Social Media or Car Shows—Where More SEMA Members Market

Despite the tough economy taking the toll on specialty-equipment sales this year, SEMA members are still investing their profits in marketing—just in different ways. When companies were asked in a recent survey how they invest their marketing dollars, the no. 1 avenue was car shows, giving credence to the value of one-to-one contact with their customers.

Advertising Types for Promotion
Car shows remain the most widely used form of connecting with automotive enthusiasts.

SEMA members were surveyed in early April of this year and asked about business trends and how they deal with the ever-changing marketplace. The number of respondents totaled 523 manufacturers, distributors, jobbers and retailers of performance parts and accessories. Although these companies continue to use traditional forms of marketing to push their products, newer digital media promotion is growing in popularity.

Automotive enthusiast forums, online retailer websites and automotive magazine websites each experienced a slight nudge in usage among specialty-equipment companies this year compared to last year. Also worth mentioning is the fact that nearly a quarter said that they use social-networking sites to advertise, a promotional tool gaining popularity among industry professionals.

Social media marketing is a relatively new phenomenon but is growing in popularity as significantly more consumers have flocked to these sites over the years. Facebook recently announced that it has more than 200 million users, for example, according to its website. A survey of senior marketing executives conducted by eMarketer earlier this year showed that 77% plan to increase spending for social media marketing in 2009, and SEMA members have already taken advantage of this trend.

“Turbonetics has always tried to be aggressive in emerging technologies and various forms of marketing,” notes Tyler Tanaka, marketing brand manager of Turbonetics. “It seems that social media networks have been lying in wait for businesses to realize their branding potential and are now catching on as excellent low-cost alternatives to traditional advertising,” he commented.

Adding this promotional outlet to one’s marketing campaign does not require significant time investment either, according to Tanaka. “We invest a minimum of 30 minutes per day. It can be answering messages, posting pics/videos or placing links to other cool and fun information. Everything is digitally tied together to catch anyone who visits any of our sites and exposes them to as much information and branding as possible,” notes Tanaka.

Overall, SEMA members surveyed said they invest, on average, 10% of their total sales in marketing. Whether using their scarce marketing dollars on tried-and-true forms of marketing, such as cars shows and magazines, or investing time and money in social media marketing, those companies that maintain a presence in their customer's eyes are sure to benefit when the economy grows again. — SEMA Research & Information Center