Reinventing your 2017 Marketing Plan

(First posted on MarineMarketingTools.com)

It’s almost the end of December, the holidays will be here and gone before we know it, and what we’ll be left with is a brand new year which means a brand new start. Out with the old, and in with the new.

A new president will be taking the helm in 2017—and, just like every election year—it brings an unsurety of how things are going to go overall in our country. The biggest question for the marine industry is what kind of an impact will President-elect Trump make both locally and globally?

It is now what you can consider the quiet time in our industry, and that’s when we should rethink our marketing strategies. Find out what worked, what didn’t, and really improve on that—keeping in mind the concerns addressed throughout the year. Throughout this year, BoatingIndustry.com and TradeOnlyToday.com had a lot of great articles of what we should be focusing on for the future of our industry.

Here are some ideas to help out with your 2017 marketing plan:

  • Take a look at Boating Industry’s Top 100 dealers. Study the top 10 companies and the best in class, see what they’re doing that makes them successful, and take notes.
  • Make sure your company has a mission statement–and revisit it every year. If you have one, are you doing everything that your mission statement says?
  • At boat shows: find a way to let your old and new customers have an experience. Don’t just sell to them. Find out their story of boating, become personable–then sell.
  • Salespeople: when you sell a boat, do not let that be the last time you talk to them. Contact them regularly to ask about how everything is going in their life, and then, find your way to asking if everything is okay with their new boat. If there are problems, find out immediately, and correct them.
  • During the year have a few events that would attract families, especially kids and teens because they are our future. Hook them from the beginning, so they’ll become interested in boating.
  • Reach out to boat rental companies and clubs to see if you can have an event together for marketing purposes, and introduce non-boaters/non-owners to this boating world.
  • Do a little research who your core customers are in your area and check out the demographics. Are your customers mostly baby boomers, gen Xers, or millennials? People who fish or just go out on the boat to have fun? That’ll help out a bit with making sure your dealership targets the right people. If you target to the wrong people, you will miss your mark.
  • Embrace new technology and ways of doing things.
  • And last, but not least, be innovative.

Boat Literature (poetry) and a speech about passion.

Boat Literature 
© 2013 Karen Maeby

Summer after summer,
I always anticipate this weekend class!
I have my pen and paper ready
for four full days of training for the marine life.

Boating, fishing, safety: all kinds of training and
endless chats about motors and the specs on boats.
Hours and hours of learning –
I wouldn’t have it any other way, though.

Any day of every day is a good day
for reading and acknowledging literature
that ties little philosophical signs
to life stories of old and new.

BOAT LITERATURE
it’s what’s for breakfast, lunch and dinner
for an entire weekend of happiness
for this soul who loves the deep blue sea.

This is the poem that I wrote shortly after attending my first few boat shows. I was new to the game of going and so eager to learn about this new passion of mine. Four years later, as I find myself slipping away from this feeling, I’ve realized what I’ve lacked the last few ones. It’s passion. Where do I find it again? I need to dig deep into my soul and ignite that feeling once again.

I’ve become so caught up in the groove of life–work, the things I need to do to get by, starting new businesses in my spare time, reoccurring depression, living/having a personal life, getting involved in so many new activities, and the like–that my brain has not mentally rested or been revived the last couple of shows. It’s super disappointing for me, because this is my escape–I go in totally overwhelmed and feeling as if I’ve lost a battle, and come home feeling refreshed and ready to go.

But–not lately.

I keep forgetting to breathe. I keep forgetting that I’m not doing this just to be doing this. I’m doing it because I have a passion and a goal that I’m trying to work towards. I may not be at that goal–or not for a while–but I’m on the road. I have been given some really good opportunities because of my hard work and it is up to me to continue, not give up, and not screw this up for myself. I can’t let go of that fire that once held me.

I need to be an example for those younger than me. I need to share with them the joy of working hard and towards a goal (or otherwise, making their dream a huge success), having fun and making a difference in the meantime. I personally and professionally need to make a difference in this industry. I have a lot of ideas but nothing happens without action, and every single day, I am working on that. I want to get my hands dirty, solve problems, and help out. I want to carve paths for those younger than me. I want them to have a similar passion.

I want them to eventually have a story to share just like I do. 

-Karen Maeby the Boat Show Girl <3

A year of boat shows 2016 by Boat Show Girl.

The first boat show I attended of 2016 was the Miami International Show. This was the very first show four years ago that I attended, but it was in the old location. I loved the new location of Virginia Key. Beautiful displays and aisle space is what this show brought. My experience came in a different light as I met someone that was supposed to help with my future, but alas, it is the end of the year and nothing ever happened with it….despite my never giving up for many months and being persistent. It just… didn’t work out. Even though it’s really disappointing, maybe it wasn’t supposed to. Anyhow, it was a good trip and I will never drive 4 hours, walk all day long, and drive 4 hours back home ever again. Next time, I will make a vacation out if it.

The second boat show I attended was the Palm Beach International Show. This was the last show of Show Management that I needed to attend to have attended them all (in Florida). Palm Beach was really important for me because for the first time I was acknowledged as media by Show Management. YAY! I also met an industry friend from Canada at this show, checked into World of Boating while there, walked around town and stayed within a few miles of the place overnight. It was a really lovely experience, one of my favorites.

The third show and last show before my break was Suncoast in Sarasota. Even though I went to this last year (I think I did? Maybe the year before?) It was a different experience as well. I toured my first boat in a while.

Fourth show was Bradenton Boat Show during my supposed-to-be break. I went there because my company had a booth there, and I’m glad I went. I hadn’t attended this show last year but the year before. It had grown and by a lot. It was a good time seeing the sales department, of whom I rarely get to see.

Tampa Boat Show was the fifth show this year. I didn’t do much BoatShowGirl-ing because I was working as a normal employee at Thunder handing out free cups for leads. I didn’t even get to walk around this show much at all, let alone take photos, or really have any recollection of boats or vendors. I did, however, make note that this year vs last year was a totally different experience even though I did the same thing. It was more comfortable this year asking people and talking to them. I realized I could do that more than just once a year.

IBEX was six, even though it’s not exactly a boat show per se, it’s industry only. It was an okay time, it was different than two years ago, being where I was at this year vs last year.

Seven was Fort Myers Boat Show which brought a magical location.

and the final number eight…. St Pete Boat Show.

Every single show brought something new: location, people, the atmosphere, freebies, people I talked to and whatnot. I enjoyed myself to the best that I could in the time I had. I’ve made some big steps, and steps back, due to life… but I’m working on it. I can’t wait to see what happens next year when the shows start up again (I’m very unclear on what my schedule will be).

Until next time,

Karen Maeby ~ Boat Show Girl

St Pete Boat Show 2016

Today I went to the St Pete Boat Show. Lots and lots of people out and about.  The red bows and poinsettias were reminders that Christmas is right around the corner, even though it is December and it’s still pretty warm out.

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Icon Aircraft just opened up in Tampa and they decided to greet everyone at the entrance.

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Before even getting into the show, I had to stop at the first food stand to get a hotdog and Coke. I arrived at the show later than I normally like to and hunger was about to hit, so I did that, then quickly walked around the side and inside the tents.

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Probably my favorite boat of the day. Look at this Canyon Bay beauty:

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At every show, when I’m walking the docks, I always look for fun names of the boats. This is definitely a fun boat name. I’m sure a lot us could relate, eh?

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I like the way this photo turned out. Also doesn’t hurt I love the font type.

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The guys from World of Boating dialed me in and I got to report LIVE from the show. It was awesome.

Overall, the show seemed larger than it did from two years ago (I didn’t go last year). 50% sailboats and 50% powerboats, accessories included in that.

There were mixtures of accessory vendors: a lot of cleaning supplies, some jewelry, unique gifts, a lot of the marinas around here.

I saw my company’s sister company.

I saw (but didn’t exactly meet, only said hi) Bob Bitchin from Cruiser’s Outpost. (Fan girl moment.)

At the entrance, they had a few authors with their books set up outside. I really like that.

Going from the Fort Myers Boat Show to this show in a two week span… yep, both were definitely different experiences and shows.

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So…… this is it. This wraps up Boat Show Girl’s last boat show for the year. It’s been a long one (and lots of shows), but I’ll be looking forward to attending as many as I can next year in a different light. Stay tuned as I do a 2016 boat show wrap up. 🙂