Tangible marketing leads to increased boat sales

The tangible is always more enticing and that’s particularly true in the marine industry. Getting a customer in front of or on a boat invigorates and excites them about being on the water.

Fish Tale Sales & Service took this to heart with their marketing and chose to put their boats in front of eight million people a day.

Fish Tale Sales & Service currently displays two boats at the Southwest Florida International Airport: The Robalo 226 Cayman Bay Boat and the Grady-White 251 Coastal Explorer Bay Boat.

This is not Fish Tale Sales & Service’s first venture into model display. The dealership first featured the Grady-White 225 Freedom at the airport for some time beginning in August 2013. They replaced it with a larger Grady-White and added the Robalo boat due to the 225 Freedom’s success.

The Grady-White is on display in the Ticketing Lobby on the upper level while the Robalo is located near Baggage Claim 3 on the lower level. The boats will be on display for several months.

The boat models are the only advertising Fish Tale Sales & Service uses. They do come with a kiosk containing model specifications and contact information for Fish Tale Sales & Service, as well as a QR code leading to the dealership’s website, but the boats mostly speak for themselves.

Ray Jahn, general manager of Fish Tale Sales & Service, conceived the idea while wandering the airport and looking at different displays. He saw how many people were viewing these displays and putting a boat in the airport seemed to make perfect sense.

“That’s hands-on advertising,” said Jahn. “Most people can touch it, feel it, look at it – almost experience the boat itself right in front of them.”

Jahn believes the airport is the perfect location for the boat displays because of the high audience volume and because boating is such a large Florida attraction.

“When they get off the airplane or they’re walking into the airport, it’s the first sight It’s a tremendous amount of visual contact and we get so much response out of it. It’s amazing,” said Jahn.

Jahn first contacted the local port authority when he was ready to display a boat. Sue Phelan, manager of business and development services for the Lee County Port Authority, met with Jahn, her director and the airport director to discuss the possibility. They felt this was an exciting, fresh opportunity and chose to move forward with an exclusive agreement for Fish Tale Sales & Service.

“The boat displays have become an eye-catching attraction at the airport. They grab everyone’s attention and it’s exciting to watch people interact and gather around as they use them as a back drop for their photos,” said Phelan.


Jahn called Grady-White and they developed a strategy to expose the brand to a broader audience. The boat displays are completed at night when the airport is quieter, taken apart to some extent and rebuilt in their display locations. The process only took Jahn a couple of months from the first port authority call to the day the first boat displayed.

“In the first couple days we started getting phone calls asking us about the boat in the airport,” Jahn said.

The dealership has seen significant success with all models they have displayed at the airport. Fish Tale Sales & Service keeps a stock at their dealership of the boats they display at the airport for customers who have called and wanted the exact boat they see. And the boat manufacturers have benefited from this achievement.

“We’ve had a number of sales, not only locally here at Fish Tale but I know it has spread to other Grady-White dealers around the country just because it gives a visual,” said Jahn. “It’s generated a lot of calls here to the business asking about Grady-White.”

Thanks to the success of the boat displays, Fish Tale Sales & Service has become the number two dealer in the world for Grady-White sale with about ten boats sold per year from airport leads. Jahn has also received a number of calls from other businesses asking how well their boat displays do for Fish Tale Sales & Service’s business. He calls the boat displays the “best lead system we have.”

“The folks that are calling in on these boats are serious buyers,” said Jahn.

Thanks to their success at the airport, Jahn is currently reviewing other display opportunities to expand their exposure. He suggests other dealers find ways to think outside of their box for new marketing endeavors.

“You can’t always look at one way of advertising,” said Jahn. “Look at different areas where you can participate locally in your community yet build a focus on a large amount of people.”

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