Most of today’s boat buyers are savvy and educated. They usually do earlier research on the boat they want to buy. Sometimes this exercise makes them more knowledgeable about the product than someone on the dealership floor. As an OEM, you can only take the customer so far in the buying journey before they get handed off to a local dealership through your website.
This leads up to the biggest missed moment in the buying journey.
How does this disconnect happen? The first part of the buyer’s journey begins with awareness of the boat, perhaps by attending boat shows or by spending some time in the water on a friend’s boat. Then, the buyer could do further research by visiting the manufacturers' website, watching videos on your Facebook page or on YouTube, or reading reviews comparing your boat to a competitor’s model.
This leads them to the consideration stage. They now want your product and want to buy. The buyer could visit your website to find a local dealer in their area and send a lead form or visit the dealer’s page directly.
Perhaps, they chose to visit the dealer’s page. They are now introduced to other brands besides your brand. Maybe, they visit the dealer’s Facebook page and see content from another competitor. This may make the buyer confused and less assured that they are buying the best boat to fit their needs and rethink their purchase. As a brand, all the work and effort that you put in your website, social and content strategy to win a new customer is lost.
Welcome to the missing moment in the buying journey when your dealers sell multiple product lines in addition to your brand.
The way to solve this gap is to control your messaging by working closely with your dealership to control the buying journey for your brand. Dedicate a landing page on the local dealer’s website to your brand products and make sure that the message on their social media pages is a good representation of your brand with a consistent flow of brand content.
Many dealers are unaware of the leads via your manufacturer website or the amount of earlier research the consumer has completed before visiting the dealer’s website or store site.
Start the partner process now to work closely together with your dealers to align your brand with their marketing strategy and help in making the buying process easier on consumers, and solve the missing connection in the buying journey.
Jim Jabaay is the vice president of LotVantage, a digital marketing company for dealerships and original equipment manufacturers. LotVantage specializes in posting dealer inventory to Craigslist, eBay and driving engagement on social media on behalf of their customers. Visit lotvantage.com or call 1-888-569-3865