Social proof through traditional media

The Boating Industry Top 100 dealers represent some of the best boat dealers in North America. In the Top 100 Spotlight, we share some of their best practices. It furthers the mission of the Top 100 program: to not only recognize the best dealers, but to share their knowledge and experience with the entire industry. 

While the importance of digital marketing should not be underestimated, diversifying your strategy and utilizing traditional methods is still a key to success for boat dealers. Boat Town understands this and used radio to promote its business and services.

Clayton Raven, president of Boat Town, partnered with KLBG, a conservative talk radio station in its market area of Austin, Texas, as the show’s audience was one Boat Town wanted to target. This partnership included live, on-the-air radio spots with Mark Caeser, a popular morning show host for KLBG, and his family experiencing Boat Town’s concierge program and its ability to help kids experience the fun of wakesurfing.

Boat Town’s live radio spots drove traffic to the dealership.

Boat Town’s live radio spots drove traffic to the dealership.

Boat Town’s surf concierge program includes surf lessons for two hours, which can turn even children who are not water sports enthusiast into avid boaters. Typically during a boat sale, delivery captains at Boat Town deliver the boat and make sure everyone is comfortable, which is followed by scheduling an appointment with a surf concierge expert at the client’s convenience. These experts will come back as often as it takes to get everyone in the family comfortable, but it usually only takes one or two times.

“We modified the surf concierge and [so] we wanted to promote it on-air, and we wanted live spots with people who had done it,” said Raven. “The message we were trying to drive home is we can truly take the learning curve out of it and take you to instant enjoyment with the boat.”

The live radio spots were targeted during drive times in the morning and afternoon, and they played for 3.5 months.

“This is really one of the things that sets Boat Town far apart from the rest,” said a radio personality in a spot. “Russ and Hunter from Boat Town did an awesome job of teaching my kids Kathryn and Mark how to surf, and Russ did a super job of showing me how to operate the MasterCraft boat and give us all maximum enjoyment.”

Boat Town

Boat Town

Boat Town hosted the radio station on Lake Austin and allowed the families to experience everything they would have experienced in the surf program at Boat Town had they purchased a boat.

“The boats we sell – these high-end wake boats and surf boats – are not inexpensive, and the message we were really trying to drive home with mom and dad is that if you deal with Boat Town and you buy a boat, we’re going to create a family activity but we’re going to make it totally hassle-free,” said Raven.

Coincidentally or not, the second month of Boat Town’s radio promotion was the biggest month in the company’s 50-year history, based on revenue and profit. The dealership’s Surf Saturdays and Surf Sundays, which are open to anyone who books an appointment, were sold out during the whole season.

What made the promotion so successful was its ability to provide social proof from real people who were having real experiences, which is a key marketing tactic for boat dealers.

“You listen to 95 percent of the radio spots or TV spots, it’s just people talking. ‘Go to this air conditioning company, do that.’ But I noticed that when some of the radio people [do promoted spots] … you can feel the energy and enthusiasm in their voice go up a couple notches,” said Raven. “I think that’s conveyed through the radio when the people have done it themselves.”


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