Home » December 2015 » 2015 Best in Class: Best Marketing

2015 Best in Class: Best Marketing

By Boating Industry

Action Water Sports
Hudsonville, Mich.

It’s like they always say: If you want something done right, you’ve got to do it yourself.

This is the approach Action Water Sports takes with its marketing. All marketing for the dealership is done in-house, which allows the marketing team to make adjustments quickly and adopt new technology while maintaining steady traditional media production. The marketing team also handles graphic design for print and web pieces and more.

041-BI15DEC-BestInClass“Our goal is to be a dynamic industry leading business promoting the boating lifestyle in every facet of our business,” said Kevin Zoodsma, marketing manager at Action Water Sports. “Having the team in-house allows us [to] have a greater knowledge of how to best distribute our marketing dollars.”

Among the marketing processes the dealership handles on its own is its digital presence. The marketing team builds and maintains its own websites on a WordPress platform.

“[The website platform] allows us a lot of flexibility over the private providers like DealerSpike, ARI or PSN. This requires a staff that understands coding language, but it gives us a lot of benefits and added flexibility to run a built-in blog integrated directly into our actionwater.com domain for better SEO, dynamic real time scheduling for service and a responsive design for mobile that handles our multiple locations better than the private providers,” said Zoodsma. “Plus we get to tap into the open source coding platform used by thousands of coders around the world.”

Other features include the ability to run countdown clocks to sale events, shortened URLs like actionwater.com/survey, which work much better for postcards or newsletters, and thousands of other features that are available in the WordPress Plugin repository for free or a small fee.

“We believe our website has taken over as the new front door of our business. We take advantage of this first impression with regularly updated inventory, products, and events,” said Zoodsma. “Our site is very easy to navigate and uses responsive technology to reformat to the size of your phone, iPad, or computer screen.”

Action Water Sports has seen evidence that investing in less disruptive mediums like Internet, mobile and direct mail has been more beneficial for the dealership. Customers receive three to four eight-page newsletters per year, which are called “The Action Insider.” This newsletters contains deals in the pro shop, new boat model announcements, current used boat listings, upcoming events, and great content like interviews with manufacturers about new products and general boating and safety tips. The newsletter is mailed to anyone who has done business with the dealership or lives on a lake in the dealership’s region and is available on the company’s website; over 36,000 people receive it.

“We’ve seen a good return on investment in direct mail and believe this is one of our best ways of reaching our customers and reminding them what we offer,” said Zoodsma. “The key to getting a good return on this piece is by providing great content. We want to make sure it is something our customers look forward to reading, not stuffing their mailboxes with ads.”

E-newsletters are produced once or twice a month, depending on the time of year, and serve as a quick reminder between direct mail pieces of upcoming events and sales.

While Action Water Sports participates in several different social media sites, the company focuses most of its time on Facebook and Instagram. The dealership’s Facebook page has over 4,400 fans.

“[Facebook] has been a great way to communicate with our customers and reach out to others potential customers with the same interests,” said Zoodsma. “We view social media as a great advertising tool not to just blast at our customers, but to build a relationship with them online and create fun ways for our customers to share their love for boating online with their friends. Online advertising is a growing piece of our overall marketing spend because it’s becoming so great at targeting our customers directly and offering ways for our customers to ‘share’ or refer our information to their friends.”

That constant communication with its customers is at the forefront of Action Water Sports’s marketing strategy, and everything it does is done to cater to those existing base.

“We view our marketing as a way of reaching out to new customers and maintaining a relationship with our existing customers so we try to focus on providing content people are interested in and new exciting product people want tot know about. This strategy guides our media buys and marketing channels,” said Zoodsma. “We feel we have a great reach and a large pool of raving fans. While getting in front of new customers is always on our mind, we feel spending most of our time reaching out to our existing tribe of customers and giving them the tools to refer others to our store has is one of our best courses of action.”

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