Stoke the fires of summer

Hey, it’s cold out. Did you hear? It’s really cold. In fact, it’s really cold almost everywhere. This is a currently a popular topic as the coldest air mass in decades blasts down from the North Pole. Just beyond the Winter Solstice, most of North America is as far away from boating as it gets.

Here in Minneapolis, we’re a good 4-5 months away from getting on the water. Still, January is when people submit their vacation requests, daydream about the places they’ll go and start making long-range plans for the coming year. Sure, boating is nowhere to be found in Minnesota, but that doesn’t mean you can take a break from communicating with your customers. They’re just as ready for summer as you are.

As a simple exercise, I visited the Facebook pages of a few boat dealers and marinas to see what they’re saying to their customers at this bottom-out time of the season. It’s like that saying about showing your true stripes during the toughest of times.

Legendary Marine, the Boating Industry Top 100 Dealer of the Year on Florida’s Gulf Coast, posted a few Happy New Year pics and a recent photo showing a pile of fresh-caught fish. Not bad. I have a hard time getting inside the minds of Floridians in winter. What does a person do all that time not spent fighting for survival?

Let’s head back up north to Massachusetts and Russo Marine. Here we see a beautiful image of Boston’s New Years celebration and some stale Christmas greetings. I’ve seen better. Boston’s page currently groans “much colder than yesterday” — and maybe they’re still shoveling out from all that snow.

Midwesterners are legendary for complaining during cold spells, even though this is what we’re built for. Let’s cruise over to Iowa to see what masters-of-fun Parks Marina is doing. After the obligatory holiday greetings —quite charming, by the way — there’s an announcement that they’re currently closed accompanied by an invitation to come ice-skating, ice fishing, eat pancakes or rent snowmobiles. Nice!


Stoke the fires image_WayzataMoving further north, to my home zone, Wayzata Marine hasn’t had anything to say aside from a post-Christmas article about a boat made of chocolate. They’ve also posted a hilarious photo showing a rabbit-sloth looking forlorn at its work computer. The tagline: “Bored at work? Take a lunch break at Wayzata Marine and see some new arrivals!” There are also a few apocalyptic images of snowed-in boats from earlier in the season reminding people to winterize. Fear and fun — I like this place. Well done, Wayzata Marine.

Heading east, we look at Vermont’s Woodard Marine. Here the discussion is hand-knit Christmas gifts, the season’s first snowmobile trip, hanging out with kiddos at a children’s museum, a phone screen shot showing a crisp -19 and lots of dogs-at-home shots. No boats in sight, but they’re still having fun and engaging with their audience.

What’s the lesson? The coldest, most hopeless among us are getting stir-crazy and fantasizing about the future. This is an opportunity for your business to have fun with the unpleasant present, and help keep your homebound customers entertained and engaged.

In this winter where everyone is feeling the chill, appeal to their senses and escapism by teasing summertime fun and keeping your customers entertained whatever it takes. Remember, it only feels like it lasts forever.


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