go to Google and type that model into a search. Then I can find the Nice Guys’ closest competitors and buy from them. How nice is that? How incredibly stupid is that? Look, if you’re going to remain profitable in an industry that is barely growing in annual new unit sales, you have to do the basics right. You have to provide exceptional customer service; you have to do more with less, and you can’t be giving away leads from your online marketing efforts.
It’s really that simple. The problem is we’re not doing the simple things, especially when it comes to online marketing. The Nice Guys are not unlike so many other dealerships out there. They — and maybe you? — don’t have somebody on staff routinely checking the links on their website’s homepage. If they did, somebody would’ve noticed they’re sending customers right off their site. Meaning they’re not getting website leads, which are consistently one of the top three lead generators for a dealership. It’s that simple. If you spend hundreds of dollars monthly on a website, it’s ridiculous not to spend five minutes each Tuesday morning clicking on your homepage rotator ads and OEM banner ads and figuring out where they’re sending your consumers. By the way, don’t read into this that updating OEM banner ads are somehow not worth your time. We know they generate consumer interest and leads, not to mention in some cases co-op dollars for your store. The key, though, is making sure you link these ads correctly.
If you’re new to this whole “link” concept, just remember this: First and foremost, never send a consumer off your site. When they’re gone, they’re gone. Secondly, a successful link is the one that sends the consumer closest to an online form where they can provide you with their information. Don’t be the Nice Guy, at least not with your online marketing. Because you’ll definitely finish last.