At New Years, hope springs eternal! I can’t think of anything more promising than the industry’s renewal of its commitment to the growth of boating by fully reinstating the Grow Boating horsepower assessments. The goal: to reignite the Discover Boating campaign in 2011.

It’s not that DB ever disappeared since it all began in 2006. It was going full throttle until the great recession triggered a decision to reduce its funding by 85 percent in 2009. The campaign has continued with some very clever and successful uses of the remaining funds using the Internet and social media. But it’s time to move forward again with a full game plan.

While DB has had some detractors, the overwhelming majority of the industry has been behind it from the start. Its base funding, ultimately paid by the consumer, is a simple and straight forward device. And, while it’s important that in the renewed program ahead any industry segment that hadn’t contributed directly to DB now get involved, the importance of reinstating full funding at this time cannot be overstated.

First, when DB was created, it unified all levels of the industry as never before. It played no favorites. It was carefully designed to raise the tide for all “ships.” It improved our products and customer services. It was rolling nationally with great momentum when the recession hit it. But the results it achieved were undeniable.

Second, we have a long road to travel back to even pre-recession sales levels, never mind growth above that. The latter, as I recall, is what we anticipated DB would stimulate before the crash! A national integrated marketing campaign for boating is a critical component to rebuilding our industry. It can do no less than accelerate our recovery.

The restored funding assessments are expected to provide $4.5 million this year, substantially less than in 2006-2009. It will increase as sales increase and other segments of the industry get involved. Still, this amount of funding will provide for significant enhancements to, the anchor for the public awareness campaign. It will also: Allow expanded lead generation and related systems to provide more consumer data to dealers and manufacturers; boost consumer reach through digital, social, search and mass media; step up public relations impact and support; and expand the Five Star Dealership Certification program.

Finally, in case you’ve overlooked it, here are some highlights of what DB has accomplished up to now, even after its funding was reduced:

- More than 500,000 direct referrals from to boat builders’ websites
- DB generated more than 190,000 prospects with 19,276 having purchased boats
- An estimated 14,000 boats sold to first-time boaters who each, according to Michigan State University, will make $131,000 worth of boat and engine purchases over their lifetime (that’s $1.84 billion in lifetime boat sales!)

There’s a lot more valuable information at Start off the New Year by getting up to speed on all this entire program offers dealers and manufacturers.


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