Skip to main content

A New Year’s resolution we should all make

The announcement yesterday by the National Marine Manufacturers Association that 2013 has seen the industry continue its post-recession climb with an estimated 5 percent increase in new powerboat retail sales is good news. Or is it?

As I see it, this shouldn’t make any of us happy, particularly if we compare it to the much better RV sales recovery. What it brings to mind, however, is that the RV industry has always invested more in its future growth than has boating, and our slow 5 percent growth sends a clear signal that we need to step up.

We’re all familiar with the highly successful “GO RVing” campaign. In fact, it inspired our Discover Boating initiative. They started “Go RVing” long before we got going. They’ve enjoyed universal RV industry support. They’ve continually invested more in it (twice our entire budget on media alone). Even in the recession they never quit, while we cut our program by 85 percent. That’s resulted in great awareness for “GO RVing,” primarily because it’s on TV nationally!

We must get Discover Boating back on TV. When it was, our awareness was at 37 percent. Without TV in 2013, we have 22 percent awareness. The difference equates to a positive impact on millions more people. There’s no doubt TV reaches more people and, thus, would strengthen all other marketing efforts.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting Discover Boating isn’t currently productive. It is. Despite being underfunded, it is delivering impressive results, such as hundreds of thousands of visitors to the “Welcome to the Water” website and thousands of leads sent to manufacturers and dealers. But it’s just not enough for an industry as big as ours. It would be exponentially better if we reach a larger audience, and that means a national TV campaign.

So today’s the day for making a New Year’s resolution. Let’s resolve to make our industry growth in 2014 much better than the 5 to 7 percent being predicted. Let’s invest more in our growth and open a serious discussion right now about increasing the funding for Discover Boating.

Specifically, our target should be annual funding of at least the pre-recession $14 million. Right now, the funding is only about half that amount. We simply can’t afford to reinstitute our once successful national TV ad campaign. Unless we commit to increasing the pass-through engine horsepower fee — in addition to getting all segments of the industry to begin contributing now — we’re simply not going to get there.

It’s not complicated. Our Discover Boating campaign increases awareness. Increased awareness leads to increased participation. Increased participation leads to increased sales. The real question is: Are we willing to start by increasing the current engine horsepower pass-through fee in order to drive our sales growth to more than just 5 to 7 percent in 2014?

So let the discussion begin right now, and make it a Happy New Year.


TPG Adds to Marine Portfolio

The hospitality and marina management firm acquired Conanicut Marina and Taylor Point Boat Yard in Jamestown, R.I.

Trade Only Today Returns Jan. 18

The daily e-newsletter will not publish Monday, Jan. 17, in observation of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. We wish everyone a happy and safe holiday weekend.

ECONOMY REPORT: Omnipresent Omicron

The year closed with an uptick in consumer confidence, but the latest coronavirus variant threatens to derail progress

Mixed Reactions

Though generally positive about market conditions, many dealers report they won’t be attending boat shows.

Sportsman Boats Hires CFO

Greg House was previously chief financial officer with Sea Star Solutions and Dometic.

NMMA Reports Strong Boat Sales in 2021

Annual new powerboat sales are expected to exceed 300,000 units for the second consecutive year.

Lowrance Releases Software Update

The software release enables a new sonar feature and autopilot compatibility for Ghost trolling motors and Ghost-compatible MFDs.

Keeping the Sales Team Motivated and Sharp

Here are some strategies from the “Undisputed King of Motivation,” Zig Ziglar, for sales success before, during and after the transaction.

Retired CG Officer Joins Commonwealth PR

Chad Saylor, who served as a public affairs officer, is an account executive with the Virginia-based public relations and marketing firm.