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Protect the environment, and your bottom line

By By Tom Kaiser

Does the question “What is your business doing for the environment” give you the same kind of anxiety as “Did you remember to get the oil changed” or “Are these socks clean?” If so, you need to turn that attitude on its head and realize that doing good can be one of the cheapest forms of marketing available to your business.

Boating Industry editor-in-chief Jonathan Sweet recently interviewed David Rockefeller, Jr., who was recently voted the 2013 YachtWorld Hero among five finalists considered. Read the full interview here.

The YachtWorld Hero initiative recognizes individuals and their organizations that have “leveraged their love and respect for our oceans, rivers, lakes and streams into a higher consciousness among boaters and the general public.”

Rockefeller, a founder of Sailors for the Sea, was honored for his work finding meaningful ways to confront the challenges that have put marine life and coastal environments are risk. That has included the Clean Regatta certification program, Ocean Watch Essays, the “Around the Americas” voyage to highlight ocean conservation and other resources through SailorsfortheSea.org.

Sweet’s interview with Rockefeller was illuminating, but not just for its intended message. For all the marine industry has dealt with in the last decade, survival at the top of the list, many other topics have dominated the trade publication and conference airwaves. Things like minority and youth outreach, encroachment of government regulations, aging customers and social media marketing are all valid concerns, but environmental issues have surprisingly taken a back seat in an industry that urgently requires a healthy environment.

Just spit balling, here are some obvious-yet-significant reasons your marina, boatyard, dealership, aftermarket or original-equipment business should be talking about the environment with your staff and customers.

Community goodwill is an easy one, and might be a subtle salve to the feeling that the government is working against you. You never know who will speak at a city, county or watershed board meeting. Attitudes could shift if your business is explicitly associated with cleaning up the local waterways.

Building your brand through environmentalism isn’t just sticking your logo to a good cause. Network with your customers and have fun with your coworkers by organizing a clean-the-bay-type event. Many studies show customers — not just Millennials — are happy to spend more with a brand that does good things in the world. Building loyalty is certainly a watchword in the boating industry.

Nobody knows what all the benefits will be to demonstrating your company’s environmental activism — maintaining boating access, improving nearby fishing opportunities, increased land values, creative sales opportunities and undoubtedly more. Nowhere on this list is a negative beyond time and money, which could all be minimized.

If you’re not doing something about the environment in your area, the obvious question is “why not?”

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