9 Effective Marketing Strategies For Local Bike Shops

In a world where massive stores like Toys R

Us succumb to the cut-throat pricing strategies of online retailers, the bike shop owner has to be extra-savvy as they compete for their client’s business.

 

Most bike shop owners start their shops as a way to monetize their passion. Passion first, profits second.

It’s a model that has worked for hundreds of years (Even Cycling360 is driven by passion).

Passion can offer an advantage. It creates synergy when you work in an industry that you enjoy. It is the passion that drives you to dig more deeply into the intricacies of your craft and to have the best information.

But, the competition is rising. Little bike blogs like Dave’s Cheap Bikes cater to the beginner rider with similar information, and Youtube is full of DIY videos for the handy bike owner.

Passion is no longer the panacea it once was. In some ways, it can hurt the local shop.

A good example of this is the “friend’s discount.” Bike shop owners are friends with many of their clients. It is difficult to say “no” to yet another discount that your riding buddy is asking for.

And cyclists are a notoriously frugal crowd who have no problem haggling a lower price.

All too often loyalty to the local shop is only as deep as the discount that is being offered. Most of us know that discount wars are an excellent way to go out of business.

So, how is a shop owner supposed to compete in a global economy where the bottom-line is more important than how passionate or engaged in the community he is.

He does it by attracting the right kind of customer. And lots of them.

Identifying and Attracting Your Ideal Client

One of the best ways to maintain profits is by catering to the beginner cyclist. New cyclists are quickly overwhelmed by the sport and are willing to pay a little extra to have a guiding hand to help them through the purchasing process.

These new cyclists also tend to stay loyal to a shop that gives them an enjoyable experience. They return for repairs, to buy their second bike, and often become multi-generational customers, bringing their children or other friends and relative to purchase bikes.

Instead of competing for the limited loyalties of existing cyclists, using our strategies that focus on new cyclists, is an excellent way to rapidly your user base.

Here are several marketing tips that can help your local shop stand out in the community and bring in a steady stream of new traffic, including new cyclists.

Sponsoring Fitness Events

Many local businesses — typically the ones with over 1,000 people — will have fitness fairs. They invite other local businesses to offer fitness training or to have a booth.

Your local hospitals and gyms often host fitness events as well. Sponsoring these or having a booth at them can help drive awareness and traffic. This can even expand to local craft fairs, parades and festivals.

Find events where it is very affordable to get your name out. Depending on your community it may be worth it to sponsor the high school baseball team.

Prioritize those opportunities where fitness-seeking people will be participating. Once you hit the most fitness-focused events, you can begin investing in the ones that are only spectator sports.

Run promotional codes for each event, so you can track where your customers are coming from. Advertise and participate repeatedly in the channels that bring you the most business. Cancel the advertising channels that don’t yield results.

Supporting Charity Bike Rides

This is a given for most bike shops. You will need a mobile bike shop setup, even if it is just a collapsible bike stand and a multi-tool.

This is an excellent place to create new friendships within the bike community. You can often attract new business by connecting with cyclists who may not have a local shop loyalty in place.

Additionally, many of the new cyclists are the ones who need air or other small adjustments. Being present as support on these chairty rides allows you to connect with these new riders.

Partnering With Local Gyms

Where do fitness-seeking people congregate? Well, the gym, of course! Your local spin classes can be one of the best “feeders” for your local cycling program.

As much as possible, advertise your local cycling events and specials to this community of athletes. It might even be worthwhile to offer a discount to specific gyms that the gym can promote as an added benefit of joining their gym.

Hosting Ladies-only Events

Ladies are an under-represented crowd in cycling. Cater to them.

Offer special shopping nights. Or hands-on mechanic training. Or support ladies-only weeknight rides that start at your shop.

These ladies-focused cycling events can help you capture a large class of women who would otherwise be intimidated by the sport. And when mama starts riding, you can bet her husband and kids will join her.

Starting An Email List

Most shops overlook this. Your best customer is the one that has already given you money. It is a proven fact in retail sales that you can make more money off of existing customers than you can off of new ones.

Even if you only email your customers once a month, a list can help you build your trust with them and keep you front of mind.

Building A Website

It can be a small website, but it should state your hours and show your showroom floor and offer a bio on the owner.

Make sure to keep it updated with your essential information, add a list of frequently asked questions to it, and include a monthly blog post that you can send to your email list.

Getting In Google My Business

Google My Business and Apple Maps are two basic directory listings that your business must be listed in.

When customers look for a bike shop in your town, you want to make sure that you are, literally, “on the map”. These two sites are free and offer an easy (and official) way to put your business into the online map. 

Complete these map profiles with pictures and video. Update them a couple of times a year, and ask your friends, family, and most frequent shoppers (maybe your email list?) to stop by your listing and leave a positive review on your profile.

For many local businesses, this listing results in the bulk of their business. Don’t skip this step. 

Guest Posting On Other Blogs

This is a practice that is not common among local businesses.

Now, providing content for bike shops outside of your immediate vicinity is not going to bring business to your site directly. However, you must get links to your site if you want to outrank the competition in Google.

You will already have quite a few from the local events that you sponsor. But you can get even more exposure by offering informed, helpful content to bike blogs and other shop’s websites.

In exchange, they’ll send a link to your website as credit.

Podcasts, such as those that have been done here on Cycling360Media are another excellent way to get exposure.

Once again, this exposure does not translate directly into sales, but it does increase your local visibility when your potential customers look up bike shops near them.

And it makes you appear to be more of an authority on the subject of bicycles.

Creating An Engaging Social Media Presence

This is the least-important step.

At this time, Instagram still offers solid reach, and, if you want to add a post every day, you should get good exposure from that.

Make it personable, and, if necessary, invest in a small light kit so your posts look professional.

Facebook has limited reach, and, while you will want to keep your channel updated weekly, it may not be as important to push daily updates there.

Although, if you are updating one, you may as well update the other.

Some shops have good results by targeting a local geographic area and running offers and events that are attractive to cyclists. Expect to spend several hundred dollars on advertising experiments, before finding the combination that your community responds to.

Social media is important, but it is not the most important thing.

Every bike shop owner is going to have a list of promotional items that intrigue them the most. Start with those. But always measure your results.

The local bike shop plays an essential role in our communities, and they need savvy management if they are going to survive.

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