Buckeye Marine does many things well – you don’t reach the No. 4 spot on the Top 100 list without excelling at all aspects of the marine business.
But where Buckeye truly separates itself from the rest of the Top 100 is in the company’s marketing efforts. From its carefully developed (but always flexible) annual plan to excellent social media efforts and events, Buckeye stands out as the Best in Class.
Buckeye’s marketing starts with a plan developed every November in conjunction with budget planning. Methods, outlets and spending levels are adjusted based on the success or lack thereof in the previous year. The Buckeye team looks at five key factors when developing the annual plan:
- Types of media, maximized by the season when they are most effective
- Increase exposure, keeping the budget in check
- Trim out inefficiencies/measure return on investment
- Consistent messaging and branding
- Focus on keeping customers and gaining new ones
That plan then guides – but doesn’t dictate – the marketing for the next year. It is adjusted as market conditions fluctuate or other changes occur, such as the opening of Buckeye’s second location in 2012.
“Our plan is just like a road map … you know where you want to go and the way you want to get there but there is always the chance you may need to take a detour as the market dictates,” said Carly Poole, marketing coordinator.
Buckeye carefully monitors its marketing spend to guide the planning process, tracking the cost and return for every medium.
“When creating our plan we scale back in some areas where inefficiency was found given reporting from the prior year and ramp up in other areas as our economic and demographic landscape changes,” Poole said.
On all print media, Buckeye uses custom 800 numbers and a specialized call tracking system that allows the company to see where calls are coming from, duration of each call and the number which customers are calling as well as the number that they are calling from.
Buckeye monitors online traffic through Google Analytics, tracking sources, search engine optimization and keywords. Traffic on Facebook and other social media sites is tracked and analyzed as well.
“This reporting has proven to be invaluable as it lets us see changes that need to be made to our online media to take better advantage of it as well as telling us where we need to continue to advertise with third parties,” Poole said. “As an additional advantage, it gives us great demographic information that will work across all mediums.”
“We have found event marketing to be a very successful way of branding Buckeye,” Poole said. “Because of the events we organize and promote, we are known for our community and industry philanthropy, customer appreciation and boating lifestyle enthusiasm. This is recognized by both our clients, prospective clients, the boating industry and the community.”
By working with other local businesses to support some of the events, Buckeye has also been able to keep costs lower and stretch its event marketing dollar. Buckeye has partnered with local car dealers, restaurants, sports stores and countless local nonprofits to execute its events.
Buckeye is also at the forefront of the marine industry with its digital marketing. The company recognizes that consumers are visiting a company’s website and checking them out on social media multiple times before ever entering the dealership. With that in mind, Buckeye updates content and inventory on a daily basis. The company launched its first mobile-enhanced site in 2009.
“We have built our website with the intention of providing a reliable and content-rich boating resource,” Poole said. “We know that our website is our company represented online and as such needs to be an adequate representation of the well-rounded, established and professional business that we run.”
Buckeye also makes extensive use of social media, with active accounts for both locations on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest and more.
“It allows us to connect with our customers and allows potential clients to experience this interaction.” Poole said. For this reason social media is like word of mouth on steroids, and we know that it is an important growing and ever-changing medium that is of great importance to our business.”