When it comes to marketing, sometimes there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Tire manufacturers use their resources – deep pockets included – to promote their brands nationally, giving tire dealers excellent opportunities to take advantage at the local level. Whether your shop represents one or one dozen tire brands, it’s worthwhile to find out what opportunities exist to expand your own marketing efforts by riding the coattails of tiremakers, each of which offers its dealers exclusive tools and opportunities at their disposal.
We talked to a few manufacturers to learn about some examples of how dealers can maximize their brand partnerships.
Big Brand Awareness
It’s a no-brainer to take advantage of multi-million dollar consumer ad campaigns carried out by tire manufacturers. As an example, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. achieves billions of impressions annually and invests significantly across traditional (TV, print, radio) and emerging media (digital, social) to drive awareness and further build its brand, according to Todd Macsuga, general manager of brand marketing for Goodyear.
“Consumer recall of the Goodyear brand is two times larger than our next closest competitor,” he says. “Continued focus on live sports remains a cornerstone of communication efforts, and we enjoy well-established sponsorships in college football, NASCAR, and the NBA. … The Goodyear Blimp remains one of the most recognized brand icons ever created. Dedicated commercials for each sponsorship help drive year-round media presence.”
Macsuga adds that Goodyear’s national media campaign helps generate demand and drive consumers into tire dealers’ shops. “The Goodyear name stands for quality, performance, and trust,” he says. “Simply hanging that blue and yellow sign in the parking lot signals consumers that they are pulling into a professional store that offers a great brand experience.”
Matt Arko, manager of shopper marketing, says Goodyear aims to minimize the cost and effort its dealers need to put forth in order to capitalize on brand awareness: its Tire & Service Network program provides turnkey marketing solutions – from promotional in-store POS materials to customizable ad templates and branded social media content – to help save dealers both time and money.
“We believe that our brand is our most powerful asset – the fact that we rank #1 in brand awareness is testament to that,” he continues. “We encourage our dealers to capitalize on this by leveraging the Goodyear brand alongside their own, because we recognize that our dealers are the face of Goodyear in their local communities.”
Customized Advertising and Tools
From advertising to in-store displays and all the necessary tools in between, many manufacturers aim to make it as easy as possible for dealers to boost their businesses.
As part of its “Clutch Performance” consumer marketing campaign, which showcases the ability of Bridgestone tires to perform in the moments that matter most, Bridgestone Americas activates across a variety of consumer touchpoints, including TV, radio, print, digital display, digital video, social media and in-store point-of-purchase materials, according to Jeffrey Lack, vice president of marketing for Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, U.S. and Canada Consumer Group.
“Dealers can tie into Bridgestone and Firestone national promotions by utilizing the POP (point of purchase) kits sent to their dealership,” he says. “Additionally, digital, TV, radio and print ads that mirror the national promotion are available for free for a dealer to download on BridgestoneMarketing.com.”
If a dealer wants to activate outside of the national promotion timeline, they can capitalize on Bridgestone and Firestone sports partnerships, including NFL, NHL and NTT IndyCar Series, all of which offer assets that are available for dealer customization.
“Currently, Bridgestone offers co-op dollars to qualifying dealers, a POP kit for each national promotion and a variety of TV, radio, print and digital ads,” Lack says. “All these materials are available for free (online). If the assets do not fit the specific needs of a dealer, free, customizable services are available through the company’s retail marketing agency partner.
“Dealers also can purchase Bridgestone and Firestone-branded showroom displays and counters to enhance the customer’s experience while visiting their dealership,” he adds. “Additional items are available to enhance the waiting area.”
Lifestyle Branding Tie-Ins
When it comes to connecting with customers, offering advertising and promotions that cater to their interests is an effective component. With that in mind, Yokohama Tire Corp. selects its national sponsorships with the goal of activating locally, according to Alan Holtschneider, director of marketing.
“When we consider sponsorships, we make sure we’re doing some that allow us to create activation opportunities for our dealers to be engaged with, as well,” he says. “That could be sales unit opportunities or even internal personnel opportunities.”
For example, in 2018 the tiremaker’s two biggest sponsorships were Spartan Race, a series of obstacle races held around the world, and Nitro Circus, a live traveling show featuring dirtbike racing, base jumping and a variety of stunts. In the markets where each event was coming through, tire dealer sales promotions were available: buy four tires, get two tickets to Nitro Circus; and buy four tires, get a Spartan entry pass (a $200 value).
“We also support youth soccer and have a global sponsorship with Chelsea (Football Club),” Holtschneider says. “English Premier League isn’t as big in the U.S. as some local sports, so we flipped that one to be about the youth soccer market around the country. Dealers are able to send their customers’ or employees’ kids to clinics taught by Chelsea coaches.”
Yokohama strives to make the promotions and local activation opportunities as easy for dealers as possible.
“Dealers don’t have a lot of time in the store to go through a promotion; they don’t want to spend the time to explain how it works. Dealers want to focus on the customer and selling the tires, not going through the nitty gritty of a promotion,” Holtschneider explains. “The way we handle promotions helps reinforce the lifestyle aspects of the consumers and gives dealers options to tie and promote excitement around these cool activities.”
Local Sports Activation
As we’ve covered in previous issues, sports marketing is an effective, lasting strategy when it comes to increasing brand awareness. Partnering with a tiremaker’s campaign in this arena, while it likely will require some extra effort on a dealer’s part, is a win-win scenario for both parties.
For example, in 2018, Continental Tire’s consumer brand awareness campaign – which encompassed racing, U.S. Soccer, Major League Soccer, college basketball, etc. – resulted in more than 16 billion impressions, or $313 million worth of media exposure in total, according to Travis Roffler, director of marketing.
For dealers partnering with Continental, “Overwhelming is the access to that fanbase,” he says. “Survey after survey has shown that consumers are much more apt to buy products and services from the companies that support their love of the game.”
The tiremaker’s sponsorship of 35 college basketball teams and Major League Soccer (MLS) results in tickets, hospitality and event invitations for dealers as a benefit of their involvement, but the most powerful opportunity lies in the ability for a tire dealer to become an active participant at the local level.
In MLS markets where Conti dealers are present, shops can take advantage of co-op advertising on the field: cameras on one side of the field shoot the national broadcast, where the Continental branding is shown; while cameras on the other side film the broadcast for a local affiliate – this is where the dealer partner’s branding is visible.
“The signage is only seen in the local market, where it’s relevant to their brand,” Roffler explains. “They come in as the official retailer of Continental tires, in other words.”
These dealers also are given an opportunity to activate before games with the fanbase at the stadium, either in part with Continental or on a more local basis, “which can be as simple as setting up a pop-up canopy and some display tires while handing out store paraphernalia and/or Conti-branded brochures and products,” he adds.
At MLS pre-game events, Continental gives fans co-branded scarves and performs data capture. All data collected is then shared with the partner retailer, allowing them to actively reach out to those fans to encourage them to make a store visit.
“We’ll show up for up to a four-game stand, where we’ll activate in-market with the local fanbase,” Roffler says. “During that period of time, we could collect from 5,000 to 8,000 names. So if you are a co-op dealer partner, you get that database of 5,000+ names in market with active people that engage with the Continental brand. This can be powerful information for those dealers.”
Tire dealers who have partnered with Continental in its MLS sponsorship include Jack Williams Tire, Point S, Sullivan Tire, Tire Pros dealers and TBC Brands.
“They use it as a chance to connect with customers and associate themselves with the particular team in their local market, and it works out to be very successful,” Roffler says. “Obviously, these are big markets we’re in; they’re not for the faint of heart. But if you have a presence in a geography around a MLS team and you’re actively selling Continental tires – or you want to sell Continental tires – it makes perfect sense to get involved.
“To come in and kind of dovetail off of all the work we’ve done over the last 10 years within the soccer space, and all that branding of Continental to those MLS fans and enthusiasts, is a huge help when it comes to selling Continental tires to consumers, especially in these local markets.”