2012 Best in Class: Best marketing

BMC Boats
Longwood, Fla.

BMC Boats’ mission is to have its brand be instantly recognizable like marketing giants Coca Cola and Disney, and in order to do so, the dealership has taken a similar engaging approach to stand out from the crowd.

Longwood, Fla.-based BMC Boats is a one-location dealership that recently launched a multi-pronged campaign utilizing the Web, direct mail and events all to their full marketing potential.

But before it could market itself, BMC Boats needed to define what “it” is. Therefore, the dealership created the vision statement, “BMC Boats creating the best boating experience possible.”

“Through companywide meetings, training, and staff meetings, we are committed to purpose,” owner Paula Fulton says. “This is what sets us apart; in the end it will translate into greater sales and greater profit.”

And to get this message out, BMC Boats is most impressive online, starting with the marketing of its events, which it holds one of at least monthly.


BMC Boats creates a dedicated landing page on its website for each event. Traffic is then driven to the page through a Google AdWords campaign, social media channels, direct mail and an email campaign to its 22,000-plus customer database. Click activity on its website increases by 200 to 300 daily the week before each event is held.

Pre-event marketing also includes a direct mail campaign with various contests where winners do not know the prize they won until they attend the event. Although the value varies, everyone wins a prize.

To grow its database, BMC Boats purchased lists of active boat owners and focused on building its own by training staff to collect emails in all departments. For example, the dealership captures emails from 95 percent of its service customers in order to send them updates on their boat via email.

BMC Boats also made a push to grow its “Likes” on Facebook in the last year, during which the number has more than tripled to nearly 1,500. Its approach to this mission was simple: Create posts people enjoy reading, which it does multiple times daily.

“We determined the best way to increase traffic was to provide fun, interactive topics, fun questions and interesting pictures to talk about every day,” Fulton said.

To better market individual products, BMC Boats began securing dot-com sites that are manufacturer specific, like YamahaBoatDealer.com. It currently owns 10 such domains. Google ad campaigns will drive traffic to each site, which can either be detailed, manufacturer-specific websites or direct traffic to BMC Boats’ main website. By doing it in this fashion, Fulton says they are able to utilize manufacturer co-op money.

Fulton says they first introduced the idea with much success to Yamaha Jet Boats and Hurricane Boats, both of which looked to initiate the idea with other dealers in their network.

“Up to this point, co-op could not be used for this type of advertising,” Fulton says. “All of this is astounding in light of the fact that we have reduced our marketing budget considerably.”

BMC Boats increased its non-sales events, which include training classes, VIP events, as well as service and fishing clinics, to boost loyalty with its customers. It also grew its Cruise Club, which it markets by playing videos of past cruises at events and creating newsletters for it.

“These customers have become some of our most loyal advocates and raging fans,” Fulton says.

Companies like BMC Boats that put great effort into their marketing campaigns need to know if it is working. And this dealership goes to great lengths to ensure each undertaking pays off.

For its events, Fulton says if it does not bring back at least four or five times the initial investment, it will not be held again.

For example, BMC Boats’ pre-marketing for its anniversary event led to nearly the same amount of sales that its local convention center boat shows generate at about a quarter of the cost. Therefore, it has reduced its conventional boat show budget.

For Internet advertising, BMC Boats uses traditional methods like unique toll-free numbers and measuring leads from sites like Boats.com. It will also be able to measure the impact of a particular Google ad campaign by seeing the number of clicks to its exclusive dot-com sites and the leads generated from it.

BMC Boats certainly can justify the time it spends on its online campaigns, which generate nearly 60 percent of its leads each month. Examining its reengineered, online-focused marketing campaign as a whole, Fulton says sales opportunities have increased by at least 400 percent each month.

“By studying and learning the best way to optimize [online] marketing, we have developed and perfected the most efficient, most cost-effective, and best means of marketing today,” Fulton said.


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