Introductions to boating could lead to sales

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First – my husband and I would never have even thought about motorcycling had my good friend Jim Krueger of Mainship not given me that fateful and phenomenal spin on his Harley. As I considered the impact of his referral on my life, I couldn’t help but apply it to our market. There is supreme power in personal referral, of introducing friends to the sport and lifestyle of boating. What strategies and tactics might we consider as an industry to motivate our existing boat buyers to take their friends boating? I believe if we can get more prospects out and on the water with boating friends and family, we dramatically expand the pool and potential for sales. Suggestions?

Second, while the industry is investing in national advertising to bring awareness of boating as a recreational lifestyle option, I believe we need to create and promote a national “Learn to Boat,” “Learn to Sail” or “Learn to Fish” program directly at the dealership level to help potential prospects next-step the process. My experience at Orlando Harley-Davidson as I described in my column allowed me to easily shift from interested prospect to committed, hardcore buyer in less than two months, at a minimal initial investment. One of the key successes is the dealership’s Learn to Ride program that took me from a enthusiastic motorcycling wanna-be with absolutely no experience, to turning s-curves in a tight box within two days. Confidence fueled my passion to buy.

I know there are plenty of Coast Guard and Power Squadron courses out there, along with numerous outstanding specialty schools. However, I believe that an easy and relatively inexpensive educational link sourced directly through the dealership makes all the sense in the world. Is anyone out there doing this, or partnering with a program onsite? I’d love to know what is working to connect the dots from prospect to buyer through boating education.

Finally, do you agree we should have a nation-wide marketing component that is promoted at the grassroots dealership level? 

Wanda Kenton Smith
Kenton Smith Advertising & Public Relations