Is it time to start clearing the decks?


By Bob McCann, Director of Education, ARI
August 9, 2013
Filed under Guest Blog

Summer events and promotions are in full swing, and even though we’re quickly closing in on the “7th inning stretch” there’s still time to sell more boats. There are plenty of enthusiasts out there who are still in the market for their first or new boat – and they’re savvy buyers.  Now is the time to take advantage of the tremendous sales opportunity online marketing has to offer.

Every year at this time, the boat bargain hunters begin to surface. These buyers know that the boating season is coming to an end (hard to believe, it seems like it just got started) and they are looking for a great deal. At the same time, you may want to clear the deck of this year’s inventory to make room for new models and, more importantly, avoid floor plan expenses.  Here’s a few cost-effective ways you can reach out to these end-of-season buyers. Done right, you can make this time of the year a win-win for you and buyers.

Google AdWords

Pay-per-click advertising through Google is a great way to capture the attention of end-of-the-year boating enthusiasts and drive immediate traffic to your dealership. Making a simple change to your AdWord buying strategy can mean the difference between buyers finding your dealership rather than your competitor’s. Add keywords like “inventory reduction”, “closeout pricing”, “end of year pricing” — the very words that buyers are typing in when they go online in search of their new boat at a bargain price.  And, don’t forget about current boat owners. Be sure to include keywords like “winterization” and “storage”. Don’t stop there. Make sure to include links on your search results ad that go directly to the appropriate page on your website and prominently display this same messaging on your home page.

Email marketing

Now is the perfect time to target customers and prospects in your lead management system that are still looking for their dream boat.  Send them an email with a tailored marketing message that captures their interest and motivates them to visit your dealership for great buys on your current inventory — new and used. Make sure to use buzzwords in the subject line and text of your email that buyers will react to — “Year-end Savings” and “Priced to Sell”. And, don’t forget about including links in your email that go directly to images or videos to reel buyers in. As a way to reduce congestion during the annual winterization bottleneck, send current boat owners and email to entice them to take advantage of an early-bird winterization/storage offer.

Facebook campaigns

Like most marine dealers today, you probably have a Facebook page that is helping you grow your fan base. That’s a great place to start reaching out to your raving fans and have some fun with posts and images about the value of winterization; current inventory and upcoming special year-end events. You can take that a step further by running a Facebook ad campaign designed to reach prospects in your area. Facebook allows you to target users based on zip code, city name, gender, interests and more. This type of campaign can help you create additional buzz and exposure for your dealership, expand that fan base and generate click-throughs to your website. It’s important to remember, however, that Facebook is a social networking platform and “Likes” don’t necessarily translate into dollars. 

Today’s prospects and customers are busier than ever. They are overwhelmed by non-stop “buy me” messages. So, it’s no surprise that they tune out, skip or delete many of the messages that come their way. Regardless of how you reach out – AdWords, emails or Facebook — your message must approach consumers on their terms, with relevant, helpful information. And, whenever possible, entertain and surprise them.


Bob McCann is ARI’s Director of Education. ARI creates award-winning software solutions that help equipment manufacturers, distributors and dealers Sell More Stuff!™ – online and in-store. ARI removes the complexity of selling and servicing new and used inventory, parts, garments, and accessories for customers in automotive tire and wheel, powersports, outdoor power equipment, marine, RV and white goods industries. More than 22,000 equipment dealers, 195 distributors and 140 manufacturers worldwide leverage our website and eCatalog platforms to Sell More Stuff!™.

Contact: 877-806-2150


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