From the Desk of Lynn Woolf: June 18, 2013 Watch Lynn's Editorial Blog for June 18 here:

Earlier this spring, I shared thoughts about a new customer segment called urban ruralists. Urban ruralists are those people who live in the city and grow their own food. I think we need to take that segment one step further, based on what I'm seeing in my own community.

We live outside a city of about 2,000 people. It's a farming community, flanked by an agriculture cooperative on one end and an electric cooperative on the other. It's not unusual to see tractors driving down Main Street. What is unusual is that I'm seeing UTVs driving down Main Street. The vehicles are in front of the post office, at the grocery store and parked by the sports fields. I saw one hauling bags of mulch around a home. The local hardware store even had a used one for sale in its driveway. These UTVs are not necessarily being driven by farmers or rural lifestylers, but by those who live in town.

UTVS and other equipment are redefining the term rural lifestyler. It's beyond acres and animals, but about tools and image. It seems similar to what occurred with pick-up trucks. It wasn't that long ago that pick-ups were for farmers and contractors. Now, how many pick-ups do you see that never touch a dirt road - or even haul anything?

This is great news for dealers. Manufacturers are providing the products, such as UTVs and subcompact tractors, as well as financing incentives. More and more people, regardless of where they live, are buying into the culture. Just look at the popularity of Dodge's "Year of the Farmer" campaign and the "Duck Dynasty" marketing empire.

The strategy is to make sure you're keeping up. Consider a twist in how you sell and market through special events, displays, website content and advertising materials. Horsepower, features, comfort and ease of use are still strong selling points, but what about simply sharing ideas for what the equipment can do and how fun it is to use? These new customers may already want the machines. If you can show they need them, too, you've got a sale.

Ag and rural customers are the bread and butter of most dealerships, but more and more segments are opening up. Seize the possibilities.

Lynn Woolf,
Managing Editor
Rural Lifestyle Dealer