Gearing up for the 2017 Boat Show Season

Posted on 2 CommentsPosted in boat show marketing, boat shows

It’s 2017—a brand new year—and for most areas it is winter, which means the phone isn’t ringing so much. Right now is the perfect time to adjust your business strategies: study what worked and didn’t work from the previous year, and come up with new plans.

Other than gaining sales in your general atmosphere, where else would be the next most important sales environment? Boat Shows.

As the industry news rolls out you know that the Boat Show season is starting up again. That means that your future customers are doing research to find that perfect boat. And soon, those same customers will have some tax refund money to spend.

Have you thought about how you’re planning on targeting your customers at the boat shows this year? 

Here are three categories you should really focus on: inventory, leads and show strategy.



  • Your floor plan is key. Take a look at your oldest boats and make a deal to sell them to make room for new inventory (and avoid paying extra fees on the longevity of the boat age). Have current 2017 models in stock for each boat line. If for some reason you don’t have the current models, have the boat literature and make the ordering process as painless as possible.
  • Show off your inventory. List the boats you have available to sell online in as many places as you can (company website, social media, online boating marketplaces, etc).
  • Year start promotions. Almost all engine/boat manufacturers start their promos for the first half the year, use that to your advantage. Customers will love the fact that their engine/boat will be covered an extra few years under warranty, and they will be up for spending the money if there’s something in it for them.


  • Start a boat show lead campaign. This should be your pre-boat show lead generator. Use a phrase or something with your company name and get it out there. Come up with a questionnaire for future customers and place it on your website, social media and send in a newsletter. The questions should pertain to if they are looking to purchase a boat this boat show—and that is who you need to focus on. Make appointments and schedule seatrials in advance.
  • Reach out to existing customers. Send out a general newsletter to all existing customers telling them about the upcoming boat show and to contact you using the boat show lead campaign email address. Use social media to let everyone know you’re going to be at the show, and what you plan on bringing.
  • Current leads. Even though you need to generate sales to keep money flowing in, provide some sort of incentive for current walk-ins to join you at the boat show. Free tickets to the show, free swag to wear during the show, something to help you out.


  • Visual merchandising is key. Be unique. Design your booth with the customer in mind—have a seating area where they will be comfortable enough to sit down and wait for their turn, or just relax by looking at your boat literature. Bring something personable to your area—show off awards or photos of staff members.
  • Offer free swag or company merchandise for sale. Give customers an extra reason to remember you. Exchange leads for free swag, or offer a percentage off (boat show promo) for company merchandise. If an item is cool enough, people will see it and come search for it. Plus, anything with your name on it is great marketing.
  • Bring personality into your brand. Make time to get to know your customers and their stories. Make a friend first, then make them into a customer. If they don’t make a purchase with you today, find a way for them to remember you enough to come back, and keep in contact with them. And, don’t forget to always check up on your previous customers—their value is the most important—especially when they tell others about the positive experience with your company, of which, may then lead to more sales.

Reinventing your 2017 Marketing Plan

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in general boating industry

(First posted on

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, and 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.

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in boat poetry, boat shows, personal experiences

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.

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.

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in boat shows

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