2019 Best in Class: Best Marketing

Marine Sales Group
Memphis, Tenn.

Marine Sales Group is aptly named. They have two showrooms and an off-site storage facility in Counce, Tenn. Marine Sales Kentuckiana is a full-service marine dealership in Gilbertsville, Ky. Lake Viking Marine offers a full-service marina as well as boat sales and service in Gallatin, Mo. And Lodder’s Marine provides new and used boat sales and service in Fairfield, Ohio.

However, trying to operate as one dealership rather than four stores is their main objective, and one of the ways they do that is through their comprehensive marketing.

“Our marketing plan is centered around four categories,” explains Mike Tutor, CEO, Marine Sales Group. “Market dominance, growth, innovation, and generic framework. We analyze each category as to whether we need to retain and grow, measure and optimize, convert, or acquire. In recent years we focused around growing, but this past year our focus was to prioritize our marketing activities in each category around measuring and optimizing our business.”

Tutor went on to say their business and marketing objective is clear; measure results, analyze the trends then make corresponding improvements and enhancements to the business.

Here are some of their marketing growth strategies:

They redesigned their websites for a consistent look across all locations. All inventory is now shared amongst the locations allowing customers more inventory options.

Employees at all of the locations post regularly on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. Two locations in particular use video extensively and average about 60 different videos at any given time on their channel.

“Most of these videos are walk-throughs of our inventory,” explains Tutor. “We hear it all the time when customers tell us the video is what made the difference. These videos are also posted on our BoatTrader listings. BoatTrader is a big producer for us.”

All four locations do Facebook ads, especially to publicize dealer events. Tutor says they normally see spikes in leads generated on the days they post Facebook ads.

“Each location placed ads on various announcements nearly doubling our activity. We found this marketing to be more targeted, interactive, and measurable. We found ads with targeted content and community outreach help in building our fan likes. We also use Facebook Insights to watch our competitors.”

All locations use Google Analytics to review keyword phrases and site descriptions at least once every quarter to assure they have the right descriptive phrases to enhance SEO.

Between all their locations Marine Sales Group delivered over 25 weekly e-newsletters highlighting promotions, offerings, events, educational editorials, safety tips, specials, and featured boats. They use their click-through reports to gauge and to learn more about our customer’s interests.

Special events are also a big part of their overall marketing program, and they added a new one in 2018 at Marine Sales of Pickwick called Boats, Boots & Ballads benefiting the Darryl Worley Foundation. The country singer and Memphis native entertained 250 guests at the showroom in Counce, east of Memphis, and they raised $250,000 to help fund grants for various programs and for families in times of crisis.

They also do annual customer appreciation events, fun runs, demo days and community outreach programs such as Toys for Tots.

“These events are huge successes,” Tutor said. “We don’t sell a lot of units at these events, but we strengthen a lot of relationships with our customers. Each event brings in new customers and opportunities.”

Tutor also added that another constant in their marketing approach is presenting their dealerships as leaders in the community and in the industry.

“Our goal is to make our markets aware that our dealerships are part of a ‘Dealer Group,’ that we are certified and that we are a Boating Industry Top 100 dealer.”

Tutor says Top 100 logos are featured in all magazine ads, brochures, business cards, and boat shows at all locations. They also promote their dealer status in local press releases, Facebook posts, monthly tweets, and e-newsletters. Additionally, Top 100 decals are displayed at the entrances to showrooms and posters are displayed in all sales and administrative offices.

“We felt if we could do all this better than our competition, we would reap the rewards,” said CEO Mike Tutor in closing. “The best part is, using email blasts, social media channels and our new websites does not cost us a lot of marketing dollars. But when it all boils down, what makes the business successful or not is how you take care of the customer.” 

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