The boating industry has been facing a longstanding and continual decline in new boat buyers. This point has been made multiple times over the last several years, but it seems as if it is falling on deaf ears since very little marketing changes have been made.
According to Jack Ellis of Info-Link, the percentage of new boat buyers under the age of 40 has decreased by approximately 50 percent over the past 15 years. Part of this problem could be that the generation of Baby Boomers is massive compared to Gen Xers and Millennials. Additionally, after the housing bubble crisis of 2008 and the current student loan debt issue, it may be that these generations would have difficulty investing in a boat. Regardless of the cause, marketing within the boating industry must address the future of the boating industry by targeting these younger generations. Inbound marketing is a method that could significantly improve this situation.
Inbound vs. Outbound and the Boating Industry Currently
Inbound marketing is described as targeted marketing, which brings qualified visitors to a business by attracting customers and producing easily accessible and interesting content that converts into clients. Outbound marketing, or traditional marketing, consists of companies reaching out to potential customers, many of which may not be interested in the company’s product or service, by cold-calling, direct mail, unsolicited emails and advertisements. As seen in the chart below, from the monthly research in the March issue of Boating Industry, the top marketing tactics used in the boating industry are overwhelmingly focused on outbound marketing tactics.
Inbound marketing tactics fall more toward the bottom of this list, even though inbound marketing has been proven to be more effective at generating leads and is drastically less expensive than outbound marketing. HubSpot continues on to show why outbound marketing is broken. “86 percent of people skip television ads, 91 percent unsubscribe from email, 44 percent of direct mail is unopened and 200 million people are on the ‘Do Not Call’ list.”
Even more so, social media has taken over the Internet, making it one of the largest platforms to reach audiences. 90 percent of individuals aged 18 to 29 on the Internet use social networking sites, compared to about 60 percent of individuals aged 50 to 64. Inbound marketing, the Internet and social media all work hand in hand. These are the platforms where a majority of the Millennials and Gen Xers are.
However, this doesn’t mean marketers and businesses in the boating industry should completely rid themselves of outbound marketing techniques. As seen in the below image, also from the March issue of Boating Industry, boat shows, company websites and online advertising were some of the most successful marketing tactics used by boating industry businesses.
How to Use Inbound Marketing in the Boating Industry
The boating industry must think like the audience they are trying to target. All audiences have questions and it is up to those in the boating industry to use inbound marketing to answer said questions.
Thinking from the mindset of the consumers is what can make a strong inbound marketing campaign. By using your insight into what consumers may be asking, you can begin to create content that solves these questions. “How-to” videos are great for marine parts stores looking to target DIY customers. Social media blurbs on new clothes or discounts would benefit both consumers and boating outfitters. Listicles on boating and yachting safety tips are a nice piece of content for a boating school or marina to produce.
Marketing within the industry must target these younger generations, and inbound marketing could make this task easier. The boating industry will be more appealing to Millennials and Gen –Xers by increasing the use of inbound marketing, which is what the younger audience wants. The Internet, social media, and inbound marketing tactics (blogging, videos, infographics and interactive tools) have been proven to work alongside traditional methods. The industry just has to incorporate these additional tactics to see success.
Dani Barnack of Atlantic Yacht Basin, Inc. is a marketing and SEO specialist. She enjoys boating, cooking and traveling in her free time. Barnack can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 757-4820-2141 or http://atlanticyachtbasin.com.