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Discover Boating marketing campaign shows early signs of success in 2015

By Brianna Liestman

Discover Boating’s marketing campaign is on pace to finish the year with huge success, thanks in part to the Stories of Discovery and the organization’s partnership with boating ambassador and country music star Jake Owen.

As of date, the Stories of Discovery video views are seeing a 90 percent increase in views over the previous year, with a little over two months left of the campaign. Traffic to the Discover Boating websites (www.discoverboating.com and www.discoverboating.ca) has seen an approximate 17 percent increase YOY and there has been a nearly 60 percent increase of manufacturer referrals YOY in the same period.

Discover Boating also launched its paid advertising campaign on Instagram last month using snippets of its Stories of Discovery videos. While the campaign is still new, Discover Boating doubled its number of followers in its first two weeks after the launch.

“The comments and the sentiment from what we’re seeing from fans on Instagram has also been really positive, and we’re kind of waiting to see what the overall reach is,” said Ellen Hopkins, vice president of marketing and communications at Discover Boating.

As the marketing campaign prepares for its close at the end of September, Discover Boating will be hosting a Summer Boat Camp on July 22 and 23 for media outlets that will include fishing, water sports, PWC and other educational opportunities about the boating lifestyle. Discover Boating has already achieved a number of public relations successes in 2015, from a three-page spread in the June issue of Men’s Health to a segment on the morning show Fox and Friends.

A seamless partnership

The Stories of Discovery are a significant portion of the campaign, one of which features Owen from 2014. In 2015, Owen has partnered with Discover Boating on a number of different social media initiatives and exclusive content.

“One of the reasons that we are working with Jake again this year is not only is he a natural boating ambassador, because he genuinely loves boating, but he has such a significant and loyal fan base that really work well with our target audience, and we’re able to reach so many more people with our messaging by working with Jake,” said Hopkins. “He’s been a great ambassador for us in helping us to do different media interviews, working with a lot of top-tier outlets.”

This exclusive content includes blog posts on the Discover Boating website, fan experience days that gain national media coverage, live twitter Q&As to discuss boating with followers and more. As the marketing campaign continues, Owen will be taking over Discover Boating’s Instagram page later this year and promoting the takeover on his own page.

What makes the partnership between Owen and Discover Boating such a significant relationship for the industry is how the campaign is able to leverage Owen’s growing and dedicated fan base on social media. When Rolling Stone recently covered Owen’s fan experience day on the water, the article was shared on the magazine’s Facebook page, which Owen in turn shared on his own. As a result, the article has generated a significant number of likes and shares from Facebook users.

“The engagement and the awareness that we’re generating for Discover Boating and for boating by working with Jake has really helped us elevate, from a number of consumers standpoint, how many people we’re reaching,” said Hopkins.

Owen shares Discover Boating content on his social media channels, such as this Instagram photo from the most recent fan experience day in Nashville, which garner a significant number of likes.

Owen shares Discover Boating content on his social media channels, such as this Instagram photo from the most recent fan experience day in Nashville, which garner a significant number of likes.

Even more key to the partnership, however, is how naturally it comes together. Owen has been an avid boater all his life and he said the work he is doing with Discover Boating is “such a good fit.”

“It just seems to work out seamlessly for us to work together because of how much truth lies in what I’m preaching about boating,” said Owen. “I feel lucky to have a platform, which is a major responsibility as well, where people listen to what I have to say.”

Owen’s story is one that matches many lifelong boaters. He and his twin brother Jarrod grew up around boats thanks to his dad, and when they were 14 their dad surprised them with their own 13-foot Boston Whaler with teak wooden seats and a 40 hp Johnson outboard. It was on this boat they learned how to drive and care for their own vessel. Once Owen had a record deal and an income of his own, he knew he needed to buy a boat.

“The minute I bought my boat and I hooked it up to my truck,” said Owen, “and I saw it in my rearview mirror pulling it down the boat, I realized ‘Oh my God, that’s my boat back there behind me.’”

This story is indicative of the importance in engaging new boaters, sharing stories and experiencing “aha” moments that lead consumers to purchase a boat in their adulthood.

In order to help inspire his fans to have those same “aha” moments, Owen has been very open about how large of an impact boating has on his life and he believes the content he has created with Discover Boating is key because of how much information it provides for new and experienced boaters.

“There’s something about no matter who you are [or] what you do, when you’re out on the lake and out on a boat, everybody is friends,” said Owen. “When you pass someone on a boat, everyone waves. You don’t see that in a car. People aren’t in a hurry out there so much, they’re just out there to enjoy their day and hope you do [too], and that’s what I think I love about [boating] and showing that through these [exclusive content pieces] I work on with [Discover Boating].”

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