Rethink your target market at MDCE 2014

MINNEAPOLIS — U.S. demographics aren’t just starting to shift; they already have. If marine dealerships want to capitalize on the changing faces of today’s market, they need real-world, implementable strategies for reaching these new prospects in a way that resonates with their individual needs, wants and desires.

At the 2014 Marine Dealer Conference & Expo, taking place Nov. 16-19 in Orlando, Fla., bestselling author and marketing expert Kelly McDonald will help MDCE attendees rethink their target customer, learn new rules for connecting with people of different ages, races, genders, ethnicities and sexual orientations, and develop strategies for attracting these prospects to their dealerships.

In her MDCE session, “How to Market to Those Not Like You,” McDonald will help dealers discover ways of appealing to new markets of potential buyers and ultimately selling them more boats.

Attendees will walk away from McDonald’s session with marketing tactics that are proven to drive sales and provide a much-sought-after competitive edge in the current marine retail marketplace. The session takes place Wednesday, Nov. 19 from 10:30 to 11:45 a.m. ET as part of MDCE’s Marketing Track.

“The changes in U.S. demographics suggest that the boating business won’t grow unless we learn how to reach beyond our current customer base,” explains Liz Walz, director of education for the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas, which produces the annual event in partnership with Boating Industry. “While our traditional markets remain important, it’s critical that we learn how to share the boating lifestyle with new prospects who seek the benefits it provides, such as family time and bonding experiences. Kelly can help dealers develop marketing strategies to appeal to new markets and bring them into the boating fold, hopefully as lifelong devotees and customers.”

Each of the 2014 MDCE educational tracks — Sales, Marketing, Leadership and Service Plus — features five sessions. In addition to McDonald’s advice on adapting to and thriving among today’s changing customer demographics, the Marketing Track includes sessions that provide insight into increasing SEO through social media, filling your online marketing holes, developing an unbeatable marketing plan, and exploring the next wave of digital marketing tools and trends, among other topics.

“The retail customer is undergoing drastic changes, and it behooves marine dealers to adjust their marketing plans accordingly,” says Boating Industry editor-in-chief Jonathan Sweet. “Kelly is an expert in this arena, and she brings to MDCE a host of innovative ideas to attract new prospects and convert them into boaters. For anyone looking to grow their business, this is a must-attend session.”

The 2014 MDCE will offer 30 educational sessions in all, the most the event has ever offered, including seven Pre-Conference Workshops. The conference has traditionally included three educational tracks, but in 2014, it has expanded to four tracks: Leadership, Sales, Marketing and Service Plus. A Closing Keynote address also has been added this year.

The MDCE is scheduled for Nov. 16-19 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. It has attracted an increasing number of dealers every year since 2007. In 2013, MDCE featured double-digit growth in dealer attendance, for a total of 615 marine retail professionals. MRAA’s goal is to grow the event to more than 1,000 dealer attendees. To learn more, visit


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