Discover Boating reaches out

I enjoyed reading your article entitled “Marketing Initiative Gains Momentum,” (September/October issue, page 26), but I would like to update you on initiatives that the Discover Boating Program is involved in. In your article, it was reported that Discover Boating “just tags along at boat shows,” but that is not the case. The Discover Boating Program has grown tremendously in the past five years. This year alone we are participating in more than 100 events including state fairs, NASCAR races, seafood festivals and home shows. In fact, 70 percent of the events that NMMA and Marine Trade Association Partners are participating in this year are non-boatshow events, and many include boat demos.
In 2003 we have engaged nearly 40,000 people in lengthy conversations to help them through the process of becoming boaters. In September, the Discover Boating Center participated in the Maryland Seafood Festival in Annapolis, Md. Eight local dealers brought in 16 boats and offered nearly 300 demo rides. Every dealer garnered multiple leads and several boats were sold on the spot. In fact, one participant shut down his dealership and brought his entire team to the festival to capitalize on the demand. This is just one example of Discover Boating events happening virtually every weekend across the country.
At boat shows, Discover Boating Centers play a different role — acting as a safe harbor for people to gather useful unbiased information on which boat fits the needs of their families.
In addition to the traveling Discover Boating Centers, this year we launched the Water Works Wonders Boating and Fishing Experience, sponsored in part by RBFF, Brunswick, the Luhrs Group, Boaters World, Yamaha,, Forever Resorts, Polaris, Humminbird, Attwood, Okuma, Tracker, Engineered Plastic Systems, and Plano. This 48-foot semi trailer is converted into a “mini marina,” that simulates the boating and fishing experience. This five-month tour promotes boating, fishing and aquatic stewardship across the United States, and is another outreach effort of the Discover Boating Program.
We have reached millions more through national publicity including a six-minute segment on the “Today Show,” features on CNBC, CNN, and Fox News, plus a six-page layout in Men’s Journal, stories in Popular Mechanics and many more.
The Discover Boating Program has also begun a process of gathering, cultivating, processing and disseminating information. For example, after attending the Kentucky State Fair where we talked to more than 11,000 people, we compiled a list of 800 qualified leads, all of whom asked for more information on how to get started in boating. We invited these families to participate in a VIP Discover Boating Demo Day. The day included information, entertainment, refreshments and opportunities to try out different types of boats. Ten local dealers brought an assortment of boats to this select group. We recognize the value of cultivating and disseminating leads and want to expand our program to fulfill this crucial role in the boating industry.
The annual sports participation survey compiled by the National Sporting Goods Association shows that participation in boating increased 11.4 percent in 2002, and NMMA estimates that 72 million people went boating last year. Not only is that a steep increase, but it breaks a five-year cycle of declines in boating participation. We attribute this increase in part to the momentum of the Discover Boating Program.

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