Hey guys. Welcome to the Boat Marketing Podcast. The go-to resource for boat dealers, boat clubs, and other marine businesses that are looking to use digital marketing as an avenue to take their business to the next level. I’m your host Harry Casimir and this podcast has been sponsored by Boat Marketing Pros. This agency specializes in helping marine businesses increase their online visibility, increase leads, and increase sales, and eventually increase the bottom line.
Today on this episode, we’re going to explore the off-season marketing for boat dealers. We’re going to do a deep dive on some of the key things that you should be doing as a boat dealer. You should be aware of as the season going off, and so that you can be ready for the next season that’s coming up. The off-season presents a unique challenge for boat dealers, but with the right approach and the right plan in place, I believe that any dealers actually, even when it is off-season time, you can continue to prepare yourself or even thrive within the off-season, so that you can keep your team engaged and fully working. So let’s set sail into this episode and discover how to leverage digital marketing to keep your boat dealers at the forefront. As the season approaches,
depending where you are, especially in the United States, or maybe Canada, depending on where you are season based on the region, it is very essential as a boat dealer to learn how to adapt and adjust your different marketing strategies so that you can continue to maintain not only the presence in your local community, but also your online visibility. Keeping your existing customer base engaged, but also making sure those potential customers that will be ready to do business with you, when they’re ready or when the off-season is ready, they can already familiarize themselves with your approach. So let’s talk about some of the most effective off-season marketing strategies that can help you. And some of them are really straightforward and these are the strategies that you can apply, one for you can do yourself if you’re inclined to, or hand that over to one of your team members in-house that can actually go in and implement those strategies.
But also, if you are working with a digital marketing company, a web development company, you can actually reach out in making sure they help you with those elements as well. First, leveraging social media platforms. So we’re looking at Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter primarily, but also we can add LinkedIn to this as well. This is not about social media, it’s not about you, I want to say that because I run into business owners all the time in the marine industry.
“I don’t like social media, I don’t like this, I don’t like that.” Get it? But it is one of those necessary evil that you may not like. Just like in your business you may not like to do bookkeeping, but that’s how the money comes.
So you have to understand at least the basics of it and sometimes we even do it although we don’t like it. So the same thing for social media, you can look at it that way. Social media platforms can really do some very amazing things, provide an opportunity to connect directly with your potential clients and customers, and even use it depending on what part it plays and your specific marketing strategy. You can even use this to display showcasing your current boat inventories. So platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, you can really engage with customers by simply being consistent and frequently making sure you get information.
So here are some of the things that you should do, you should be aware of to do on those channels. The first thing you want to do is use one centralized calendaring system, and calendaring system means that in other agency world, they call this the editorial calendar, the content calendar. And what that does is basically outlines for the next twelve months, from January to December, here’s how content will be distributed. But in this case we are talking about the off-season. So you should already have those mapped out for the next three, four, five months, however long your season is.
Map out your content calendar and what kind of content you will be pushing out during that time. More importantly is, where are those content being published and the frequency they are being published? The only thing really required of this is really be consistent. So one, you select the channels that you’re going to use- well the profile, the network you’re going to use. In this case let’s use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and possibly even LinkedIn.
Then you have a calendar event, a content calendar you have in place so that you will determine what content will be published in January and every Monday, every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and so forth. Now you do not have to post every day. It helps, but you don’t have to. But at least do so two to three times a week so that you can have this content. You may ask what type of content should I be posting on a dealership website?
There are a ton of different content that you can post. It’s really up to you what you’re comfortable with. So your team is always working on something, whether they are repairing your boat, rehauling, repowering, whether they winning specific things or they’re doing activities together, or you have a brand new boats coming in, you’re installing a specific thing in house. Those are just to give you ideas on specific social media posts that you can pull right from your companies. I can tell you this from experience that if I were to go to a dealer right now, I can walk to your dealer and without looking at any other content from outside, I can create at least five to six pieces of content every month just from your team members, from what you are doing already.
And all of them would be great, great quality. So use the already team that you have to create those content. Now if you’re working with a digital marketing agency like Boat Marketing Pros and other businesses, they’ll most likely create additional content outside the content you provide them with so that they can continue to post. Let’s start with the editorial calendar or content calendar, knowing exactly what will be posted, when those will be posted. The next thing you should do in the off-season is email marketing.
I personally believe email marketing is probably one of the most powerful,, underutilized tools in marketing that most small businesses do not use. During the off-season you could use your email marketing as a way to not only provide regular communication with your current customer base that you have, but also allowing this customer to even interact with you sometimes, especially in off-season. So there are tons of different ways that you can keep that email campaign, the different type of email campaign that you can set out to push, to keep this customer engaged. Now you might say that, how do you go about creating an email marketing campaign? Well, email marketing should be part of your overall marketing strategy.
Inside email marketing there’s always different type of campaigns you could run including newsletters. Newsletters could be part of your email marketing campaign, and the newsletter could be something such as, if there is a new model for one of the manufacturers that you are carrying, for one of the brands you carry at your dealer. That could be a newsletter that you provide but also give tips or information every month or every other month to your existing customer base. Email marketing also allows you to craft certain messages and very targeted campaigns to keep those potential customers excited about your business or service or product. So email marketing is the perfect strategy to stay in front of your existing customers from a branding visibility, but also for the potential customers that might buy from you a month, two, three months, four or five months from now.
Because that email marketing will remind them of you, your brand, your service, and product that you are selling. So how do you go about creating compelling email content that keep potential customer engaged and make sure it’s offering? It all depend on how you set your marketing strategy. So there are seven or eight different campaigns that usually we run for email marketing, and I’m going to go over those with you very quick. So here are some of the email marketing that you can use.
Email marketing strategy that is, you can use as a business, as a dealer, to get your customer encourage or potential customer on board. And I will not be going into very specific detail for each one of them but there are eight campaigns that I usually encourage that every dealer should have 1,2,3,4 of them running at any time. One is nurture.
Nurturing is the process of keeping your brand, your service, your name, in front of the potential customers and existing customers to make sure they’re aware of you. Kind of more of a branding perspective. The next campaign you can run is post proposal. Post quote. So customers will come to you. They like the boat, they show interest, they give all their information and they walk away.
Do you have a campaign to follow up with them? That’s where post proposal comes in. Reactivation campaigns. Reactivation campaign is what it really means. You have a list of customers that have worked with you, bought from you, worked through the dealer before, get service from the dealer before, but you haven’t seen them in a while, you haven’t heard from them.
This is a perfect time to reactivate that list, to let them know, hey, possibly even give them an offer they cannot refuse to let them come in. Cancellation. Now this is something that was very big, especially that should have been big or could be big during the COVID time, because many people get frustrated. I have nothing to do with you as a dealer. There was no inventory anywhere, has nothing to do with you.
But people were canceling their custom riggings or anything they were trying to get. If they don’t get it in a week or two, they want to cancel it. You could create a cancellation for that because those people, guess what? They go to your competitor down the street. When they get there, they go back in the long line as well.
It’s not like you are the only one that had a line. Those are the things that you can actually bring those customer back and you can say, hey, I’ll bring you back and I’ll keep you in the same spot you were already in. Because if you go down the street, you’re going to lose your spot anyways. Reviews. Reviews become so critical and so important. This is another campaign you can run for your email, referrals, depending on the brand that you carry.
But referral is very big because a friend of a friend that has a boat is usually going to refer another friend that will need a boat. So keep your customers close to you and ask them for referrals. Prospecting. Prospecting is another big thing that a lot of boat dealers don’t really do. But that’s something that could be very beneficial to boat dealers if it’s done right. The thing with prospecting is that it allows you to take the existing, if you could target enough, an existing potential customer base list to target, and go do the outreach to get there.
Now, the other one is specials. The brand or manufacturer you carry might offer specials, but also you can run your own special, so make sure you have that. One of the added one, in addition to the eight campaign I just mentioned here, is a special events campaign. There’s always going to be events, boat shows going around and everything. But what if off-season, you could have your own event in-house?
I know that can be challenging for some of you guys depending on where you are in the country and depending on when you would like to do this. Because when it’s off-season that’s when people take time off. But if you can figure out how to work that out I think it would be very beneficial to run an in-house event such as, maybe open house kind of deal. I believe you could use this. You could leverage email marketing to generate more leads, eventually more sales, and eventually get your bottom line to increase.
The third thing that you can do off-season is optimizing your website. This is a perfect time, I’ve seen it over and over. When season is on it’s very hard, actually almost impossible for you, for your team to focus on anything on the website. So off-season is a very good time to look at your website to make the necessary optimization to get your website off the ground. I always say your website is probably one of the best, if not the best employee you can have.
It doesn’t complain. Open twenty-four seven, provides the information. All you have to do is take care of that website, making sure it’s optimized, it’s clear, it’s upfront. Besides, your website is your digital storefront for your dealership. So optimize it and make sure you get a very impactful website that can not only be seen and appreciated by you and your team, and represents you guys, but also a website that search engines such as Google and Bing will be able to optimize, to index on the search, so they can bring when someone search for your product or services or your dealership name, they can show it so that your competitor don’t eat your lunch.
So how do you go about making sure you optimize your website? So the first thing you want to do is do an audit on your website. There are tons of tools, too many to name off the top of my head, but SEMRUSH and Ahrefs are very well-known audit software online right now that you could use to run an audit on your website. That would be the first step. From there it’s going to tell you how many errors, how many blocks, warnings on your website and where there are places that you can create or optimize for.
So therefore, you would use that information to not only update the website but create, update the content, and enhance the user experience as well. So this is why it’s so critical to do an audit on your website at least every three months on top of the other things that you have already been doing, you should be doing every month anyways. So that you ensure that the search engines are looking at your website the way they should, and also benefit you and your team, because that’s very critical. So by focusing and optimizing your website during the summer, it also benefits you because the changes that you make now will go on and will not take effect in the next week or two. They will take a month, two, three months to really start seeing the impact of those changes.
So you want to make them as soon as possible. That’s why as soon as the off-season starts, this is the time you should just sprint to getting your website optimized, because that’s very critical. The third thing is possibly during the off-season, depending on where you are in the country, as I mentioned earlier on, the newsletter. You could either create an in house event or a virtual boat event. The reason you want to do that, no matter where you are, during the off-season, there’s always going to be plenty of time where there are no boat shows around you. So you can create your own events and also create balls around town to get people to not only see your business, but also familiarize themselves with it, with your name, with what you do, and what you offer.
The other things that you can even do from that perspective, engaging customers with open house or virtual events, is bringing a speaker that talks about a specific thing. So if you have 100 plus clients, customers in-house that bought boat from you, they don’t live too far. If you can bring them in-house, tell them there’s an open house for existing customers, here’s all the things that we can do. A few things that you can do for this particular event. The purpose of it is to stay on top of mind for those existing customers that you have.
But also you can bring a speaker, a special speaker, someone that specializes in specific things, water safety, how to navigate the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic, or how to X, Y and Z. All of those things are things that boat owners care for. You can bring an expert to do a webinar about that specific thing that provides very valuable information for those existing customers. So guess what? Next time this customer needs a boat or needs to do service, there’s no way they’re going to forget you because they will remember what you did.
So that’s why you keep them engaged by using something like that. Now the open house, as I mentioned earlier, is more of if you have a lot of customers that are local and you’re able to do so. I know open house is not for everyone because, depending on your location geographically and whether you’re able to use the current location you have, if it’s snowy out or if it’s too hot out. So there’s a lot of reason you may not be able to do open house. But that’s another avenue.
Same method, same thing with virtual, except that this one you kind of have one-on-one and your team will be able to interact with those customers that come in. Throughout this episode, we talked about examples and some real practical tips on how you can implement those strategies to get in front of those potential customers so that you are ready to navigate the world of off-season with your digital marketing, to take your boat dealers to the next level. We talked about how to utilize social media and some of the things that you should be doing. We talked about newsletters, email marketing, how you could use email marketing during the off-season to engage and keep your customer engaged.
We talked about optimizing, auditing and optimizing your website and your overall online visibility. So to ensure that by the time the season kicks off, those adjustment updates you make start paying off. And we also talked about creating events that benefit the existing customer base and potential customers so that they can participate, your team can participate, and so that you can create that true live engagement for those customers. So with that, I hope you find this episode very useful. This is a wrap for us as we wrap this episode Boat Marketing Podcast brought to you by Boatmarketingpros.com.
I hope you gained some very valuable insight into the off-season marketing strategy, that you can apply for your boat dealers. Remember, the off-season is an opportunity to connect, obviously to rest, or your team to take a break, but also to think about, how can we do better or make adjustments to increase visibility, increase leads, increase sales, and eventually increase the bottom line for next season. So let’s go get it. I hope this episode has been very useful to you. Be sure to subscribe to our podcast if you haven’t done so yet.
Whatever platform you might be on, we’re most likely there. We syndicate to Apple Podcasts, Google, Spotify, and many, many other platforms that we syndicate our content with. You can subscribe from there. If you have any questions, or comments about this podcast, feel free to email us at [email protected]. And if you want additional resources, feel free to look at boatmarketingpros.com/resources. Again, thank you so much for joining me.
I’m Harry Casimir on this episode of Boot Marketing Pros. Until next time, happy marketing and smooth sailing. Thanks.