Let’s get digital!

By Adam Quandt

Go digital, improve your digital footprint, digital, digital, digital! That’s likely what you’ve been hearing for years now from
marketing specialists, colleagues around the industry and the world at large.

While an emphasis on embracing the digital landscape has been increasingly important for dealerships each year, the events of the ongoing pandemic have kicked a need for digital resources into overdrive.

As many of you have probably already realized, how you present your dealership digitally right now, is crucial to getting in front of and connecting with both potential and current customers.

With most large-scale, in-person events cancelled or postponed, strong dealerships are embracing the digital landscape more now than ever before and using digital tools to connect with customers and make services better at an ever increasing rate.

In Minnesota, a coalition of dealers — including 2020’s No. 17, River Valley Marine — launched an online boat show of their own, in lieu of the cancelled in-person Minneapolis Boat Show.

“Many customers may not even know that the show was cancelled and just go on not even thinking about it,” River Valley president and CEO John Wooden said. “By using digital resources including this new online show, we ensure that we still stay in current and potential customers’ spotlight.”

The digital landscape expands well beyond just online boat shows. Online, you can create a whole brand and personality
for your dealership through your website, social media platforms and beyond.

Creating an online brand identity was a key focus for 2020 Top 100 dealer Harborside Marina & Yacht Sales.

“Creating and managing a ‘brand identity’ for Harborside through social media, email, online advertising and other unique low-cost forms of marketing has been memorable and fun,” marketing manager Abigail Benchimol said. “By shifting our marketing efforts to primarily digital, we have seen a huge increase in both sales and service leads, and overall ROI.”

There’s no one “right way” to embrace the digital landscape and it will likely take some trial and error, especially if you haven’t already moved into using digital resources much. However, now is the time to branch out and take advantage of the many resources and strategies available to you and your dealership.

Gearing up for the 2021 Top 100

I know we at Boating Industry are still full of excitement from the 2020 Top 100, but we’re also busy gearing up for the 2021 Top 100 program and brainstorming new ways to enhance the program and carry it into the future.

That being said, keep an eye out on all of the Boating Industry channels, as the applications for the 2021 Top 100 will be live very soon for you to begin working on them. Similar to 2020, the 2021 program will have two applications: the full application for those interested in going after Dealer of the Year, Top 20 and Best in Class honors, and the simple application for those simply interested in being considered for the Top 100.

As always, the Boating Industry team and myself are available to answer any questions and help in any way we can, so don’t be strangers, reach out at any time.

Adam Quandt is the director of the Boating Industry Top 100 program and the managing editor of Boating Industry magazine.

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