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Profit-based marketing for the boating industry – Part One

By By Thaddeus B. Kubis

Editor’s note: Over the next several weeks, Boating Industry will be presenting a series of articles by marketing consultant Thaddeus Kubis about adapting to the changing realities of marketing to today’s consumer.

Where will your next “market” come from?

Are you targeting the big band, baby boomers, Gen X, the millennials or a future yet-to-be-named demographic segment? Are you attempting to cross-sell, up-sell, turn cold leads into hot sales, convert trade show hull kickers into signing on the dotted line?

It does not matter how you answer the question; the correct answer is simple, “Yes, all of the above and more!” To successfully attract nearly any demographic, you need to follow a few basic rules of marketing.

Marketing within any industry is no longer a single focused message of “buy.” Marketing is a complex integrated brand/messaged/lifestyle/multi-media/multi-channel/customized content/context/deployment process of developing a dialogue designed to extend the engagement process, based on the pre-defined needs of the specific demographics you are targeting.

The end game is a sale. Leads are a transitional way point needed to successfully complete the end game, which of course are sales and profits! Leads should be considered as a track or deducted position for our industry. They are plotted on a chart. That chart, when well drawn and detailed with an accurate legend, will provide you with insight, information, and knowledge of your prospect and a track to a sale, and more importantly to a relationship.

This change in the marketing, media, and consumer sentiment is something many other verticals—including troubled, mature verticals (like ours)—have not all have successfully responded to. It’s now the boating industry’s turn to move from being a mature, perhaps declining, market into a cash-cow, growth-based industry.

Adapting to the change:

How do you adapt and profit from this ever-changing marketplace.

By providing the correct mix of information, knowledge, and wisdom to those who drive the industry—from the marine architect, the builder/manufacturer, and dealer, to even the consumer. You need to be ready to change your business model, not based on a stressed, pressured decision, but on solid, foundational marketing/demographic trends and proven best practices.

Over the next severalarticles I will introduce the future of marine/boating marketing. I will present a plan of action that, when embraced and followed, will positively impact your sales and profit base.

Introducing: The Boating Industry’s emergency marketing program [Marketing + Engagement, Prospects, Integrate, Results, Buyers = Profits or M+EPIRB=P]

This multi-leveled, profit-based process includes the needed and desired key components of marketing today and will allow you to prepare for tomorrow. Offering components, tools, and marketing and sales strategies that are linked directly to your sales efforts and, yes, to the reporting of metrics of the sales process as well – profits.

Marketing involves not just a marketing plan, not just a communication effort, but a highly-targeted, customized (personalized) marketing, communications, sales-based program designed to fulfill your stated goals of making money. How? By establishing dialogue and encouraging engagement solidly positioned on relevant, big-data-based, integrated marketing.

This first step is composed of four elements, or what I call the “4 knows” 1) know your market, 2) know your customer/prospect, 3) know your media, and 4) know your numbers. Simply, this means that you need to not only understand your market and customer/prospect from your point of view, based on your business model/plan, but you also need to understand the market and customer/prospect from their POV. Knowing your media and the consumer value of the media you selected is critical in our fast-paced, changing world of marketing.

According to Harvey R. Levenson, director of the Graphic Communication Institute at Cal Poly State University, and based on his new book titled “What Does Media Mean to You,” “The market has, for the most part, gravitated to the least expensive delivery methods such as the Internet and WWW. While the reach may be the greatest using these media, the response rate may not be.”

The key words in this quote are response rates. Great reach is certainly not better.

Reach is only part of the marketing process. It is what happens at the beginning, during, and after you activate your plans, But reach in getting to your correct demographics is what truly matters. Reach is your outbound efforts to gain leads, but reach ends quickly without the need and without being correctly installed to turn reach into a sale.

Knowing your market and customer/prospect involves knowing not only the media they prefer but also which media they hold in high regard or which they view as an annoyance or as junk. You also need to know how they will use the media you selected as a delivery tool. Once you know the “demographics” of your market—the big and little data of your customer/prospect and their media or preferred vehicle of engagement—you can focus on what you know and what you can expect from your marketing efforts.

The “4 knows” are critical; incorporating the “knows” into a plan is where most fail. Many marketers get lost in the fog of strategic marketing and end up presenting a diffused, weak and non-centric marketing/communications effort. Or they present such a generic statement that no message, no brand discussion, no sales or action is understood nor requested.

Successful marketing also involves defining your goals and objectives. Are you branding or trolling for leads, working to convert leads to sales, up-selling, cross-selling, looking for new business or referrals, or focusing on other marketing objectives? Without a clear and defined understanding, you will soon sense the failure looming at the edge of the chart.

Marketing today is a complex tool, but a tool that when correctly harnessed can be your “Gulf Stream”—adding speed and power to your plan to achieve greater leads, sales, and profits.

Look for part two next week on “Engagement.”

Thaddeus Kubis can be reached at thad.kubis@tifmc.org or 917-597-1891.



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