RV Having Fun Yet?

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I recently met with an RV dealer in southern Minnesota. He had been considering using small-market radio stations to sell his RVs. He had used radio before in larger markets and was skeptical about his results. After our conversation, he wasn’t just thinking about radio anymore, I gave him an idea that convinced him that broadcast advertising was the best thing he could utilize to create new customers.

Before I tell you what we discussed, first some background. He told us that his average sale is $60,000 dollars. Again, that’s his average sale. His gross margin on new RVs is 15 percent. It’s even higher on used. Think about that…15 percent of $60,000 is $9,000. So think about how many $9,000s would have to walk through his door to pay for your measly $5,000 weekly budget?

During our casual conversation he gave me information that he uses as “talking points” when he is persuading customers to pull the trigger and buy from him. I’ll list some of them. But important for you to know is that none of these points ever appeared in any of his broadcast advertising. Why? Because he, like most of us, believes that commercials are supposed to “sound” like commercials. There has to be a “sales event” or he doesn’t advertise. He and his rep used clichés to build a script, even though he never reads scripts to customers on the showroom floor. Production uses big voices and sound effects to hammer out the spot. Because he mentions specific deals he needs long disclaimers. Ten pounds of crap in a five-pound bag.

Here’s what he told me (without a script) as I began asking him questions about purchasing an RV.

• You may not be in a position to own a vacation house…but you could easily afford one of these instead, and now your back yard could be anywhere in the country you’d like it to be.
• Perfect for people who really want to see this beautiful country but don’t feel comfortable flying.
• Gas is getting cheaper, engines more efficient, and you never have to spend money on expensive hotels or airfare.
• First-time buyers may be afraid to drive one of these things…so he will ride with you as many times as you’d like before you buy…and show you precisely how to turn without hitting curbs, how to back up, etc.
• Most people don’t realize how open and friendly the nationwide RV community is and how they fall all over each other to help you with any questions or problems you might be having as a newbie.
• RVers love to caravan…so you’re never alone unless you want to be.
• He is part of a nation-wide network of RV maintenance facilities to help you if you ever break down.
• Back to Community: RV people make a whole new circle of friends and they agree to meet again and again over the years in spectacular locations all over the country.
• You can rent before you buy to make absolutely certain you want to own your own RV before you commit.
• You will probably end up owning your own anyway, because you get tired of packing and unpacking.
• This generation of RVs is tough! They don’t break down and the motors are powerful. They have to be to make it up mountain roads.
• Interiors are fabulous. Sides fold out to make rooms twice as big. Showers are normal size. On-board flat-screen TVs, big refrigerators, normal-sized stoves.
• He will store your RV at his facility. If you call him on Wednesday, yours will be out and ready to go by Friday, gassed up and clean both inside and out.
• You can finance these things for up to 20 years, making payments reasonable for working people.
• If you finance, you can write off interest just as you could with a second home.
• Many customers come in after selling their homes, deciding that after years of work they’d rather hit the road and see this country instead of living in one place for the rest of their lives.

Sounds cool, makes me actually think I’d like to try it sometime. Again, the point: Why weren’t these attractive features ever mentioned in any of his broadcast advertising? Print as well. In his newspaper ads and on TV all we saw were overhead shots of big white boxes. Inside though, they’re really, really cool.

The dealer himself is a walking testimonial. He really loves the life and it shows when he talks about it. We record a conversation without scripts. He sounds passionate, articulate, and he’s the expert. We can make commercials in his words. Audiences will sense that he is the expert and that he is honest. What’s wrong with that?

The dealer knows a lot about RVs and RVers. But he doesn’t know jack about how to market them or how to budget for advertising. It’s your job to help him.

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