MIAMI — During a pre-show event Wednesday evening at the Miami Boat Show, National Marine Manufacturers Association President Thom Dammrich shared details of the newly re-launched Discover Boating campaign with members of the boating industry. The event, co-hosted by the NMMA and GE Capital, was titled “Moving Forward at Miami’s International Boat Show.”
“Last fall, after much discussion, the NMMA board decided to reinstate the full Grow Boating assessment. It was time to get back to aggressively promoting the boating lifestyle and our industry,” Dammrich said. “So on January 1, those full assessments went back into effect, and what I want to talk to you about today is how we’re going to reignite Discover Boating.”
The first campaign from the new Discover Boating is titled “Welcome to the Water.” The focus of the campaign, as in previous years, is to grow interest and participation in boating and the boating lifestyle. What makes this generation of the program different, however, is that it will focus heavily on social media, mobile programs and the Internet to deliver its message.
In his presentation, Dammrich called the Internet the biggest media, marketing and communications opportunity in the history of the world — adding that boaters in particular are highly tech savvy. NMMA research shows boaters index highly against the total population in digital communications; for example, they’re using their cell phones nearly twice as much as the general population to get information they need.
The new program will try to leverage that digital knowledge by getting experienced boaters to invite others to join the boating lifestyle. One aspect of the campaign, the Welcome to the Water Facebook contest, encourages boaters to send invites to friends and family to join them on the water. The number of people they invite will be tracked and allow them to gain status on the Facebook page.
Currently Discover Boating has more than 40,000 fans on its Facebook page, and Dammrich says he expects that number to double or triple as the campaign rolls out in the coming months.
As part of the campaign, DiscoverBoating.com is also getting a redesign that will allow the site to personalize a visitor’s experience based on information that person provides over time. If they say they’re interested in sailing, for example, they will only see sailing images the next time they come back to Discover Boating. That serves the dual purpose of giving the visitor only the content they are interested in, while at the same time helping Discover Boating do a better job with lead nurturing.
“By tracking what they do on website, and by tracking where they go and how much time they spend there, we’re going to build a better picture of what that lead’s interests are,” Dammrich said, “so we can forward on to you much hotter leads that are better qualified.”
In addition, the site will become more mobile friendly, since currently 15 percent of visitors are coming on a mobile device and leaving because it isn’t mobile friendly. Dammrich noted that by 2014, trends suggest more people will connect with the Internet using their mobile device than with a laptop.
Other aspects of the program are moving online as well. Dammrich said the old method of sending boaters a promotional DVD doesn’t work because people don’t want to wait two weeks to get something in the mail. He said in the new campaign, that DVD material has been broken down into pieces that are available via streaming video on discoverboating.com.
“This is not just an advertising campaign, Dammrich said. “When we started out five years ago, this was an advertising campaign, and we’ll be doing some online advertising — in fact, we’ll be serving this campaign to hundreds of millions of impressions in the coming months. But it’s more than advertising — it’s about creating a movement for boating through the ultimate invitation of welcoming people to the water.”