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Thundercross Valley Dirt Bike Park: Riding towards a new look and feel

For dirt bike lovers, Thundercross Valley Dirt Bike is basically heaven. Started 20 years ago by James Fowlie and his family, it’s been a staple of the dirt bike community since then. The word is still growing, and the team wanted to keep that momentum going.

James decided a couple of years ago that the look and feel of the business, particularly the website, needed an update.  “The website was done about 10 years earlier as a favour, in exchange for a case of beer, so it was time to change the look,” shares Mandy Scott-Mackie, James’ partner, who now runs the Park alongside him. “The people who did that website originally had been recently sold to a national company who offered us packages and had become quite impersonal and formulaic. That was what prompted us to change providers.”

Wanting to ‘keep it in the family’, James and Mandy went out to Thundercross’ thousands of Facebook followers who ride at the bike park, asking for someone to help them rebrand and create a website to use as a modern marketing tool. Tonia from Crisp Graphics happened to be one of the park’s riders and Facebook followers.

Taking a personal approach

“We chose Tonia because we liked her approach,” explained Mandy. “She was very enthusiastic.  She brings a rider’s perspective to the project and was very proactive with suggestions.”

The process involved Tonia digging into how the park functions, what makes it different, and who their audience is. It was a joint project between James and Mandy “He knew how he wanted it to look and the message he wanted to get across, but he left the details and the execution to me. Tonia was inordinately patient with us – a manic Change Manager who wants to do a thousand things at the same time and a Kiwi bloke who isn’t interested in technology but whom she managed to keep engaged and interested.”

Following the initial meetings, Tonia put together some draft concepts for new branding – ideas which they describe as “spot on”. “She’d clearly listened, and we’d given enough info for her to offer us something that aligned with what James visualised,” shares Mandy.

Following the creation of the look and feel, Tonia carried the visual brand through to a modern, easy-to-use Rocketspark website.

Many of the photographs used on the now-live website are Tonia’s photos, taken while she was riding at the park. That personal touch is what Mandy and James most enjoyed. “It was the personal journey we shared together with Tonia that we valued and appreciated. After all, people do business with other people, not with anonymous businesses.”

Increase in traffic = increase in business

The new website coincided with a raft of other activities designed to bring new visitors to the park – Facebook, Instagram, YouTube Channel, AdWords… Traffic to the website has increased hugely, including international visitors.

Mandy and James have been hard at work ensuring that the new website is getting all eyes on it. “The website just didn’t have a presence before. Now, when we ask our riders how they found us, the vast majority say Google. If you Google dirt biking in NZ these days, we’re the first thing to come up, which is great.”

However, just getting eyes on a website isn’t enough if the website doesn’t do its job of converting visitors into customers. Luckily, the new Thundercross Valley website is doing just that.

“It seems we’ve got the formula right and the correct info because we are not only getting far more enquiries, they’ve already decided they want to ride at the park when they make that enquiry,” shares Mandy. “It’s given us the right look and it’s clearly appealing, but it’s also pushed us up the ranks of website visitors and conversions, so it’s obviously hit the mark.”

In fact, traffic has increased so much that Mandy says the business has “exploded” and they simply don’t have time to book, register and induct all the riders coming through. Now Tonia is helping the team choose and integrate the right electronic systems to speed up previously manual systems that took up so much of James and Mandy’s time. The team are even looking at converting their woolshed into a café to meet visitor demand for refreshments and cabins around the farm for rider accommodation while they visit.

“Year on year, we’ve seen a huge increase in the number of visitors to the park. It’s given us much longer hours to work and longer to-do lists but it’s a nice problem to have!”


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