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Commentary & Analysis

Online marketing resource centers for dealers

To promote sales of their products, manufacturers need to effectively provide their network of dealers with marketing materials that support the purchase process, and continue the post-purchase conversation.

By Dave Erlandson
Published: December 2, 2011

Challenge: Supporting the marketing needs of dealers

To promote sales of their products, manufacturers need to effectively provide their network of dealers with marketing materials that support the purchase process, and continue the post-purchase conversation with follow-up customer communications. Challenges that marketers face in trying to provide this include:

  • Customizing collateral for local needs
  • Maintaining brand control and ensuring professional quality
  • Reducing time to market for new collateral
  • Growing sales by increasing touch points between dealers and customers
  • Reducing costs
  • Ensuring information is up-to-date and accurate
  • Improving relations with dealers

Solution: Build an online marketing resource center

361_Polaris_ScreenshotIn order to drive traffic to stores and increase sales Polaris developed a three-touch customer loyalty program that dealers in the U.S. and Canada could access via the Internet. Each new customer receives three mailings at key points in the first year of the relationship—shortly after the initial sale, on the anniversary of the sale and during the December holiday season.

Paige Wittman, Director of Retail and Dealer Development at Polaris, explained that follow-up is important to ensure future sales and sales of related products. “On average, in heavy snow areas, people trade in their vehicles every year.” So, keeping in touch with customers on a regular basis to tell them about new models, as well as accessories and services, is important for Polaris and its dealer network. “Customer loyalty is a huge deal.”

The loyalty program is set up for four product lines—snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles, and two lines of motorcycles. Dealers participate by logging in to a website with the materials for the 12-month program. At the site, they can access the templates and select offers from dropdown menus.

361_Polaris_large_card_layoutEach card is customized to reflect the product purchased. An image of the product is used; for example, a snowmobile purchaser’s card would have an image of a Polaris mountain, sport, or performance snowmobile depending on which type they purchased. In addition, each card is personalized with the customer’s name, dealer information and signature of the dealer. Dealers can elect to add a coupon created by Polaris or design their own coupons online with their own images and text.

Results

The program helped drive sales for Polaris.

  • During one evaluation of the program, on average, customers spent $61.27 when they returned to the store with a coupon
  • A few dealers have reported an overall response rate of 15.5%
  • Response rates as high as 40% have been achieved for some promotions

Summary

There are many shapes and sizes of online marketing resource centers but they are all web-to-print solutions that enable dealers to customize and order marketing support materials on an as-needed basis. Typically an online marketing resource center allows dealers to:

  • Log on to a manufacturer-branded site
  • Select approved templates for products such as brochures, sale sheets, point-of-sale signage, or direct mail letters and postcards
  • Customize information such as dealer contact information, products to be promoted, sales event dates and prices
  • Download a high-resolution PDF or place an order for printed pieces
  • If you’d like to see more examples of successful web-to-print solutions check out PODi’s Case Study Database.

Dave Erlandson is General Manager of Caslon & Co. (www.caslon.net ) a firm that specializes in helping companies take advantage of the new business opportunities enabled by digital printing. One of Caslon's primary activities is to serve as the North American Affiliate for PODi, the Digital Print Initiative (www.podi.org ). PODi is a leading industry association focused on developing the market for digital printing through market education and standards activities.

 

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