Sailing Enjoys Great Positioning in Recent Discover Boating Initiatives
While we don’t hear as much these days on the Discover Boating front in the industry trade media, that isn’t to say there isn’t positive activity underway.
Sail America News spoke with NMMA Chief Marketing Officer Carl Blackwell about how the association is promoting boating during these economically challenged times.
“The NMMA Board of Directors voted unanimously to continue the Grow Boating program, however, given the current state of the economy they felt 85% of the funds should be redirected back to the boat brands for sales promotion activities,” he explained. “We have unanimous support versus the perception that it was dropped – that’s a big difference.”
According to Blackwell, if economic conditions improve, the board may eventually return to full assessments dependent upon future discussions at upcoming board meetings, but in the short-term, it’s high powered guerilla marketing that is keeping the campaign momentum building.
“We are very active in the social media arena, as it is very cost efficient,” said Blackwell, who cited highlights including Facebook, which now posts more than 6500 fans of Discover Boating after just four months; Twitter; and the ‘I-Discovered Boating Ad Contest’ which Blackwell says has received more entries than ever anticipated.
“The number of entries is not what’s really important, it’s the incredibly powerful impact that consumers have when viewing all the entries,” he said.
Blackwell pointed to one very well done video featuring a sailboat: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBDnlF7qA-8.
In addition, he notes that www.DiscoverBoating.com has gone through another facelift with the addition of the Social Room and features a daily boating blog.
The site also is repurposing content for dealers to enhance their own websites. Some of the new tools include affordability tools, Good Run and the Boating Guy videos that address the barriers to boating.
“The longer people stay on your site, the more likely they are to be engaged in your services,” says Blackwell.
Public relations efforts continue to be one of the most efficient marketing initiatives to promote the Discover Boating campaign.
“We’re able to reach out to the consumer in an organic way and communicate with them about why life is better with a boat. We do this with our ‘On-the-Water Media Excursions.’ We believe a boating experience helps to create a new boater. Our PR team works to take top-tier national press on the water to show them firsthand why boating is accessible, affordable and relevant to their readers/viewers,” he said.
Some recent press successes include coverage on The Today Show, Men’s Health, Outside.com, Away.com, Shape, The Early Show, Parenting, Good Morning America and others.
Of particular interest to the sailing industry, Blackwell noted that the PR team took the media out on a sailboat in Nantucket. Another special event that garnered coverage was the 400th Anniversary of the Hudson River in NYC. The PR crew celebrated with media and participated in the flotilla, gathering hundreds of boaters to help deliver the boating lifestyle message. Discover Boating teamed up with SailTime to participate in the flotilla.
Taking full advantage of the Discover Boating prospect list is another strategy currently in play. Each month, three e-mails are sent to this robust and highly targeted prospect list, including a customized sailing version, with the last e-mail featuring a strong call to action: “It’s Time For That Boat!”
Blackwell also reports that promotional partnerships have also helped to extend the Discover Boating message. Specifically, he cites participation in Treasure Chest, a leading direct response marketer reaching boaters, vacation travelers and snow skiers, with the Discover Boating campaign message reaching more than one million targeted, affluent households.
The Outdoor Channel has provided approximately $300,000 in free TV and online advertising. And, TakeMeFishing.org has included the campaign in its minor league baseball sponsorship which includes an estimated distribution of 15,000 Get Started in Boating DVDs.
As it relates to the Discover Boating DVD, distribution is down 50% from previous years, but continues to be an integral component to the campaign. Of news to the sailing industry, Blackwell notes that most of the entire Discover Sailing DVD has been integrated into the Discover Boating DVD, creating a “win-win for both organizations as significant savings have been realized.”
“Now more than ever, we need to come together as an industry to promote the boating (and sailing) lifestyle, so that when they are ready to spend again, they will turn to boating,” Blackwell concluded.