2018 Best in Class: Best Marketing


Russell Marine

Alexander City, Ala.

In today’s world of endless variety, Russell Marine takes a multifaceted approach to planning its marketing strategy for the year.

First and foremost, Russell Marine consistently researches the needs and desires of boating consumers in the area. From maintaining personal relationships with local boaters, to staying up to date on market share information, and everything in between, Russell Marine strives to always be in the know with its local consumers and community.

“Our employees interact with these consumers on a daily basis,” Russell Marine president Dave Commander says. “Information is shared on consumer desires and needs at our sales meetings, managers’ meetings and strategic planning sessions.”

Commander says that new products are brought into the dealership each year based on feedback from consumers.

When it comes to laying out a marketing plan for the year, Russell Marine approaches each year with one objective in mind: develop brand awareness and recognition to create demand for its products.

For 2017, Russell Marine implemented a couple new methods to keep things moving on the digital marketing side, including teaming up with Spectrum to place digital ads on various websites and an ad word campaign, and hiring Boat Chat to assist with instant communication for online interactions.

Also on the digital side, Russell continues to put an emphasis on its social media presence, with continuously growing followings on both Instagram and Facebook.

“Those marketing dollars dedicated to Internet and website marketing do provide reliable, immediate feedback,” Commander says.

Unlike some in the marine industry who have moved away from traditional marketing such as print, television, and radio, Russell Marine has continued to find success in using a healthy mix of both digital and traditional marketing.

The key to Russell’s marketing plan is regular review and adaptation, if needed.

The management and marketing gurus at Russell come together at the beginning of the year to develop and implement a new marketing plan. However, the planning doesn’t stop there.

Russell uses monthly management meetings to review everything from sales to advertising and everything in between. Commander says that the team then adjusts and adapts plans as necessary throughout the year.

On top of monthly reviews, Russell uses a wide variety of resources to track its return on investments. “Bottom line, the best method that we have found to track the return on investment is the success or failure of the event on the are we are trying to market,” Commander says.

Boat shows and community events continue to be another strong point for Russell Marine’s marketing tactics.

“Boat shows are a crucial component to the success of Russell Marine and require detailed planning and preparation well over six months before the show,” Commander says. “ Our goal for all shows is to give brand exposure, create leads, develop relationships with our customers and ultimately generate boat sales and lifetime customers.”

Russell took on seven boat shows throughout 2017, resulting in more than 38 percent of its annual revenue. 

During the Birmingham Boat Show — the dealership’s largest out-of-town show — Russell offered everything from a VIP reception to various giveaways, resulting in the sale of over $29,000 worth of merchandise and a large amount of new leads.

Along with boat shows, Russell provides customers and prospective customers with a variety of sponsored events throughout the year in order to increase brand awareness and better connect with area boaters.

The company is so involved in the area it operates by the saying “there is always something happening on Russell Lands On Lake Martin,” Commander says.

From various boating classes like Women on Lake Martin, to sponsoring concerts at the Lake Martin Amphitheater, Russell Marine continuously aims to be involved in its local community, further expanding its brand awareness at almost any available opportunity.

With harnessing the power of all things marketing, from digital to traditional, Russell strives to keep its name in the eyes of both current and prospective customers as much as possible.   


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