NMMA provides Grow Boating update

CHICAGO – The Grow Boating Marketing Task Force has narrowed its search to four agencies, from more than 100 applications, to help it build a marketing communications strategy to increase participation in boating, the National Marine Manufacturers Association said in a release today.

The finalists are:

– Carmichael Lynch, Minneapolis
– DDB, Chicago
– Mullen, Wenham, Mass.
– Richards Group, Dallas

“The agency that is selected will help us to evaluate market research we have conducted, develop a strategy for maximizing our marketing efforts and present the final program to the industry prior to the launch of the campaign.” said MasterCraft Boats President and CEO John Dorton, chair of the Grow Boating Marketing Task Force.

The Grow Boating Initiative was launched last October to discuss factors that are helping to grow boating and those that are hindering its expansion. Out of this came a strategic effort to grow boating participation. The Marketing Task Force was formed during this meeting to address one of five major focus areas to grow boating.

Progress for other task forces

NMMA also reported that the more than 100 industry stakeholders involved in the Grow Boating Initiative have also made progress in the other four focus areas.

Product Standards and Quality:

Chaired by Advanced Technologies’ Chip Shea, this task force has focused on enhancing NMMA Product Certification Using ABYC Standards. As was recently announced, NMMA Certification will be a prerequisite for boat manufacturer member companies starting with the 2007 model year, and customer satisfaction measurement has become an element of NMMA Certification.

Dealer Standards and Quality:

Tasked with raising the bar on dealer sales and service, this task force, chaired by Russo Marine’s Larry Russo, is working to define standards for dealers and potentially certify dealers to meet these standards. As the Grow Boating Initiative moves forward, and a marketing communications program is adopted, the industry will drive customers to Certified Dealers to purchase Certified Boats. This task force is also developing a Customer Bill of Rights and Responsibilities.

Timely and Accurate Retail Sales Statistics:

Engine and boat manufacturers are working together to modify warranty-reporting systems to allow timely reporting of boat brand, model, length and hull identification number along with engine warranty data. The group, chaired by Genmar’s George Sullivan, is working to have retail sales by type of boat available within days of each month’s end. The program launch in early 2005 will be followed by an effort to do the same for inboard and sterndrive boats.

Funding Model:

Funding a major campaign to increase participation in boating will not be cheap. Bob Deputy with Godfrey Marine is chairing the task force, working with boat and engine manufacturers initially, to determine the possibility of developing a contribution based on cents per horsepower. Following the RV industry model, dealers, retailers, rental outfits, marinas, boatyards, distributors, banks and insurance companies will also be asked to make proposals on how they can contribute financially to fund the campaign.

“There is a sense of urgency to keep moving forward, but it is understood that in order to be successful, we must continue to make progress in all the established focus areas,” said NMMA president Thom Dammrich.

Update meetings for interested parties on all aspects of the initiative are planned for late October at IBEX in Miami Beach and in mid-November at the MRAA Annual Convention in Las Vegas. For more information, contact NMMA Director of Public Relations Kari Straley at (312) 946-6204; kstraley@nmma.org.

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