Business improving relationship with dealer and shaking hands.

Whether a company has had an established dealer or distributor marketing network for decades or began their program last year, managing the dealer network to encourage brand engagement is always a top concern. More engaged dealers take greater advantage of marketing, sales, and branding opportunities, which in turn garners more recognition and sales of products and services. 

Creating a successful dealer marketing program depends on engagement from both the dealers and the brand. This should be a mutually beneficial partnership, which requires mutual effort.

Creating a successful dealer marketing program depends on engagement from both the dealers and the brand.

Engage With Them

The best way to engage dealers is to improve engagement with them. It seems simple: the more effort a brand makes to engage with a dealer, the easier it is for the dealer to engage with the brand. This can be done in multiple ways.

To start, the brand marketing team should establish regular communication with the dealer, which will make it easier for them to respond or reach out as they need. The purpose of this communication is to build a foundation for confidence, but it can also be utilized to share updates, give marketing pointers, or simply check in. Continuous effort to nurture this communication builds trust and shows that the brand is dedicated to dealer success.

Additionally, part of dealer network engagement is facilitating brand marketing opportunities. Most dealerships are juggling a range of sales and services activities and find that marketing can fall to the wayside. Creating programs and packages for dealers to enroll in makes it easier for them to complete needed marketing efforts — plus it ensures that those marketing efforts are brand-focused.

Align on Goals

With a strong foundation of communication, the next step in strengthening dealer engagement for both the the brand and the dealer is to align on goals. While both sides want to sell the product or service, there are a variety of ways to measure success. 

As part of a marketing agency, our Channel Marketing teams prioritize marketing-centric goals: getting dealerships to execute marketing tactics and continually improve on key metrics. The first hurdle when aligning on marketing goals is skepticism: dealers are less likely to buy in if they do not understand where their marketing dollars are going or what their metrics mean. Providing resources and education helps dealers gain that knowledge and in turn see the value of marketing. 

Dealership goals are focused on sales, service, and customer relationships. How can the company’s marketing team align their goals with the goals of the dealership? Similarly, how can brand goals and dealership goals be fulfilled simultaneously? A mutually beneficial partnership relies on common goals.

Boost Engagement With Incentives

Despite regular communication and shared goals, there will always be dealers that are unengaged or uninterested for any number of reasons. Even the most engaged dealers might need some pull at times. Providing incentives for certain actions can help entice dealers while simultaneously boosting specific brand goals.

For example, if the company is emphasizing digital marketing tactics, then larger co-op reimbursement could be given to dealers for executing a paid search campaign. Those that are not running a paid search campaign may feel more inclined to start, and those that already are will appreciate the additional benefit.

Some incentives can even be based on engagement: the more a dealer participates, the more perks and benefits they may receive. In this way, engagement may include co-op dollars spent, programs enrolled in, or products sold. Incentives should be carefully selected so that there is a benefit for both the brand and the dealer.

Understanding the mutually beneficial partnership between a brand and dealer is integral to the success of the relationship. There needs to be engagement from both sides to ensure long-term goals can be met. Engaging with dealers, aligning on goals, and incentivizing for a boost are excellent strategies to encourage brand engagement from dealers. 

Interested in learning more about channel marketing strategy? See our three channel marketing program must-haves.