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Selling summertime on the water

Dealers don’t sell boats. They provide vessels for great experiences. So while all dealers do this all year around, it’s fitting to recognize that this week (June 3-11) is National Boating and Fishing Week with and a chance to call special attention to the good times our industry generates.

National Boating and Fishing Week is an event that highlights the importance of recreational boating and fishing. With some schools now out for the summer, it’s a perfect time to encourage customers to get family members and friends out on the water and connect, the National Marine Manufacturers Association says.

And there might be a more compelling reason than ever to make it a point of emphasis in every dealership . . . not just this week, but every day, all summer.

I’m referring to how pervasive technology has grown in our lives. And, if the way it’s taken over the time of tweens and teens isn’t bothering every parent or grandparent, it should. That’s because teens, in particular, are now reportedly spending a whopping average of 6.5 hours per day in front of a video screen playing games, texting on smartphones and searching the Internet on an iPad.

Learning that fact gave me cause to stop and think: if a teenager sleeps about eight hours and spends eight hours at school, he or she doesn’t do much else with the rest of their day but interact with a phone or binge-watch on Netflix. And now that summer’s here, the eight hours of school time will likely transfer over to doing what?

There’s a real opportunity presented in this for dealers to prominently “sell” the message that boating and fishing provide real-time answers for getting families together and away from the electronic addiction that’s overtaken daily life. But how best to do it?

Our industry’s Discover Boating campaign (www.discoverboating.com) and the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (www.takemefishing.org) both offer helpful ideas every dealer can master with just a little effort. They range from in-store activities like clinics to teach boating and fishing to using your social media program to post pictures of families experiencing fun on the water. Remember, this should be a summer-long message program, not just for this week.

Perhaps it all could be packaged as your “Connect this Summer” campaign. The RBFF makes three great points worth picking up on signs, ads, emails, social media and all over the showroom:

* Emphasize a “Connect with your Family” theme. Sell boating is the greatest way for family members of all ages to connect, have fun and escape the video screen.

* Emphasize a “Connect with Nature” theme. Boating and fishing are wonderful opportunities for families to connect and enjoy more of nature together. And, since 90 percent of Americans live less than an hour from navigable waterways, these opportunities to connect are really only steps away.

* Emphasize a “Connect and De-stress” theme: Boating is ranked as one of the top three of all stress-relieving activities. Boats are genuine escape machines that let families disconnect from the pressures and hassles of daily life and take them to a relaxing experience.

The family boating message is real and appealing. So this week is a great time to consider retooling your sales messages for the summer just ahead.

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