You’ve done it! You’ve created your own bike rental business and you’d managed to carve out a small portion of this competitive market for yourself. But if you possess an entrepreneurial spirit then you simply can’t stop here; instead, you look towards growing your brand, to the challenges and rewards that come with growing any business. A business is nothing without customers. This is a fact any business owner knows, and it’s why there are more advertising and marketing companies than clouds in the sky. While many of these marketing and advertising agencies are worth investing in, we know that a lot of smaller bike rental companies can’t afford monthly fees that agencies charge, so we’ve created this introduction to advertising a bike rental business to help as many businesses as possible reach their full potential. If you haven’t started your bike rental business, however, check out our guide to starting a bike rental business, then come back here later.
It Starts With your Brand
We won’t spend too long on this point as it’s something many business owners understand, but it still bears mentioning. Your brand needs to be memorable, otherwise any marketing and advertising you carry out — no matter how successful — will simply expose a forgettable brand to your desired audience. ‘Brand’ can get very complex when you dig into the theory behind it, but that topic is for a different blog. For today, simply think of a brand as your bike rental business’s appearance and personality. Your brand is your logo, your slogan, the colors of your website, and the general energy you project. Take a long, hard look at your business’s brand and ask if anything is forgettable. Better yet, ask your most brutally honest friend to take a look for you. You can pay exorbitant amounts of money for branding experts to workshop your brand, but you may like to keep this budget for advertising instead.
The Golden Rule in Advertising: Solve your customers’ problem
Before we get into specific actions you can take, it’s important to recognize the golden rule of advertising: to effectively grab your desired customer’s perspective, you must always solve a problem for them. Other people may have different golden rules, but this is ours. Disregarding the mega brands (Coke, Nike, etc), consider the most effective ads and messaging you’ve ever witnessed. We’re betting they offered to solve a problem for you. In bike rentals, the problem is usually related to a lack of convenience as people want access to the bikes easily and quickly. However, for hardcore cycling enthusiasts, the problem with most bike rental companies is that they don’t offer the lightest, most high-tech bikes. If you offer the most cutting-edge, high-end bikes and advertise this to cycling enthusiasts, then you are showing them how you have solved their problem. If you’re not sure whose problem you’re solving, consider who your target audience is, and then work out how to solve their problem. If ‘problem’ doesn’t make sense to you, consider how you are ‘meeting the needs’ of your target audience. Only with the answer to this question can you begin to market and advertise your business effectively.
Don’t Ignore Your Website
Even if you feel most of your customers find your store simply by walking past it, do not ignore your website. Everyone carries smart phones in their pockets and even if people find a store in person, it’s common for them to quickly google it to work out whether it’s any good. At the bare minimum, your website is a place where you can make a good impression on customers who find your store in the real world; at the very best, your website is the most incredible digital store imaginable that earns you money 24/7, taking bookings even when you’re in bed at night. With the right website, you can also grab far more customers than the best physical locations, and this leads us neatly to our next point…
Using SEO to Boost Your Bike Rental Website
Anyone with a website and a company email address has been inundated with frustrating SEO sales pitches. So you would be forgiven for thinking the whole thing is a scam. However, consider how much search engines facilitate people’s shopping and vacation-planning behavior and you’ll start to get an idea of how important search engine optimization (SEO) can be. If you rank on the first page of Google for various important keywords and phrases, you will have access to more truly interested customers than any physical store ever could. There are a lot of things to consider with SEO, but that’s not what this guide is about, so here are the basics:
– Search engines can only understand your relevance and worth as a business by reading your content. This is why every serious business needs to write regular blogs, news articles, and guides to give search engines plenty of high-quality content to judge them by. Keep in mind that while you might only want Google to bring users to product pages, it reads your entire website!
– Make sure each page has an obvious purpose and that it’s labeled clearly. This is the essence of content optimization as you are, in effect, making a page’s purpose/identity as clear and unambiguous as possible. Try to create pages that match up with users’ searches and avoid making two pages that sell pretty much the same thing, as this way Google may struggle to say which page is more relevant for a user’s search query.
– Keywords are important, but it needn’t be a complicated exercise to discover some of the most appropriate keywords for your product range. Expert SEO companies can find all of the nuanced searches your ideal customers are making, but with a little practice on Google Keyword Planner, you will be able to find the main words people are using to describe your products.
– Just make sure to choose between 1–3 keywords per page and to avoid stuffing these keywords in unnatural places. Include your primary keyword on the page’s title tag and its H1, then scatter the other keywords throughout the page’s body of content. If you do this right, you will have access to far more customers than you perhaps ever imagined.
Google Ads for Bike Rental Companies
Following SEO, Google Ads can be incredibly useful for bike rental companies. Firstly, Google Ads are considerably stronger and cheaper when the words you’re trying to advertise a page for are optimized on the page. This means that prior SEO work can make Google Ads much much cheaper. While SEO takes months to take effect, Google Ads are instantaneous. If you’re looking for a way to grab customers as soon as possible — perhaps for a time-sensitive deal or product, then Google Ads is almost certainly the right platform. For a longer, slower advertisement approach, social media is a must…
Social Media Marketing and Advertising for Bike Rental Companies
Social media can be a very powerful tool, whether you’re a cycling-focussed pure bike rental company or a bike tour company selling sightseeing experiences. Gone are the days where marketers tell us that social media is the most important activity for any business to carry out effectively. Social media can be powerful, but it needs to be a constant effort that is easy for you to carry out. Do not try to have a solid presence on every single social media platform as this isn’t sustainable. Instead, look for the platform where most of your target market spend time and put your time and effort into this instead. It’s better to do one thing well than many things poorly.
Marketing to Previous Customers
We won’t go into too much detail here, but we’d like to at least cover the idea of targeting previous customers. Consider it this way: these are people who paid to rent your bicycles or come on your tours. They have proven they value your product in the past and may be convinced to come again. The idea of repeat custom is obvious for supermarkets, but it’s a little trickier for anyone working in the tours and activities industry. It’s important to make the most out of your list of previous customers; don’t spam them with special offers, but instead offer them a new or different experience, perhaps with a small returning-customer discount. Rentrax bike rental software has a marketing feature built in to allow you to send offers to previous customers either by SMS or email. It can be very effective if used intelligently and sparingly.
Signage for Bike Rental Companies
Lastly, let’s talk about signage for bike rental companies. The first thing worth saying is that the effectiveness of physical signs and advertisements is heavily reliant on the local area and a whole range of other factors. It can be very effective if your prime customer base is local and if the cost of exposure is low. But it can also be a waste of money if done incorrectly. Signage has its place, but digital really is a cheaper and easier way to get the word out. If you’re sure your business could benefit from a physical ad, then you should absolutely go for it. If you aren’t sure, spend any marketing budget on digital avenues for now, as the money is seldom wasted.
There is, of course, so much more to talk about on this subject. However, this is probably large enough for this guide. We will come back to this topic and write further guides, so keep a watchful eye on our blog. If you’re interested in what we have to say and you’d like to learn more about our software, please feel free to get in touch or book a free software demo.