Be Patient With Grow Boating

Ever hear the expression “Rome wasn’t built in a day?” This sentiment was on the tip of my tongue recently, after reading an industry trade column that addressed the first six month’s results of the Grow Boating Initiative. In a nutshell, the columnist implied we should be further along results-wise than we currently are; that the end doesn’t justify the means.
In a nutshell, that conclusion couldn’t be further from the truth.
What this industry has accomplished in the wake of launching its first-ever national marketing campaign, relative to the amount of money spent (about $12 million), is nothing short of astonishing, according to independent market research firm Russell Research. Fact is, according to another study just completed, since March 2006 one out of every six people registered on as a boating prospect has purchased a boat since visiting the Website. And that’s just in the campaign’s first eight months!
We know through a study conducted by Left Brain Marketing in 2004 on behalf of Grow Boating that, on average, it takes prospective buyers three years (from initial interest to actual purchase) to buy a boat. And although it’s true Grow Boating’s in the early stage of this process, research indicates it is undeniably having an impact—and quickly!
Grow Boating is not a Band-Aid for our industry’s problems; rather, its creation, development and execution is more like a vaccine, aimed at attacking our challenges from the core and preventing them from recurring. There is no one, quick, magical solution to get more people involved in boating. We can’t expect to make new boaters out of all 14.5 million people in our target demographic overnight. GBI is a long-term, brand-building strategy designed to first arouse peoples’ interest, turn dreamers into owners and keep them in boating for years to come. And six months is definitely not considered “long-term.”
It took GoRVing, the RV industry’s fully integrated marketing campaign, three years to see any sales increases. The beef industry’s campaign, “Beef, it’s What’s for Dinner”, experienced declining sales after its marketing venture finally kicked off. That decline, however, was eventually followed by staggering sales increases. Who’s to say the same pattern won’t hold true for the boating industry? So far, I’d say we’re ahead of the curve.
Grow Boating shouldn’t be viewed as a “chicken or the egg” situation. The campaign is a means to bring boating to the forefront and get people excited about being on the water; not a short-term retail promotion. We all know 2006 has been a tough year for boating, and I’ve heard we’re potentially staring down another tough year ahead. Thank heavens industry leaders had the foresight back in October 2003 to look at our industry from a long-term perspective and put programs into motion designed to have positive impacts for years to come.

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