2014 Best Boat Show Strategy:
West Palm Beach, Fla.
The staff at Marine Connection is never surprised by a boat show. The staff is always plotting their next show strategy, focused on recreating their own showroom on the show floor weeks before any show.
For Jani Gyllenberg and the team, a boat show isn’t just another sales opportunity; it’s a critical marketing function.
“Our team considers boat shows, by far, to be our most important marketing tool for new boats,” said Gyllenberg. “In 2013, boat shows were 45 percent of our total marketing expenses. As such, they are taken very seriously.”
Weeks before the show, the Marine Connection team begins work to create their unique booth setup that typically consists of 36 boats.
“Show preparation begins eight weeks prior to opening day. Layouts, inventory allocation and personnel assignments are all locked down,” said Gyllenberg.
Capitalizing on their technical prowess and love of analytics, the management team plans their trips down to every detail, and no show is exactly the same.
“Using a show layout program developed in-house (which is to-scale, down to the inch), and the data gathered from past show successes, a display inventory, boat inventory and floor layout is tailored to the individual show,” said Gyllenberg.
And their trademarked overhead boat displays, manikins in action and smart layouts are just the beginning. Show-specific signage and display materials are created at the dealership and the sales staff hones their messaging.
“One week prior to the show date, targeted sales training takes place, display materials are cleaned and loaded, and the display boats are processed through a pre-show quality examination,” said Gyllenberg. “This examination and preparation can border on the obsessive.”
Marine Connection received special recognition in the Top 100 in 2013 for its brilliant use of video on the sales floor. Those same displays are always running at its seven major shows a year. The company was also recognized as a finalist in the 2013 MDCE Best Ideas competition for its boat show display signs.
“With us and our manufacturers having invested tens of thousands of dollars in producing videos on boats, we feel it is only natural to showcase these videos — along with specifications and pricing — at the point of sale,” said Gyllenberg.
He said that while the dealership gets plenty of foot traffic, focusing on boat shows is an obvious tactic to get the business to thousands of people; which is why Marine Connection increased the boat show budget in 2013.
“At shows, on average, we get to expose our brand and products to thousands of people of all walks of life,” said Gyllenberg. “Some are ready to buy and some are not, regardless, our goal is to create a big enough impression on them that they come back to us when they are ready to buy.”
The team works extremely hard through show season and aren’t shy about their great accomplishments.
“Our award winning presentations consistently surpass the competition in both presentation and offerings,” said Gyllenberg. “This includes the most extensive inventory at the show, on-site instant credit approvals, and immediate scheduling of demonstrations and deliveries. Marine Connection can potentially take a customer from initial greeting, through presentation, purchase, approved financing, and a scheduled delivery and orientation without ever leaving the show booth.”
Gyllenberg said the ultimate goal is to recreate the engaging showroom floor at every show. He credits that obsessive focus with the dealership’s incredible boat show results.
“For a Marine Connection boat show display, no detail is too small to be addressed and improved upon. Our show team consistently produces the ‘Star’ display in any show in which we participate,” said Gyllenberg.