Thanks to Eric Lipsky of Beasley Media Group in Boston for this week’s Advertiser Success Story. Boston Lawnmower is an outdoor retail power equipment store located in Westborough, MA. They sell to municipalities, consumers, and commercial landscapers. Market Director Tricia Campero has been with the business for over 20 years. She takes care of all the advertising, media relations, website design, accounting, and co-op. Thanks to the relationship Tricia has crafted with Eric and Beasley media in Boston, business is booming at Boston Lawnmower. (Our weekly Advertiser Success Stories are sponsored by Sun & Fun Media)
Radio Ink: How long has the business been operating and what do you sell in the winter?
Tricia: We’ve been around since the early ’90s. In winter we sell a lot of snow blowers. Usually our season starts in August and goes through December, depending on the amount of snow we get. If we get storms in February, we’ll be busy too. During that time we sell some tractors with snow plows and we’re doing a lot of pre-season service and parts.
Eric: We have tax-free holiday weekends in August and they have not been approved by the government for the last two years. That has made it hard because that’s where they would do a lot of deals. Anybody selling anything $2500 or less, big ticket items like that, are done in advance of season. So without that they have been reliant on the weather. Thankfully they see a lot of value in advertising through radio which has helped pick up their sales.
Tricia: With tax free weekend, which they had been doing but have not for the past two years, it advertised itself. We would do a small amount of radio, newspaper, and Web advertising. Without that tax-free weekend it does affect small businesses like ours, so we use radio, because in August people start thinking about winter. We use radio to let people know we are still having sales, they should come in and buy before the storm hits. We are able to do that successfully with a radio campaign. Summer can be slow if the grass is not growing. We relied on the tax-free weekend to move our snow-blower inventory. It was really difficult when they decided not to do it.
Radio Ink: What has your philosophy been on marketing and how has it evolved over the years?
Tricia: Part of me wants to say the Patriots really helped because everybody is so hyped up with them winning. So many people listen to radio sports talk shows now and that’s been new for us. We like to use the radio stations that our consumers listen to. With Eric, we use the Sports Hub and WROR and that has matched perfectly for the landscapers and customers that come in. It’s pretty much 99% men who come in, so that’s a perfect demographic.
Eric: With Tricia’s willingness to take on co-op she makes sure every penny is used and she’s leveraging her relationship with the manufacturers. More and more of the advertising is underwritten by them and she’s taking on the effort to actually execute it.
Tricia: We have a very good relationship with our manufacturers so when we have an idea that’s going to help us sell more inventory we don’t have any issues with them helping us out with advertising.
Radio Ink: How are you using radio?
Tricia: It’s a combination. We have a consumer open-house in the spring. We do radio advertising, a little cable, and Web. There are a lot of sales that go on in the spring at Boston Lawnmower and we like to inform people about them. We have a barbeque and we’ll use radio to promote those events like the open-house. We have give-a-aways and raffles. With the Patriots and snow season starting at the same time, we use The Sports Hub. We advertise on the sports talk shows because they target our customers. Those radio stations have a lot of people listening for Patriots information. That’s helped us a lot. We saw an increase in customer traffic with a lot of people saying “We heard you on The Sports Hub.” That’s targeted marketing for us and we’ll use them for a 3-4 week sale we’re having.
Eric: I want to make a point. Although Boston Lawnmower is only one location, using radio helps because they do service a broad area. Customers do travel quite a ways to come to this location.
Tricia: Eric and I have studied our Google analytics, the statistics of when our radio campaigns run, and how much more traffic is going to the website. We had a big increase when we did the August campaign. We were doing a pre-season sale and we had a specific page set aside for clearance snow blowers. You could see the amount of hits on that page rise significantly, using radio. There was also a Facebook ad that went with the package and people were able to click on that to go to our website. During that time we did see an increased presence on our website and people coming back. Once they visit our website, call, or email us they then come to the store, buy their equipment,and we get repeat business from them for service or parts. We’re finding these new customers by using radio. And having them come in generates repeat business, and that’s important for the industry we are in.
Radio Ink: How do you know you’re getting return on the commercials you’re airing on the radio.
Tricia: A lot of people come in and tell us they heard our ad on the radio or they saw us on Facebook through the radio personality links. Easily, in our industry, we could have weeks where there’s nobody walking through the door, especially in August if it’s too hot and the grass is not growing. As soon as we start advertising on the radio for our pre-season sales, or for specific events, we can see through our sales that things are happening. Especially when they’re coming from different towns. The rate of getting new customers has increased a lot too. Another reason we can tell radio is making an impact is that we’re a small business, we don’t necessarily have constant advertising going on. We are not placing a newspaper ad every week. We always advertise for specific purposes, whether it’s a service reason or an event. We can tell easily once a radio campaign starts going, the visits to our website are coming from the radio campaign. We don’t have to question if they saw us in the newspaper. We don’t often have multiple things going on at one time.
Radio Ink: Why do you think the relationship with Eric and the Beasley radio stations work?
Tricia: Eric comes in and works with us and we can explain to him exactly what we want to do and maybe what we don’t want to do. Eric works very closely with me and some of our other co-workers to make sure we create an ad campaign that specifically targets the message we want to get across. He helps us work with the manufacturers to make sure that it sticks to their co-op guidelines so we can get reimbursed. He gives us great suggestions. He’ll tell us we might get a bigger bang if you go here and do it at this timeframe. He’s very knowledgeable regarding what might make the most impact on the radio. We value his opinion and his suggestions. We have been working with him for a while now and it has been a great match. The other part of our company is we have warehousing and we help distribute equipment to other parts of New England; and so not only does Eric help us at Boston Lawnmower but he helps countless other dealers in this area through the manufacturer. It has been a great match.
Radio Ink: What would you like to see the radio industry do better?
Tricia: I can’t complain about what we’ve seen. I really like that disbursement of when the different ads run. It’s spread out evenly for our campaigns and toward the higher-traffic programs that are on the radio. Before we met Eric, we had done some radio advertising and we really didn’t think it made a difference. We went through a time of not doing much, but once we met Eric and started going on different radio stations that better targeted our audience, it’s been very successful. Now that Boston Lawnmower is doing campaigns with WROR and The Sports Hub, it’s been great. We are also working with manufacturers to help get our name out there more. People are hearing more and more and they think of us, especially when it starts snowing.
Radio Ink: What advice do you have for other advertisers who might be on the fence thinking about using radio and haven’t actually made that jump yet?
Tricia: I think we have been successful because we’ve had specific events or sales that we could run and see the traffic. I would suggest that they work with the ad rep to try come up with an event or sale that you can really measure what comes out of that ad campaign. We were doing radio wrong before. When Eric became our rep he taught us a lot about radio that we didn’t know and showed us how we can use it effectively. It’s about finding the right ad campaign, working closely with your rep, and taking the risk. Once we knew what we were doing it has been very successful.
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