Q&A: Selling your competitive advantage

Boating Industry: 2011 is a new year. How is your marketing strategy for this year different than past years and why?

We will be focusing more on our Unique Selling Proposition at Pride — on-water locations. We have a unique advantage over most of our competitors, which is negated when we choose to chase customers by attending various shows and off-site events. We will be focusing the efforts on site at each location and leveraging the customers, their interactions and their experiences at each location. We are taking a more wholistic (as opposed to holistic) approach to their interactions with Pride. Everything from the flags at the roadside to the service follow-up care increases loyalty and spending dollars.

Boating Industry: Fill in the blank: In 2011, we are spending fewer marketing dollars on BLANK, more marketing dollars on BLANK and about the same on BLANK.

As far as media spend, much less on print (almost zero) and much more on Web advertising. Our largest single investment is in active Customer Retention Management.

Boating Industry: When you look back to 2010, what marketing initiative delivered the greatest return on investment for your company?

Rewarding existing customers for their loyalty. Sales programs and service programs were tailored, priced and marketed to existing customers first. This gave them the feel of being rewarded for loyalty and increased our reach as customers marketed for us at the grass roots level.

Boating Industry: When you think about how the industry markets the boating experience to consumers, where do you see the most room for improvement?

Generally, they don’t, so “room for improvement” is an understatement. Grab any ad or walk into any showroom in North America and try not to have a conversation about price with a sales person or service person. Doesn’t happen – you can’t stay off the topic of “how much” for more than five minutes. The general industry lifestyle marketing theme is to sell a parking lot full of fiberglass price tags. As an industry, we sell price tags and certainly not lifestyle. This will inevitably lower the tide for all ships and push the industry toward subsistence rather than thriving.

Unfortunately, the industry is so fractured and unprofitable currently that each player is only concerned with their own self interest, so marketing for the greater good is pushed to the back of the line. A strong, unbiased unifying industry voice needs to start the process of repairing the image of boating with our new potential customer base across North America. I am uncertain who this will be or which organization is strong enough to take on this task.

Boating Industry: What company’s marketing strategy has most influenced or inspired you (inside or outside the boating industry) and why?

Nike. They have built a business on lifestyle. They raise the profile of all sports that they become involved with and raise the bar for all business that associate with these sports. They do it (note the pun) through innovation, excellence and creativity. It is a parallel that we try to emulate within our business.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *