Posts Tagged ‘marketing’

The skinny on PSN’s SocialLink app

August 22, 2011

You may have heard a little whisper from PowerSports Network recently about an app that it deems the “missing link” in making your Web initiatives a little easier to manage.

It’s called SocialLink (promo video above), and it acts as a bridge between PSN-powered websites and dealer Facebook pages. With SocialLink, says PSN national sales manager Dave Valentine, dealers can have their website inventory automatically fed into their Facebook page in real-time, without having to take any additional steps. The app also allows fans to sign up for store email blasts.

“It’s simple to use,” Valentine says. “We do almost all of the work for the dealers.”

PSN subscribers need only click on a button that says “send to Facebook” when they’re uploading their inventory. The action will lead to a window where you can edit text and schedule the Facebook post to go live immediately or set a date for the future. Dealers also can schedule up to three “Featured Units” per day to show up on their Facebook pages. Facebook fans are able to view photos, review prices and Like or Comment on individual units.

“We’d like dealers to use this tool as more of a social thing, for example asking customers, ‘What do you think of this bike?’ rather than just using it as a sales tool,” Valentine says. “If they just did sales, it would turn off their uses.” PSN also plans to add social event posting capabilities in the near future.

The SocialLink add-on tool is $49 per month. Since it’s August 1 launch, more than 100 dealers have started using the tool, including Buddy Stubbs Harley-Davidson in Phoenix, a store that incorporates both of its branches into one Facebook page.

For more information, contact PSN at 800-556-0314.

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Facebook for Business is a one-stop shop

July 27, 2011


For dealers still needing a nudge to join Facebook, the social networking site has just made it easier for you to set up a business page.

Facebook this week launched Facebook for Business, an information hub that lists all of its pertinent business information on one page. Everything from how-tos on creating pages to adding targeted ads and plug-ins is now in one convenient spot for you to peruse.

(Aside: It’s interesting to note that this launch comes on the heels of news that spanking-new social networking competitor Google+ has been deleting business pages and turning away businesses from its site.)

So have at it, folks. Visit www.facebook.com/business to create a page, or learn about all the features that you can plug into your existing one.

Milo Fetch bridges gap between online and in-store

June 23, 2011

Dealers looking to branch out online may want to check out Milo Fetch, an eBay-affiliated company that helps small- and medium-sized brick and mortar businesses gain more visibility online. A bonus: You don’t have to have an online storefront to sign up.

Milo Fetch works like this: Retailers enter their store information and sign up, then install Milo Fetch on their main point-of-sale system computer. Milo Fetch automatically uploads the retailer’s inventory, adding it to search engines like those on eBay, Milo, RedLaser and other eBay-affiliated sites. Shoppers who search for items on these sites will be able to view not only national eBay-listed products, but items from local retailers, as well.

The online listings can act as referrals to the retailer’s store. Milo Fetch also updates the product availability in real-time, so customers can see whether a store has an item in stock at that particular moment.

We tried it out, and it seems to work pretty well — and we noticed that powersports products are few and far between. A quick search for motorcycle products near Dealernews’ zip code (92614) yielded only eight local results. Of course, Milo Fetch only has recently rolled out, so given time, more retailers will sign up and more products will be searchable. However, from a dealer standpoint, you could take advantage of this testing period to get a leg up on your competitors.

Currently, Milo Fetch works best with retailers who use Intuit QuickBooks. The service is free during this beta testing period, so it’s definitely worth checking out.

Visit http://milofetch.com to sign up and to learn more.

Hip to be square: Demystifying the QR code

June 2, 2011

They’re called QR codes, and they’re seemingly everywhere these days — you may have noticed them in store windows, magazine articles, and other places where you’d usually find traditional advertising. But what exactly are they, and what function do they serve for retailers?

“By the book definition, they’re two-dimensional barcodes that can be scanned by a mobile device or camera phone, which would lead you to a phone number, SMS text message, or URL,” says Scott Bronenberg, regional sales manager for Advanced Telecom Services.

In newbie terms, QR codes are similar to regular product barcodes — only instead of listing a price at the checkout counter, they act as portals to a retailer’s mobile website or other information. Users scan the code, and in turn, the code sends the user to whatever the retailer has linked to the code — whether mobile website, coupon, or other information.

“Right now, people are using QR codes to [redirect] users to their websites,” Bronenberg says. “But what we’ve found is that there’s so much more we can do with further integrating that landing page. Be it Facebook, Twitter, an opportunity to download an app, watching a video, and live streaming.”

QR codes were first developed in Japan as early as 1994, when they were used to track automotive parts — sort of a mobile tagging system. It wasn’t until just about a few years ago that they caught on in the United States. “We’ve been working with QR codes for about a year and a half, and the growth is spiking right now,” Bronenberg says.

And, with mobile phone companies like Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile planning to offer phones equipped with QR scanners rather than have users download these scanners themselves, Bronenberg muses the interest in them will multiply — not fade out like other marketing fads. “Right now, they’re like the shiny object in the room — they’re new, and unique. But if people get more comfortable with them, their growth could be endless,” he says. “They’ve been in use in Japan for awhile now. If we as marketers can do a good job of executing what’s on the back end, they will be here to stay.”

Besides linking to a website or social media page, one could also run various promotions with QR codes. Frank Mazza, Advanced Telecom Services’ QR code production director, recently helped develop what the company calls a “scannenger hunt.” Retailers would place QR codes around their store, asking consumers to scan them to view and download exclusive content. Mazza also suggests that dealers place QR codes on showroom vehicles that link to videos of vehicle demos or customer reviews. “[Customers] can scan them, and they can see the vehicles in motion [in a video],” Mazza says. “They have all of the details they need on their phones. You could also tie the QR codes in with vehicle servicing.” The best part? Customers have access to all of this interactive content, all without having to leave your store to get it.

Advanced Telecom Services helps retailers build custom apps and marketing campaigns to link to these QR codes. The company offers customization, building, setup and development services that start at $500, plus monthly maintenance fees. Customized QR codes that are branded according to your business start at $100. Bronenberg and Mazza also run a website, QRcode2.com, where one can generate generic, black and white QR codes for free. “A lot of people who use the standard QR code just link it to their website,” Mazza says. “But the thing is, yeah, you can use them for free, but you want to brand it, from the outside and inside. That’s what we do. We’re creating a landing site for you. The works.”

Google’s take on mobile marketing

May 23, 2011

About 8 percent of those surveyed in a Google report admit to using their smartphones to access the Internet while they’re in the shower.

If that doesn’t tell you how powerful mobile marketing can be just read on for more stats from Google’s findings.

Some background: Last month, Google released a report titled “The Mobile Movement: Understanding Smartphone Users,” that was conducted by Ipsos OTX Media CT, an independent market research firm. (You can download the free report here.)

The study represents 5,013 smartphone users between the ages of 18 and 64, all who’ve said that they use their smartphones to connect to the Internet. Just like social networking, it seems as though consumer mobile usage is on the rise — and here to stay.

Stats to think about:

  • 93 percent of those surveyed use their smartphones at home. Most people consider their smartphones as an extension of their laptops and desktop computers.
  • 72 percent say they’re using their smartphones while doing other things, like watching television (33 percent), and reading the newspaper (22 percent).
  • 43 percent say that if they have to, they’d give up beer just so they could continue using their smartphones for Internet access.

And here’s where it gets interesting for you, dealers:

  • 46 percent of those surveyed use their smartphones to visit retail websites.
  • 53 percent of those who use their smartphones for searches end up making a purchase, whether in-store (40 percent), online (35 percent), and on the smartphone itself (20 percent).
  • 95 percent of smartphone users have used their phones to look up local information. About 61 percent of them have subsequently called, and 59 percent have physically visited the businesses they’ve looked up in their local searches.
  • 79 percent of those surveyed say they’re using their smartphones for shopping-related activities.
  • 74 percent of smartphone shoppers made a purchase as a result of using their smartphone.
  • 67 percent research a product on their smartphones, then buy it in-store.

So what can you do to make sure you’re on track with your mobile retail efforts?

  • For starters, hop on a smartphone — iPhone, Blackberry, whatever — and cue up your store’s website to see if it’s displaying properly. Are icons too small? Text too confusing and hard to read? If you’re running into these and other problems, you may want to consider investing in designing a mobile shopping app to make it easier for consumers to shop from their phones. This is especially crucial if a chunk of your sales are made online.
  • Advertise with mobile banner ads, etc. The Google report also mentions that 82 percent of those surveyed actually notice ads on their smartphones. Those screens may be small, but that means ads can take up a lot of real estate.

Cellphones replacing loyalty cards?

June 1, 2010

By now your business surely has a Facebook fan page, and some of you are even actively using it to promote your store/product/whatever. We even know of some Top 100 dealers who offer Facebook-only specials to its base of fans — usually, a 10-percent off something or other special. It’s a brave new world, this social networking stuff, and it’s sometimes hard to tell if all the work keeping up with it is for naught. 

Sure you have 500 fans on Facebook, but what does this mean? Has it translated into more sales or door swings? 

Well, the New York Times is reporting on a number of social networking companies who are turning their social media skills towards programs that can help you track your more loyal customers — at least those who are actively engaged in Facebooking, Foursquaring, etc. 

There are already several tech companies — Foursquare, Shopkick, Gowalla and Loopt — that have turned shopping and visiting stores into a game. Consumers using the social apps on their smartphones mainly use them to “check in” to different locations to let their Facebook friends know where they are or where they’re shopping. They can also collect virtual points, prize badges and titles such as Mayor or some such. They’ve basically turned running errands into a game. 

Sound silly? Yes, sort of, until now. A couple of these companies have introduced partnership programs that allow you to reward loyal customers for coming into your store and “checking in.” This is basically mobile marketing that allows you to offer such perks as discounts or free gifts to loyal customers. The idea is that these targeted bonuses will help increase repeat visits in addition to foot traffic. 

The New York Times reports that such companies as Gap, Burger King and Universal Music have plans to use Loopt Star to reward loyal customers. The participating companies can tailor the program to offer different “rewards” for such actions as “checking in” a certain number of times, or give out an extra perk to those with a specific number of Facebook friends. Retailers can design “rewards” with their own graphics, special offers and the actions they’d like their loyal customers to take. These include:

  • check in to selected venues with Facebook friends
  • check in to selected venues and broadcast this on Facebook
  • check in to selected venues at certain times of the day
  • check in to selected venues a specific number of times  
  • Foursquare, the most popular of the “checking in” apps, allows businesses to offer Foursquare Specials, a program that includes a set of analytics to gauge consumer behavior. The free program allows you to collect behavioral data about customers such as:

    • most recent visitors
    • most frequent visitors
    • the time of day people check in
    • total number of unique visitors
    • a histogram of check-ins per day
    • gender breakdown of customers

    Foursquare also encourages businesses to promote their involvement with the service via Twitter, with signs at the cash registers or sidewalk signs, and can help stores market their Specials via window clings or through downloadable PDFs.  

    Here’s an idea. Why not combine the Motorcycle Industry Council’s Revive Your Ride program and one of these mobile marketing services to promote the upcoming riding season?

    It’s undoubtedly frustrating keeping up with technology when you’re running a dealership, especially the rapidly evolving social media world. But it might be worthwhile to investigate what’s out there as it’s very likely a large swath of your customer base is already clued into this stuff. Also, a lot of a it is free and who doesn’t like free?

    Reaching Powersports Customers with Social Networking

    January 4, 2010

    This story originally appeared in the Dealernews December 2009 issue.

    Happy New Year, all. We’ve made it through 2009 and the mad rush of the holiday shopping season and are now edging our way toward Dealer Expo and the great unknown of 2010.

    I spent a lot of time online over the holidays (possibly too much) frequenting the social networking site Facebook, obsessively checking my e-mails, perusing various dealer and other industry-related websites. Along with figuring out that I need to get out more, I noticed that a lot more dealerships are embracing the online world.

    Facebook pages. E-mail newsletters. E-commerce sites. Websites that are more than a store’s cyber-billboards. It seems that many more powersports retailers are starting to grasp the possibilities of the online world — but not all just yet. In fact, it’s going to be a long slog up the learning curve for the bulk of dealers. But the small empirical slice I saw looked promising.

    Why is this so exciting for me? For one, I’m in a demographic that straddles the divide between the digital natives who have grown up surrounded by and regularly using technology and those whose VCR clocks (those who still have VCRs) will forever be flashing 12:00. I’m (more…)

    Going Retail: Creating a Real Store

    December 1, 2009

    This story originally appeared in the Dealernews December 2009 issue.

    Dictionary.com gives the following definition for the word retail: “The sale of goods to ultimate consumers, usually in small quantities.”

    But of course we all know what retail stores are — they’re the ones in the mall, the Banana Republics, the Nordstroms, the Apple stores. They’re all retailers, right? What about your store? When was the last time you considered your motorcycle shop a retail store? You sell goods to consumers, often in small quantities. That pretty much qualifies you.

    Since I started at Dealernews, I’ve had the “retail” conversation with countless people — dealer principals, OEM employees, sales reps, folks from the big distributors — and we almost always come to the conclusion that too many powersports dealers and dealer employees see themselves as running bike shops and not retail stores. As such, concepts inherent to retail like merchandising and marketing are placed on the back burner.

    This is not necessarily a good thing. You’re competing for customer dollars against the Banana Republics and Best Buys of the world, large retailers that spend millions of dollars each year on in-store merchandizing and marketing programs built around seasonal and promotional changes. Often these promotions and efforts are backed by studies of consumer behavior and specifically target buying habits.

    As the products change in these large stores, so does the retail landscape. How often do your apparel displays change? Is your P&A department (more…)

    Smart Dealers Use Facebook (Or How to Pimp a Holiday Sale)

    November 30, 2009

    Admittedly, I’m a bit of a Facebook junky and spend a lot of time on the social networking site. OK, it’s probably far too much time but that’s a topic for another, more humiliating conversation. For the sake of this post, let’s say I was on FB several hours a day over the four-day Thanksgiving holiday. (Hypothetically speaking, of course.) Over that time I saw many postings from people I’m friends with or businesses I’m fans of (FB lingo) but there were a handful that really stuck out.

    During this holiday break, you couldn’t click a radio dial, open a newspaper or turn a channel without reading something about the retail orgy known as Black Friday and its post-consumergasm follow-up, Cyber Monday. Everybody knows that many retailers count on these two big holiday shopping days to push the books into the black. But did you know that many powersports retailers are also latching onto the idea that building sales programs and marketing efforts around these two days is a great idea?

    And why not? Consumers of all stripes are conditioned to view these days as days to GO OUT AND SPEND MONEY. (more…)