Opinion: What You and the Yellowstone Ranch Have in Common

A picture of Ron Wheeler

In the ever-evolving world of business, competition is constant. The RV industry is no exception.

For dealers who have built successful RV dealerships from the ground up, resting on their laurels and believing they secured their place in the market can be easy. However, the truth is, no business—no matter how successful—can afford to ignore the threat from competitors vying for their market share.

This is where you walk the same path as John Dutton on the TV series “Yellowstone.”

The ranch is big, gorgeous, wonderful and fighting for its life. When people look at a ranch or business, they may think that enterprise became successful easily. As you and I know, quite the contrary is true.

As I studied Statistical Surveys data this year, I could not help but think dealers are like John Dutton. Your business was started by past generations. Mothers, fathers, grandparents—often even further back. The dealership you have today was built on the blood, sweat and tears of many before you.

Just as with the Dutton Ranch, you have big groups now wanting to seize your business. You are being hit from many sides. Competitors want what you built over the years, without any regard for all your hard work and sacrifice.

RV dealerships, like any other business, operate in a dynamic environment. The moment they achieve success and start expanding, they attract attention from other groups that are eager to claim a piece of the pie. This is a reality every RV dealership owner and manager should acknowledge and address.

In the words of John Dutton’s dad, as he passed away on the side of the mountain: “Don’t give up an inch…not one single inch.”

You need to stand up and acknowledge where you are today. You have a target on your back.

At no time in the RV retail world’s history have more people wanted what you created.

It is called market share.

You must protect your market share every single day. When you wake up, go to lunch and drive home, the attacks are coming from all directions. Just as on “Yellowstone,” the pressure never stops.

Here are a few ideas to help protect what you have created as well as kick some butt.

Go on Offense

Start with this thought: A good offense is a good defense. If you are not growing, you are dying. So, let’s strategically be the hunter and find your competitors’ customers.

To begin, you can implement three easy actions.

  1. Invest in conquest email. This is emailing your competitors’ customers, ones who own RVs and are actively in the market. For 3 cents per email, you can keep a strong, active presence in key geographic areas.
  2. Ask for a hashed file of the conquest email list. The encrypted hashed file, which you cannot read, is the digital print of consumers on the email list. From this encrypted list, you can upload and continue marketing on Facebook, Google and streaming video (OTT).
  3. Invest in Mobile Capture. Mobile Capture works this way. Choose locations like competitors, campgrounds, state parks and even RV shows. Once you have selected an area, Mobile Capture will provide 12 months of historical data of every person who had a location device open on their mobile phone while within your geofence boundaries. You will capture consumers’ mobile IDs. You can take their mobile ID and upload it, just like the hashed file, to multiple media channels. Remember, this is 12 months of historical data.

The bottom line here is data. You need all the data possible on prospective clients. The more targeted your conquest marketing is, the more you can do and the less waste you will have. You will need it elsewhere.

Lower-Funnel Consumers

To provide resistance, you need to fortify the lower purchase funnel shoppers. Remember, these individuals do active online searches through Google or Bing, have done a lot of research up to this point and are whittling down who to engage.

You have invested in your floorplan. Now is the time to protect your investment. So, put the right product in front of the right people.

Defining the right people requires a two-part answer: those who conduct a detailed or specific search and those who are geographically desirable.

Let’s start with where they live. A website click from a prospect within 10 miles of your store is simply more valuable than a click from someone 100 miles away. You have a better chance of closing the first person simply because of distance.

You may have a valid reason for expanding your marketing 100 miles out. If you are doing so, however, make sure you are scrutinizing those decisions.

Next, the more relevant and fine-tuned your search campaigns are, the more you will engage with people serious about RV shopping. Spending heavily on generic search terms can produce a lot of searches but might not be a good use of your money. Do not believe that every click is equal because they are not. Target shoppers you think are deeper in the purchase funnel by the search terms they use.

To ensure you are maximizing your search return, follow these four points. Your goal is to get your fair traffic share via strategy and cost control.

  1. Make sure you have a dynamic campaign set up for your inventory. A dynamic campaign instantly builds ads that match your current inventory to the relevant inventory search. The key takeaway here is the more relevant your ad is, the more clicks these low-funnel searches will get. Dynamic ads are four to five times more effective than generic ones for the same search but do not cost four or five times more.
  2. Be wary of buying your competitors’ names. If you see someone trying to buy your company name, do not overreact. This strategy is a very expensive Hail Mary, and your dealership is likely irrelevant to the consumer search initiated. You will pay 10 times more for that click than your competitors will for their names. The real strategic play is to buy your own name and protect this space. This strategy is not expensive but you can easily protect this space if you feel you need to.
  3. Most of you are probably purchasing Google AdWords, but I would suggest investing some money in Bing. Bing has less competition, so the search engine costs less—two things that should excite you.
  4. The final step to take to shore up this activity is to invest some money in Performance Max, also referred to as PMAX. This is a new Google product that works well. Although not the entire solution, PMAX can help protect and grow your market share.

This lower-funnel search activity is where you will find the most pressure on your business. Using the right resource and the right plan optimization is imperative to attracting and securing these potential buyers. This is a moving target, so do not start it and then ignore it.

The Final Countdown

The final battleground you absolutely cannot afford to lose is remarketing.

You have spent your marketing money effectively and are building high-quality website traffic. These visitors are extremely valuable. They have put you on their consideration list, a feat that is not easy for a business to achieve.

It is easy to get the low-hanging fruit as they call, text, email or even visit, but how many are close to buying from you? Will those consumers react to the dealership that asks for their business? If you do not ask, you probably will not get the prospects’ business.

So, here are three key points to ensure you maximize your marketing budget.

  1. Set up your basic remarketing campaign with Google display. This list builds every day and needs to be used. It is free, so do it right now.
  2. Set up dynamic retargeting through Facebook. This is a very inexpensive tool that takes the RVs an individual visited and puts a carousel ad, with four or five other RVs, in their Facebook timeline. People viewing detail pages on your website are the most valuable prospects you have. For pennies, you can continue to suggest RVs to them. Once again, if you are not doing this, do so right now.
  3. Finally, this tool goes by many different names, but I call it the abandoned shopper list. This is a list you can create with a special tool comprising people who visited your website. Yes, you heard me right, for nearly everyone who visits your website, you can get their email address—and sometimes, even more information—of nearly everyone who visits your website. With these relevant and timely email acquisitions, you can retarget email blasts to these individuals. This tool is not super cheap but is critical to fight off the barbarians at your door.

So, pull up your boots, put on your hat, saddle up and go fight to keep what you earned. Do not take what you have for granted.

Every day, people are looking at your business and scheming how to take it from you. Remember John Dutton’s dad: “Don’t give up an inch…not one single inch!”


Ron Wheeler is founder and principal at Wheeler Advertising. Ron has been a speaker at RVDA for more than 30 years and at NADA for more than 18 years.

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