Leading the way

When things get too technical, people tend to tune out.

For that reason, boat builders’ expectations for the Discover Boating lead management seminar at the Miami boat show may not have been very high. But as the seminar wore on, the attendees seemed to get excited – and rightly so.

The new lead system designed by Channel Blade Technologies is easy to use, even if you’re not all that Web savvy, and its functionality is impressive.

Not only can you download the names, phone numbers, mailing addresses and e-mail addresses of people who want to buy a boat – which is exciting in and of itself – but you can quickly and easily take action, using those names to generate e-mail and snail mail marketing campaigns.

If you’re already one of Channel Blade’s Footsteps customers, then you’re really in luck. The Footsteps software they sell allows boat builders to automatically deliver the right leads to the right dealers. It actually can be connected to the Discover Boating Lead System to allow your dealers to take action on each lead as it comes in.

Those not using Footsteps can distribute the leads to their dealers manually, using parameters such as geography, purchase intent timing, phone number provided, boat category interest and demographic data to sort through them.

Of course, not everyone can gain access to the site. The leads are strictly available to those boat builders who’ve made financial contributions to the Grow Boating campaign through the engine assessment. Builders that have yet to contribute cannot directly access the leads and neither can dealers.

It won’t be long, though, before certified dealers will have access as well. NMMA’s Carl Blackwell explains that as of October, once all dealers have had an initial opportunity to take the dealer certification seminar, the site will likely be opened to those who are certified.

Seminar attendees also got a peek at the new DiscoverBoating.com consumer site, which seemed to be both sophisticated and easy to use, with enough features for an article of its own. If you haven’t visited it yet, it’s worth checking out.

The lead management site — accessed through www.growboating.org — was launched in early March, and with the ad campaign scheduled to kick off this month, the leads should start flowing in. How many leads that will be is difficult to assess.

NMMA says the campaign will generate 1.63 billion impressions within the United States. It hopes a large number of those receiving impressions will visit the DiscoverBoating.com site. And Bob McCann, vice president of education for Channel Blade, says 1 to 3 percent of any Web site’s unique visitors are typically converted to leads — but the larger question is 1 to 3 percent of how many?

There is no answer yet, unless you believe in crystal balls. But the good news is the industry now has the ability to quickly and easily take action to turn those leads — no matter how many there are — into sales.

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