Much of Parks Marina’s success can be attributed to the boating lifestyle brand it has created for the dealership. This brand plays a heavy role in Parks’s marketing strategy and, as such, its digital presence.
“It’s about creating a marketing plan that people buy into. ... It is so fun to see our social media followers grow to over 25,000 and climbing every day. We have created a brand that has grown to a cult following, and by doing so, our marketing strategy actually costs us nothing, it makes us money,” said Darren Anderson, CFO of Parks Marina. “At Parks Marina, we feel we have created an environment that people absolutely, positively can’t resist. We are selling a lifestyle and it involves relaxing, having family fun, creating memories and sharing real boating experiences. The atmosphere here is unique and like no other.”
The dealership invests in its digital strategy by employing two full-time marketing associates who hit hard in emails, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, videos and more. The dealership also created a new website with over 600 pages of content, encompassing all of Parks’s locations on a mobile-friendly platform.
“Our website can be described as our central nervous system of our marketing strategy. All things run through or back to the website,” said Anderson. “Our site is updated several times per day and is on the top of Google’s search results when seeking boats in Okoboji, Iowa. Our used boat inventory is directly fed to one of the Midwest’s most popular boat buying sites: Boatcrazy.com.”
Parks sends out emails once or twice a week, depending on the season, with an average open rate of 30 percent across 5,000 active users.
“We are growing that email list by our ‘nightly t-shirt drawing.’ We draw for a free t-shirt every evening: Our visitors are invited to sign up and must include their email addresses. A simple, easy and inexpensive way to grow our email audience,” said Anderson.
Parks Marina leads the industry with innovative social media involvement on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Periscope and Snapchat.
“We are able to not only drive sales, but also keep our customers informed and increase traffic to our website,” said Anderson. “Through the use of social media, Parks Marina is able to make a significant connection with customers. We want to be able to respond to our customers faster and more directly. Social media has allowed us to do that. It’s less about selling ourselves to the customer and more about providing an avenue in which they are able to get to know our businesses on a personal level. It’s fun for the customer to be able to view new boats as soon as they arrive to the showroom or to click through a photo album of an event and see themselves in our pictures.”
The dealership boasts 25,000 Facebook followers and uses the social media platform to research consumer needs and offer discounts to consumers. Each location has its own Facebook page.
“We use each page to feed each other, driving up our views, engagement and likes. We switch up top banners almost weekly, to keep page current and fresh. … Some of our posts have been so creative they have gone viral with over 109,000 views,” said Anderson. “At each location you are pummeled with information regarding the other. Each [location] functions better because of ‘partnering’ up with the others,making a great combination and a destination for our boating customers. It’s been hugely responsible for our success and ability to sell more boats.”
Snapchat is also of particular interest, as it is not a social media platform many dealers are using yet. Parks offers weekly specials on the social media app, which customers can take a screenshot of and present in-store to redeem deals.