10 Marketing Secrets Every Bike Shop Needs to Know

At Harvest Retail Marketing we are passionate about ensuring that any marketing activity our bicycle retail clients undertake produces exceptional results and exceeds all expectations. To do this you need to be aware of the pitfalls and understand that there are a large number of variables that need to be controlled in order to make for effective marketing communications.

In the list below are 10 Marketing Secrets Every Bike Shop Needs to Know as they plan their 2011 marketing agenda.

So, here they are in no particular order.

1. Beware of advertising

If I had a dollar for every bike shop owner that said his or her advertising just isn’t working I’d be able to afford more vacations, that's for sure. Advertising can be dangerous…yes it can be very good…but it needs to be done well. Before signing up for that advertising package, consider all the other marketing options available to your business, clearly identify what it is you’re trying to achieve and then make a more informed decision. Challenge your advertising partners to prove ROI, and hold them accountable. Demand free perks for signing up, be it free design or additional ad space. And finally, reduce your yellow pages investment if you haven't already.

2. A 12-month marketing plan is essential

This doesn’t mean everything you do from a marketing perspective is set in stone for the coming year, but it does mean that you have a plan that you can work to that takes in to account seasonality, buyer behavior, budgets and objectives. The plan helps you ensure that you are spending your money in areas that are going to generate sales. In today's business environment you need to make sure that every dollar is working for you. The budget also lets you make those hard decisions about where to cut and gives you a solid foundation for saying 'NO' to the seemingly endless 'opportunities' that come through your door each year.

3. Make promises and keep them

So obvious that it’s become a secret! What a great way to create word-of-mouth…and free!

4. Make every dollar you spend accountable

Decide whether you want to feed your ego or your family. Sexy, expensive image-building campaigns might win you an award, but, with rare exceptions they don’t put money in your bank or food on your table … at least at the level small businesses can afford. So, drive your branding efforts with free PR in the early days and spend your money on measurable direct-response marketing that delivers X dollars of revenue for every dollar spent on marketing. Things like Google Adwords, well executed email marketing, and direct mail; with each option making time sensitive offers. These solutions are much more accountable than just working on getting your name out there.

5. Understand how your customers would like to be treated

Understand their values, needs and expectations. What problems do they have that your product and service can solve. And then go about developing clear, succinct marketing communications that leave no doubt in their mind that you are their knight in shining armor.

6. Realize that marketing isn’t the panacea for all business problems

Marketing can do many things…done well it can bring customers into the store and give you the opportunity to close sales. That said, all small business owners need to be very, very clear on what it is they expect from their marketing efforts. To this end, a great practice to get in the habit of is to ask yourself this… “By embarking on a particular marketing campaign what outcome am I looking for? How will I judge the success of my efforts?” Is it sales, customer inquiry, list-building, brand awareness? There are many outcomes marketing can produce…you just need to know which one(s) you’re wanting. Once you start doing this, you’ll be able to benchmark your ideas and see which ones work more effectively and why.

7. Do less

One of the most tempting aspects of marketing is the veritable smorgasbord of different marketing tactics that you can toss into a marketing plan. It’s almost overwhelming. Many marketing professionals make the very understandable mistake of believing that more is better. But they’re wrong. You will be vastly more successful if you do less, but do them better. Pick 3-4 marketing tactics that you think are really going to be valued by your audience and drive the action you’re looking for. Then, figure out how you can do them in an extraordinary way. 100% consistency. 100% relevancy.

8. Less is more

In today’s cluttered world, your customers are being bombarded with thousands of messages every day. In order to rise above the noise level, you need to capture their attention immediately and then hold it while giving them your pitch. You must be able to deliver your message, if necessary, in 25 words or less. Include your main feature and the main benefit in the message. If you hook the potential customer, they will gladly ask you for more information.

9. Ask for the sale

Your customers want the right product, at the right price, from a retailer they trust and appreciate. Your fundamental challenge as a retailer is to make sure that your core business is functioning in a way that positions you to attract customers, earn their repeat business and stay profitable. If you do those things first, make sure your marketing is actively asking for more business from established and new customers. You can trust that you deserve the opportunity to ask for the sale. You ask your salespeople to do this on the floor, ask the same of your marketing.

10. Invest time in your customers’ feedback

Invest quality time in eliciting and responding to your customer’s feedback, even if it’s negative. It’s the secret to building a network of evangelists who keep on giving back to your business. There are free services out there that let you easily generate surveys, you can even embed a Google form into your site to collect ongoing feedback. Don't feel you have to spend extra money to collect feedback, but that being said there are several great companies that help you gather and learn from the feedback that you get.

Having read the above 10 Marketing Secrets Every Bike Shop Needs to Know, you’re now ready to create a marketing plan for your business that is in a much better position to achieve the results you’re looking for. And if that’s not enough, CLICK HERE to find out all about how Harvest Retail Marketing can help you with great ROI driven marketing ideas with a proven track record of success for bicycle retailers.

About The Author

Ryan Atkinson

Ryan Atkinson

Ryan is a proven marketing professional who entered the cycling industry in 1994.