Best New Idea
Incorporating video blogs into an overall dealership social media strategy has given Clark Marine owner and partner Rob Brown a new appreciation of content marketing’s staying power.
The “Rob’s Vlogs” series also has given Clark Marine a personality, and created an advanced trust, especially with new customers, Brown says.
During the 2016 calendar year, through Facebook, Clark Marine produced 42 videos, which drew over 600,000 views.
“We produced about one video per week during the 2017 calendar year, with similar per video viewership,” Brown says. “The basis of all of our videos are to be informative and in no way sales oriented.”
Many of the videos are spontaneous, although the more technical subjects are researched and discussed ahead of time, Brown says, adding it’s important the information that’s published online is correct and can be verified.
“We include our customers in posts every chance we get,” Brown says. “We have featured many of our team members in service-related videos.”
Video topics include boater safety and general service tips, as well as best practice segments on handling fuels to more in-depth service procedures topics.
“Many of our videos have worked well as conversation starters,” Brown says. “This was most apparent during our boat show season. Complete strangers would walk up to me and introduce themselves and then start talking to me as though they had known me for years.” At some point during the conversations, the person would bring up one or more of Brown’s videos and talk about how it answered a question or offered a tip that was helpful to them.
“I’ve never had an easier boat show season nor have we ever sold more boats then we have this past spring,” Brown says. “Our economy is better, without a doubt, but being able start a conversation with a perfect stranger who you have already gained the trust of through a video has played a big role in our success.”
At one point during Clark Marine’s show season, the dealership found itself up 41 percent in sales. Brown says that increase was directly linked to new boating customers, or those who had mentioned a specific video Clark Marine had produced. “There are very few work days that go by without one or more of our customers mentioning a video or razzing me about something to do with them,” he says.
Putting together and producing the videos has been a highly educational process for Brown and the rest of the Clark Marine staff. “The manufacturers are happy with our increased performance, our newest customers are happy with their new boats and dealer, and we are having a ball,” he says.
The dealership strives to publish at least one ‘Rob’s Vlogs’ per week. “Our mindset for producing a video is pretty much the same as writing a blog,” Brown says. “Many of the videos take place in our store or in the front yard of our primary facility.”
Clark Marine produced a series of ‘Ice Out’ videos chronicling the opening of area lakes. The videos were well received and were the topic of many conversations throughout our recent boat show season, Brown says.
“We have no doubt that the videos have assisted us in our sales efforts,” he says. “It may well be one of the best marketing methods that we have employed.”
Rob’s Vlogs continually suggest viewers visit their own local dealers for additional information on the subjects relayed.
“One of my friendly competitors told me he’s circulating certain video blogs I had published for his own team members to watch,” Brown says, adding the competitor mentioned Clark Marine was helping to training other dealers.
“I took this as a solid compliment,” Brown says. “This communication avenue has had an impact on our bottom line, although that’s really not the goal. Our goal is and always will be promoting safe boating and fun on the water.”