Grow Boating redirects funds

CHICAGO – To counter a tough economy, the National Marine Manufacturers Association Board of Directors unanimously approved a temporary redirection of Grow Boating assessments to support immediate sales-driving efforts at the manufacturer and dealer level.

Because of slower marine sales, the Grow Boating team expects less funding to be available for planned 2009 Grow Boating efforts, and therefore the board determined tha the resulting budget would not produce the effective national campaign needed to move product and create prospects as in years past.

The revised includes redirecting 85 percent of Grow Boating assessments toward a combination of efforts designed to increase dealer sales, while maintaining some momentum of the Discover Boating campaign. The remaining 15 percent is expected to be put toward supporting public relations, DiscoverBoating.com, Marine Industry Dealership Certification and a few other programs.

“In its first three years, Grow Boating efforts are accomplishing exactly what we set out to do—increase participation, which will lead to increased sales over time,” noted Thom Dammrich, president of Grow Boating Inc. and NMMA. “In fact, we have stemmed a 10-year decline in boating participation with consecutive increases in 2006 and 2007, according to the National Sporting Goods Association. When we developed the Grow Boating Initiative, we realized it would require long-term support in order to see real growth and so the NMMA Board remains unanimously committed to returning to our united, national campaign as soon as market conditions improve.”

The NMMA Board is expected to readdress the redirection at the Board meeting to be held during the NMMA’s American Boating Congress May 3-5 in Washington, D.C. At that time, based on market conditions, the board is expected to determine whether the redirected assessments should be extended beyond June 30, 2009.

Despite the redirection of assessments, NMMA says it will continue contributing its own dollars to fund Grow Boating, contributing the same amount in 2009 as it did in previous years. This includes fully funding all water access activities, all product certification efforts, and staff and overhead costs.

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“The Discover Boating campaign has generated more than 175,000 prospects, and more than 12,000 of those prospects have purchased a boat while our integrated marketing efforts have achieved unprecedented brand awareness, reaching 37 percent of its target market in three years—well beyond similar programs in other industries,” said Carl Blackwell, vice president of marketing and communications for Grow Boating Inc. and NMMA. “We also know through third-party research that consumers are much more likely to participate in boating or purchase a boat if they are aware of Discover Boating advertising versus those who are not. These are impressive achievements that reinforce the need to continue to protect and invest in our valuable, industry-owned brand asset—Discover Boating.”

Public relations, DiscoverBoating.com, and Marine Industry Dealership Certification are three core programs that will continue to support the Initiative’s national efforts, NMMA says, through the nine-month assessment redirection period.

In fact, Marine Industry Dealership Certification will now offer new programs in order to provide more cost-effective options for interested dealers and ensure consumers continue to have the best possible retail experience. These new programs include:

  • For dealers seeking initial certification, the launch workshop can now be attended via the Web. Traditional, face-to-face workshops will still be offered, but the webinar option alleviates associated travel costs and additional time commitment.
  • For continued certification, dealers now have two choices: An in-dealership site visit remains available at a cost to the dealer of $2,495; however, if the dealership elects to submit quarterly management reports electronically, they can choose to complete Certification Continuation via a webinar at a cost of $1,495, reducing the cost by $1,000 annually.
  • A temporary, six-month grace period will be added to the latest certification anniversary of every certified dealership. This one-time grace period applies to all certified dealerships, plus those becoming certified within the next six months. This replaces the current 60-day probation period.
  • Manufacturers received a pledge form via e-mail and will receive a copy via U.S. mail that they must sign and return to NMMA in order to receive any of the redirected Grow Boating assessment credits. The pledge form outlines criteria each manufacturer will adhere to as part of the redirection program. The criteria include:

  • Apply 100 percent of the redirection assessment credits toward creating marketing and promotional efforts that will assist dealers in moving product during this difficult economic climate
  • Assist dealers in converting prospects into buyers
  • Fully report to dealers on how the credits are being spent
  • There is no change for engine manufacturers. Engine manufacturers will continue to report engine sales to NMMA in order for NMMA to bill Grow Boating assessments, and there is no change in the assessment on loose engines sales.

    The redirection will begin with assessments incurred on or after October 1, 2008 and continue through June 30, 2009.

    Anyone with questions regarding the redirected assessments is encouraged to contact Carl Blackwell, vice president of marketing and communications for Grow Boating Inc. and NMMA, at (312) 946-6277; cblackwell@nmma.org.

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