Adventures in Mobile Marketing

Social Marketing: Bike Shop

I love my local bike shop. I’m at the foot of the “twisty street” in San Francisco, Lombard, so we get lots of tourists, and there are lots of bike rental places, because it is a great starting point for several rides across the Golden Gate Bridge, around the city, or around the waterfront. The owner of this bike shop started it out of his basement, helping his friends repair bikes. The real biking shop district is two miles south, in a completely different neighborhood. Can a small bike repair & reseller shop survive outside of that district, with high rents of a touristy neighborhood? I love this place so I’d like it to stay- and therefore have been stopping by lately brainstorming marketing ideas.

Who Is Your Ideal Customer?
First, we talked about the ideal customer. For him, I’d focus on the “weekend warriors” and not the die-hard cyclists, which can be tough for him because he’s a die hard cyclist, bike collector, and those are his friends. But that’s not the money, and the biking community in SF is very political, so I’d steer away from polarizing personalities in the groups. Weekend Warriors (WW) are single people who work during the day but need to escape on the weekend. Who love to bike- but haven’t fixed their bike, bought one, have a plan on where to bike, etc. The towering apartment buildings surrounding his cute Victorian are full of these Weekend Warriors. Getting location and services information to them is the number one priority. He came to this conclusion too and started stocking inexpensive touring bikes ideal for tooling around the city. He’s already noticed a bump in sales.

These apartment buildings have security and won’t let you paper them frequently, so instead, do a few events to draw attention to the location. When they’re nearby, offer services that line up with their goals. Get them to remember the name and location, so when the opportunity arises, his shop is nearby and available.

F2F Events
Friday afternoon free beer & appetizers in the shop- an “open house” with notification to either patrons in the building that you’ve cultivated, or by putting a flier in the nearby laundromat, nearby bars, etc. Find the places where these folks hang out. At the shop, either pass out the little plastic tire opener that you use to repair flats with your location & name, or a map of nearby getaways, with time estimates, that are easy to do but beautiful, and tailored to the out of shape WW (ha). Also great: a xeroxed sheet showing “safe roads” in San Francisco for WW’ers. Make sure everyone who comes by walks away with the tool lever or flier in their hand – get it on the fridge! (Magnet is a good idea too)

Setup a clipboard on the counter to get email addresses – and maintain a weekly newsletter of bike riding tips and quick repairs. Refer to it during sales and other chats in the store.

Setup a weekly ride – sometime afterwork would be best. Just a half an hour or so. Make sure to wear a t-shirt or jersey with branding. Cycle through the neighborhood either coming or going to improve visibility in the target area. Have some on hand if other cyclists get cold (they will). This will be amazing visibility.

The Social Network Bit: Hash Ride
This is a more elaborate plan, but I think could get a lot of customers in one fail swoop; setup a neighborhood hash ride (credit to my sister Jenny for this idea). Our neighbhorhood, North Beach, an Italian & a tightknit, packed restaurant district. Pick a few restaurants that are local favorites (using Yelp, or word of mouth) and organize beforehand to have little appetizers setup near the doorway. Setup a route of biking to each restaurant- keep it a secret from the attendees. At each restaurant, have a little table sign pointing to the next restaurant. In this way, folks can be spread out but on the same route, and meet at the same end-up point. The combination of uniqueness of the event, co-branding with restaurants, and wearing the jerseys (it always gets cold in SF), along with free food- will increase visibility for the store and its personality, which is a fun, friendly, local resource for the neighborhood. Make sure to get the email addresses of participants so they can find out about the next fun/weird event- and make sure to maintain the newsletter!

Maintaining an Online Presence
Online networking: the WW will want to plan their weekend while at work, so make sure to use online review systems, and online social tools. Have someone- like me- sign onto these systems and promote the events via message boards on Yelp, Upcoming, etc. It’s the social organizer tools that will bring people out of the condo towers.

Ideally, setup a twitter account and follow some attendees ahead of time- get a few of the cyclists to twitter along the way, employees or friends-of-the-store (me). This can be a great promotional tool for the next Hash ride. Take photos during the ride and post to various social networks/flickr streams for promotional use.

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Written on Thursday, 05. June 2008 at 12:15 In the category Basics, campaigns, design, metrics, social networks, strategy. Follow the comments via RSS here: RSS-Feed. Read the Comments. Trackbacks- Trackback on this post. Share on FriendFeed

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  1. Your devotion to this bike shop is amazing. I also like the ideas that you’re coming up with. I’ve been thinking a lot about this kind of stuff for my new business. This is definitely food for thought!

    Comment: Peter Chee – 11. June 2008 @ 12:16 am

  2. Some really great ideas here Anna, why not post the name/url of the bike shop?

    Comment: Janet – 20. June 2008 @ 4:13 pm

  3. Great ideas! Just bought Mudslingers bike and skate shop in Plano IL. looking at ideas for marketing. When spring hits, I want to be ready. Plano is not nearly as large as San Fransisco but it would be great to bring all the small communities together. Thanks for the ideas!

    Comment: Michelle – 09. January 2009 @ 11:24 am

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