Inspiration, yes. But perspiration, too

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This year’s summit had a record turnout.

This year’s summit had a record turnout.

More than 175 marine industry members attended the Grow Boating Marketing Summit, a special event at this year’s International BoatBuilders’ Exhibition and Conference held in Tampa, Fla., last week.

A panel of marketing and research experts provided insights on the digital marketplace and provided strategies to help businesses boost their sales. Attendees included boat, engine and accessory manufacturers plus dealers, boat club representatives and recreational boating industry service providers.

“Summit attendance has grown from approximately 75 people in its first year to more than 175 in its third,” Carl Blackwell, Grow Boating president, said in a statement. “We stacked our speaker lineup this year with experts who could both inspire and provide practical insights that could be applied to attendees’ business today. I know the Discover Boating team walked away from this meeting learning a lot.”

He continued, “Marketing in today’s evolving digital world has changed consumer expectations, so we are doing our part to bring this critical information to the forefront for marine marketers to help us all understand the new tools and strategies to effectively attract potential boat buyers.”

During an exclusive interview with Trade Only Today, Blackwell said summit organizers wanted the speakers to inspire, but they wanted something else, too. “We wanted them to focus on perspiration, too,” he said. “We wanted people to walk out with things to do.”

Blackwell said he was enthusiastic about the infusion of young people in marketing roles across the industry, while also providing the opportunity to learn from established veterans. “There’s a transition that’s going to take place over the next five to 10 years,” he said. “The younger audience is more adept at the digital components, but we boomers still have a lot to offer. So the Summit was a nice blend. We have got some great leaders out there now and we’ll be in good hands going forward.”

Summit presentations outlined how to market to the next wave of boaters by leveraging digital marketing channels including display ads, video, social media, email, search and websites.

The speaker line-up included Jack Ellis from Info-Link, Marcus Sheridan of the Sales Lion, Findability University’s Heather Lutze, Steve Pizzolato from the Avala Marketing Group and Julie Hagemann from ICF Next and Facebook marketing expert Mari Smith.

Recordings of all the presentations can be found at

Takeaways from the summit reinforced strategies for the importance of getting younger generations involved in boating immediately and optimizing search results and adjusting content accordingly including using video content and creating a Facebook group.

“Marketing to new boaters is the future of the success of the marine industry,” said Joe Lewis, general manager, Mount Dora Boating Center & Marina, in the statement. “With this summit, we are able to bring together the best minds in the marine marketing landscape and provide relevant information that helps their mission. All the speakers are engaging, knowledgeable on the current digital marketing techniques and they provide attendees with actionable items that can be implemented tomorrow.”

Added Katie Freeburn, digital marketing specialist, Boston Whaler: “There’s no other summit like this in our industry so it’s beneficial to hear from others within our industry about the trends they’re seeing and things they’re doing that we may not be doing. This is the second year I’ve attended the summit and each time I have left with several actionable items that I can implement when I get back to the office.”


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