Episode 4 – How To Keep Your Boating Business Running Smoothly During COVID-19

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COVID-19 is affecting every boating business, and Boat Marketing Pros wants to help you through it! We’re giving some resources to help keep your boating business running smoothly through the COVID-19 outbreak. And how you can utilize digital tools to improve communication with your customers.

In this podcast, Harry Casimir, the CEO of Boat Marketing Pros & Atilus, is sitting down with Sydney Fahrenbruch, Digital Marketing Manager, to break down marketing your boating business through COVID to keep your boating business thriving.

Read the transcript below, transcribed by https://otter.ai

Harry

Hello, welcome to the Boat Marketing Podcast. Today we have a pretty cool, interesting topic we’re going to cover. It is all going to be about the current Coronavirus, COVID-19. We want to kind of go over some of the things that you can do as a boating business, primarily, especially as a boat dealer or boat rental to keep your boating business running in this current climate/situation.

And so without further ado, let me introduce you to my guest today is Sydney Fahrenbruch, she’s A Digital Marketing Manager at Atilus & Boat Marketing Pros and she’s gonna really give us some of the key elements, her and I are going to just go back and forth discussing some of the key things that you can do to ensure that your boating business continues to run until the COVID-19 situation settles down a bit.

So, Sydney so I guess this thing has just really escalated to a very high level now. I guess we’ll just begin. COVID-19 has been around a little bit, but it got very serious overnight. So tell us a little bit – what do you see as an internet marketer? And what are the things that you think you see, for a boat dealer or for that matter, any boating business owner? What are the things that you can do now to ensure that you continue to run, and also kind of build authority?

Sydney

Yeah, so it’s definitely a difficult time for businesses in general. But when it comes to the boating industry, and the marine industry, I think boating businesses are kind of in a unique position. Because specifically for boat dealers, I mean, going out on your boat is one of the activities that you kind of can do safely as long as you’re following all the social distancing guidelines. So when it comes to sales, and when it comes to service there is a need for that. And a lot of rentals and boat clubs are still operating. So I think this industry is still in a good position to kind of get through this. But there are some specific things that you can do, just in terms of your marketing strategy and how you communicate to adjust to this time.

So that is why probably my first recommendation is if you are open and you operating as normal or operating close to normal with a few changes – to just make sure you use your online presence to communicate that. So, if you’re doing maybe something like mobile service, or a no-contact service, if you’re doing things like private trials, or private consultations, or maybe even virtual constant consultations, things you can do to make adjustments to be more just cautious during this time and then to communicate that to your customers. If you are doing like extra sanitation or things like that. Just kind of consider doing things like that, and make sure that you are communicating that.

As well as right now, if people want to browse your inventory of what you have, using the website is a great way to do that during this time, they don’t have to come into your dealership until they’re ready to take that next step or something like that, they can look online. So it’s a great way to promote that promote people going to the website.

Harry

Cool Awesome. So I guess kind of what are the things that, if you are to be able to break this down in terms of from a digital marketing perspective? Some of the key things that the boating business owner, the current marketing person, or a general manage  can do to ensure communication and tells customers if you are open. What are the other things that they need to be aware of and make sure those are well communicated? But also ensure that the business continuity is in place.

Sydney

So as far as that I kind of broke it down into a few different areas to focus on.

So one of the first ones we can talk about is your pay per click or, digital advertising. A knee jerk reaction that we are seeing a lot over the last couple weeks now that this has started is a lot of people say, I want to scale back my budget, I want to pause all my ads, you know, just because, they’re afraid they’re not going to get as much business and they’re not going to be able to afford that advertising.

However, we recommend maintaining your marketing budget and your ad strategy that you’re doing. Because cutting costs might give you a little bit of a temporary profit gain in the sense that you’re not spending as much. But with the pay per click ads, particularly in Google or in Bing, you only are paying when someone clicks on your ad, hence the name pay per click.

You’re only paying for those clicks that are getting in front of those searches of keywords that you’re bidding on – people searching for boat dealer near me, people searching for boats for sale, people searching for this specific brand of boats you have. It really is cost-effective in that way, that you’re not spending the money unless you’re getting in front of the right person and it will keep your brand you visible during that time and maintain your presence in the industry.

We recommend to really, when it comes to your paid ads, keep things running as you normally would, assuming your business is still operating. And whatever adjustments you have to make, whether that is instead of offering an in-person sales consultation like you would offer a virtual consultation instead or something like that, you can make those adjustments as you need. You can even make adjustments to your ad copy to call out that you are offering special things like that, or call out that you are open during that time. But in terms of the keywords that you’re bidding on and the budget that you’re putting out there, I would say keep things running the same if you want to keep you know your business running at the same level.

Harry

That’s great. Now, what can one do in a situation where – well, let me step back in that question. Because the way the country is set right now, again, we’re recording this in early April 2020. And not the whole country is shut down – each state, and each county and sometimes they municipalities, city, say how certain things will operate. So there are parts in the country right now where a dealer or boat rental doesn’t operate at all, whereas the other counties are still operating because it just nothing is close yet.

That really put most of our dealers in a really strange spot. But if from a marketing perspective, and I agree, Sydney and it’s one of those things that we have seen where it’s easy to say – well, this thing is going down, customers not are gonna come and buy. And that could be true, but as I’m not an economist, but if we could compare this to what we saw in 2008 – these are two different timelines, two different situations because in 2008 the financial system collapsed.

This current situation is becoming an economic issue, but it wasn’t that way when it first started. It was just a medical issue that just ravaged the world. It continues to be a medical issue, not an economic issue. That’s why I believe that this is gonna bounce back. And when it does, it’s gonna bounce back fast. What’s more important for me from a business perspective is that consumers going on just hit the ground and run and come out of the woodwork.

If you’re not closing right now at this time, this is why I also believe your marketing budget should stay intact. Or if anything works with your agency, or if you do this in-house, is shift it a little bit. And I know Sydney gonna talk about some of the other pieces in your marketing plan that you can shift. But don’t cut your budget overnight just because you think, well people won’t come now. There are times you might have to do that, but it’s a bit too early now especially if your states, or where you are people still able to go out and boat.

We know as we speak right now there are dealers that killing it that’s making sales, and people buying boats and some of those big deal obviously some of them may have been in the queue. But we know there are dealers, getting solid leads coming in from everywhere and those leads did not just come out of nowhere. It’s because those websites are running ads, they’re running lead generation system.

So at the end of the day, if you must break down, cut down in marketing, I think Sydney would agree with this, I would highly suggest that don’t cut it all the way. More of shifting resources to certain places.

Second there in terms of where can I spend this money to ensure that after this thing is, I am going to be in a better spot, than where I was before. Keep in mind your competitors right now is probably cutting back and because of the nature of this, someone that maybe one city or two cities away from you, they might have to shut down the doors and close everything down because of the municipality law for them. Whereas where you are you may be open, and so that could be a good advantage for you to be in front of those customers.

So that’s my talk about maintaining the marketing budget, so what is the next thing that can be done when it comes to continuing running your boating business?

Sydney

Yeah, so like you said, obviously, ideally, you can maintain your budget and keep it the same but things are changing every day right now currently, some places have stay at home order, some places are just practicing social distancing. So there’s a lot that can change but we recommend doing everything you can to keep things running as close to normal as possible to just maintain that presence but make the adjustments when you can where it makes sense.

It really it could change tomorrow for all we know, but it’s important as a boating business owner to keep things running as usual and some may say, what is and what isn’t an essential business – but at this time going out on the boat is a great way for people to get away from the crowds and be with their own household and be with their own family, but still get outside and do something that they enjoy. So, it is a really great industry to provide support for people during this time, even if it is in a recreational way.

We talked about ads, and pay per click. The next thing I want to talk about is really just communication, which we did talk about a little bit in the beginning when I said the things you can do to let your audience know what you’re doing. But there are just a couple things to make sure of because, really, at this time most people are at home they have their computer, they have their cell phone. Search engines and social media really is the place where a lot of people are going for information. So just to kind of make sure that you are covering all those channels. If you’re changing any business hours or operations, put together some kind of message for your customers to let them know what’s going on with your business.

I’m sure a lot of you have gotten those letters from the CEO emails in your inbox, which some of them can be kind of annoying sometimes. But if it is a boating business that you interact with and you care about, you kind of want to know what’s going on with them. So you can kind of put something together, throw it up on your blog, push it out through social media, make sure you’re using Google My Business to post anything on there. So just kind of making sure that you are covering all channels that you can to communicate with your customers and push out any important information.

And then, like we talked about with the search engines, now is a good time to focus on your SEO for your website. So that is another big thing that you could put time into now.

Harry

That’s fantastic. And one other thing I know earlier when we talk, do you want to we want to create one podcast dedicated just for SEO for the COVID-19 correct?

Sydney

Yeah. So we’ll kind of touch on it a little bit now. But basically, when we talk about SEO, it’s very big and it’s very, almost hard to understand all the time. Just because it’s not the same as pay per click where, okay, you know, I set up my campaigns, I let them run, and they’re there, and that’s what it is. SEO is really more of an all-encompassing thing, that has a bunch of different elements, it’s like a big umbrella that has a bunch of different things under it that kind of all help to boost your organic ranking. So it’s more of a process.

In terms of seeing good results for SEO, it usually does take a while. We usually say around six months as a baseline but can even go up from there. So if you are someone who maybe has a little bit of extra time because the foot traffic into your store is slowing down, or you just want to take this time to invest on the future gains that you might have – this would be a good time to really start focusing on SEO. Doing things like blogging, updating your content, doing technical audits of the site, so that when things start to change in our world normalcy starts to return and people are going out more, you will see that lift, and rankings start to gain momentum at that time.

So we are going to do another episode where we go more in-depth on the things that you can do. But that is something to kind of just keep in mind.

Harry

That’s fantastic. And one of the things that if I can echo Sydney for a second, and I know we’re gonna uncover this topic in detail in another episode of the podcast, but if I can echo this, what she just said is, if you think of SEO, it’s almost like running a marathon. It’s not a sprint, because it doesn’t come, you don’t get ranked overnight, it takes a bit. So therefore it is important that maybe if your SEO been lagging, for lack of a better word, or you haven’t put much time into it, this could be a good opportunity for you

Given that the way this thing has been going for or the last few months, it’s going to last for another two months or three months and by then hopefully you can make headway in SEO. So that is why it isn’t, that’s something you shouldn’t ignore whether you doing this in house, by yourself, with your team or having an agency you work with that helps make sure that you are really the best you can be from an SEO perspective.

Now, transitioning from SEO, so we know we make sure we maintain our marketing budgets and keep things flowing, making sure we communicate to both social media and the website we ensure that we have our SEO game plan ready. What is the next thing that a boat dealer should do to ensure that they continue operation, for both consumers but also get a better footing in the digital world?

Sydney

Yeah, so the last thing that I really want to touch on which you kind of talked about a little bit earlier and it kind of weaves into all the different things that we talked about, but it’s really just to kind of stay on top of your local communities regulations and guidelines. And then kind of incorporate that into everything you’re doing on the digital front.

So like we said things are changing every day. Some places have shelter in place, some places don’t. So you really as a business owner, and just a member of whatever community you are in to really stay on top of that is important, because like we said, boating is a great way to practice social distancing. And as a part of the boating and marine industry, as business owners, you kind of have to promote and push for your customers to do that safely, to allow them to still be able to do that.

So just stay on top of whatever your local government is saying. Make sure whatever messaging that you’re pushing out is in line with what the government officials are asking the community to do. I know personally, where we are in Florida, a sheriff’s office in one of the nearby counties released a statement of six guidelines for safe boating. This was to say, we’re currently keeping waterways open, but please try to practice these things to maintain social distancing.

So if you have something like that in your community, make sure you’re on top of it. You can utilize that, whether it’s on social media or your blog. Push that messaging out to your customers. Like we say, it’s good to always be a resource to your customers. So by utilizing whatever’s going on in the community, you can become a resource for your customers as well.

Harry

That’s fantastic. And really, if I can, again, echo what she just said, as a business, in the community that you serve, we know we get very, extremely busy and an occupy with our daily day to day tasks, and we forget that sometimes, but at the end of the day, we’re all part of this community and we all in this together.

And this thing is, I wouldn’t say temporary, but it’s not forever. So it’s gonna go away eventually. And when things come back to normalcy you want to be in front of, and in those people’s minds, that when they start buying and thinking of buying. One of the ways you can do that is to ensure to you give, become a resource for the community or for people that come to your site, as Sydney said, not just posting a blog post, but give these guidelines that does get pushed out by the government. You can use posts on your website about something that was just pushed out this morning by the commissioners or by the county or by the city, and here are the things that are available right now or again in the future.

And you can even create a video, two to three-minute videos. Tell them what’s going on, that day. What you’ve done, when you plan on closing, and what are the current situation looks like. Make sure that you put a date on it, as things are changing day by day in most parts of the country. Make sure you mention the date,  just in case things change from when that video is published or when they’re looking at it.

But again, becoming a resource to the online community for the potential customer that looking for more information. Again, most people are on their computers right now, on the phone. People can only do so much by just sitting there without touching a computer or phone to find more information. Eventually, they do, and that’s where you become a resource for them.

So, with that, I guess my last question for you. Is there’s anything else you would like to add to this or any additional notes you have?

Sydney

I think that covers everything that I wanted to talk about. Like I said, we are going to do another episode where we talk a little more in-depth on the SEO strategy and how you can implement that. Things are changing every day. But I think obviously, we want to do everything we can to protect the community. Make sure that those who are at risk and those around us are going to be healthy. We’re going to help people. While we should stay inside and practice social distancing , it’s important to do whatever we can to maintain a sense of normalcy in the world. If we are lucky enough to be part of a boating business that can still thrive and maintain everything in this state.

It’s important for us and for anyone in the boating industry to do what they can because we all are part of this economy and it is going to have an effect on everything. So you know, I just think that’s important. And that’s why we want to help dealers and anyone in the marine industry do what they can to keep things running as usual. So I think that’s important to remember.

Harry

That’s fantastic. Well, thank you so much, Sydney. Well, we have a wrap and again guys, as you know, we conclude this show every time is we would love to hear from you. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to drop us a note.

Visit our website for more information on our podcast by going to www.boatmarketingpros.com/podcast. If you have any tips, any other subject you would like us to cover on this show. Any other questions, comments, anything, feel free to email us at [email protected] we would love to hear from you and until next time, thank you for stopping by.

Published: April 24,2020
Category: Podcasts, SEO
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