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This article was first published in the December 2018 issue of British Dealer News.

As 2018 winds down towards Christmas, now is the ideal time to review your social media activity and plan for next year.

Did you make the most of Motorcycle Live’s social media mileage? If you accumulated a stock of fun and interesting photos and video clips while you were there, you’re hopefully still rolling them out through your social channels and seeing audience engagement continue.

From a social media point of view, the motorcycle trade has been as naughty as it’s been nice during 2018. On the nice side of the equation, one in five of you are now using Instagram, the fastest growing social network; you’re posting content more frequently, particularly on Facebook; your audiences have grown; and more of you are getting to grips with the power of Twitter. There’s much to be positive about and there are plenty of examples of businesses doing a really good job of promoting themselves. However, a far greater proportion of motorcycle dealers, retailers and distributors still exhibiting a dogged determination to keep their heads buried firmly in the social media sand. Perhaps that’s because they’re all doing so amazingly well that they don’t need to do any marketing. Maybe they’re happy plodding along doing what they’ve always done and hoping for the best. Or could it be they just can’t be arsed?

7% of the motorcycle businesses in my 2017 social media survey had vanished by the time I repeated it this year. Many factors will have played a part in their demise, but ignoring the importance of effective marketing (not just social media) will have inevitably been among the more significant.

So assuming you’re keen on the idea of still being in business by the end of 2019, what are you going to do to improve your marketing? To figure that out, I’d recommend you take a leaf out of Santa’s tried and tested book and make yourself a list. A list, that is, of objective answers to a whole bunch of simple questions that will help you understand your current state of play and guide how you use your resources in the future. Here are some questions to get you started:

What marketing did you do in 2018 (events, sponsorship, advertising, email, social media, in store, etc.)? What worked and what didn’t (how do you know)? What role does your website have in all this? What did your peers and competitors do, and what could you do differently or better? What are the brands you stock doing? How did you, and could you, take advantage of their work? Do the brands you stock share your social media posts? If not, why not? What original online content have you produced? How are you integrating all your marketing activity in general, and your social media activity in particular? Who and where are your most valuable customers? What kind of bikes/kit do they buy and how does your social media and other marketing activity relate to their motorcycling interests (learners, new bikers, men vs. women, age groups, bike styles, types of riding, etc.)? Do you and your team have the skills you need, or the time? What do you need and want to achieve in 2019?

Armed with all that information, and more besides, you’ll be in a great position to plan ahead. For instance, just thinking about the first part of the new year, you could engage your audience with useful and entertaining content about riding in the winter months (or not, as the case may be); you could come up with ways to reach your trade partners and customers via social media before, during and after the Motorcycle Trade Expo at Stoneleigh (20-22 January); and then there’s the lead-up to the spring riding season and the momentum provided by new registrations in March.

Give yourself the gift of a better marketing plan this Christmas. I promise you it’ll be worth the effort. In the meantime, here’s to a prosperous 2019. Cheers.