If you follow Dealer Outlook, you already know I’m a big believer in our industry’s Discover Boating campaign. And when I see multiple morning segments on the nation’s No. 1 cable news network touting how great boating is, it reminds me most dealers probably don’t see the continuous work the Discover Boating team does to draw people to our boating lifestyle.
Over the weekend, the national morning TV show “Fox & Friends” featured a variety of ways to get on the water. Out on the Fox plaza in the heart of New York City, Discover Boating assembled a Yamaha WaveRunner, a Bennington Pontoon, a Super Air Nautique G25 and a Regulator 28 center console.
More than 1.8 million viewers watched Discover Boating spokeswoman Carrie Waible describe the many ways to get started in boating. She was handpicked for the assignment because she knows boating and is excellent on camera.
Waible expertly handled the affordability issue and encouraged people to explore the Boat Selector Tool found on DiscoverBoating.com. Meanwhile, written across the bottom of the screen was the message: “Get Out on a Boat with Family and Friends.” Can’t get much better than that.
But TV exposure doesn’t just happen. There is always someone behind the scenes working to secure that kind of opportunity and arrange the often-complicated logistics that go with it. In this case, it was senior public relations manager Colleen Richardson and the Discover Boating team in Chicago that assembled the event. And, while it’s a dramatic example of the work the Discover Boating team does, it’s important to recognize that a big TV shot like this is just a blip on the screen of all that Discover Boating does for the industry.
I had a chance recently to see Richardson manage a Discover Boating photo shoot. It was hours of non-stop shooting to capture the excitement of boating and fishing from every possible angle, and it even included getting aerial shots by launching and recovering a drone and flying it to chase another boat moving at 25 MPH.
My point is this: From continually updating the enormous Discover Boating portal website to the successful boat manufacturer referral program; from the production of great tools dealers can use, like the “Stories of Discovery” series, to boating feature articles in newspapers, magazines, broadcast and digital media nationwide; Discover Boating is a daily effort to grow boat sales that no manufacturers or dealers could undertake alone.
And that brings me to a very important point: Discover Boating is underfunded. This should shock you: the funding formula has remained unchanged for more than a decade now. Current funding works out to about one -tenth of 1 percent of retails sales.
The fact is a mere 20-25 percent increase in the Discover Boating assessment would just about equal inflation during the last decade. Moreover, it would put Discover Boating commercials back on national TV where we are, frankly, getting our sterns kicked by the RV industry that’s spending nearly three times the money we are. Am I the only one sick of seeing Go RVing ads and TV programs about how great RVing is? Still, we know that’s a big reason the RV industry is setting sales records and we’re . . . well, you know.
An honest conversation about increasing Discover Boating funding needs to happen now.