Smashing the Internet Retail Perception to Pieces
marketing case study of offline retailer
I believe that too many businesses out there don’t really grasp what the internet is and what it can mean … and do … for their business. Let me introduce to you Behling Racing equipment in Butler, WI.
Behling’s (as regular customers call them) has been a retailer of auto racing parts since the seventies. They not only serve the local auto racing market, but do ship nation wide and even globally to places like New Zealand and Australia. Their main focus on marketing lies on word of mouth and catalog sales. They do have a large inventory which consisted of over 10,000 sku’s.
The Common Offline Misconception
They did have a website for years, but it was not well optimized and was rarely updated. They were sold on a platform that was difficult to use, customer service was barely existent, and was very extensive. This really damaged their perception on what internet marketing and retailing is really all about. When I first approached them to see if I could help … they had the misconception that it was going to be difficult, expensive, complicated, and risky. The thought brought on by previous experience was that they would have start from scratch and it would be a monumental project. That is absolutely not the case. Even the smallest … simplest websites, with a good marketing plan in place, will have a huge return for the business.
A WordPress Platform Switch
The first thing that really needed to be done was to switch platforms from their old system to WordPress. But, you say WordPress is a blogging platform for beatniks, artists, and soccer moms. Actually, WordPress has evolved into a powerful web platform that is powerful enough to host very large company websites, can be integrated with shopping carts to create a great retailing site, and is still easy enough to use that just about anyone within the business can be taught to manage it rather easily. Anyone who has used common word processor software can update a WordPress site. Behling’s had an internal person who did the design work on their catalog, so he did most of the design and content uploading. I basically did the nuts and bolts and did the configuration for SEO and traffic funnel.
Integrate the Marketing Plan
The next thing that really needed to be done is to create an actual plan of attack. I believe the best marketing plan will incorporate both online and offline together. There are two approaches to this as I see it.
- The website is the central hub to everything. It can be used to build mailing lists, educate, sell product, and take orders … 24hrs a day … 7 days a week. This is a powerful asset that really can’t be ignored.Web sales pages are created to push the customer toward the shopping cart instead of an offline phone number. The online shopping cart is the only way to view the products.
- The second and the one I prefer most gives the customer the power to choose how they want to interact with you. Things like creating a way on the website to obtain a print version of the catalog, special coupon offers that can either be redeemed online or printed to be brought in to be redeemed, or including a physical address field in the list builder so company communications can be received offline as well.
It was decided at Behling’s to go with the latter because A) They were already seeing success with their catalog and B) To build a website to handle everything under the sun would be complicated and expensive. I convinced them to start out slow, get a good website in place, and concentrate on building traffic rather than getting something very expensive, very complicated and have no traffic. Margins in the racing industry are typically very low, so getting a large amount of traffic is the key.
Getting the Traffic to Behlingracing.com
There is another trend I am seeing online that doesn’t really seem right. Too many business are creating leaks in their sales funnels and every pushing customers away from their own websites to go to places like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or You Tube. These are great places to aggregate traffic, but at the end of the day you want the traffic funneling back to your site.
If you rely on any of these sites as your home base for your business interaction with the public … and they change the rules or go out of business … you’re out of business.
The market you’re in and the social habits of the customer will really determine where you want to first concentrate your efforts of attraction.
The Facebook Effect
I had noticed early the auto racing community was heavily involved in Facebook, so this seemed to be a good source for initial traffic to the new Behlingracing.com. They did have a Facebook page, but rarely updated it. I explained that a simple posting of something valuable once a day would start to build an audience and begin to push traffic to their site. I worked rather well. A posting of some technical tidbits and a couple of offers instantly pushed their traffic numbers up on their site. A little word of caution here … don’t over do it. Facebook is a social channel … you really don’t want to get bombarded by offers to continually buy something and you don’t want to sit next to the person on the bus who never shuts up. Treat the Facebook community how you want to be treated. Postings two to three times a day is plenty to get attention.
The Ebay Leak
Until the time permits to get a shopping cart up and running on the site, a decision was made to install an Ebay store on to the front page of the web site. I’m not totally in agreement with this because it provides an outbound leak of traffic away from the site rather than towards. Once on Ebay it is too easy for shoppers to browse other listings. I would rather see a stand alone Ebay store … with links pointing back to the Behling racing equipment homepage, appropriate catalog page, or even an in-house sales page.
So … What is Next for Behling Racing Equipment
We are planning a direct mail project for the end of November, around Black Friday time. I will post updates as well as other projects that are planned for the future.
If you are interested in other case studies I worked on … click this link and head over to another page of my site where that is. This is a case study I did about a used car dealer on Milwaukee’s south side called Diamond Jim’s Auto Sales.
If your business is struggling with old marketing ideas and you just need a fresh perspective on what you are doing … give me a call about consulting or copywriting … 608-561-8691 or drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.