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Boat show season just in time

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I call it the fall boat show tour and it’s about to get started. It will begin on the Great Lakes at Michigan City in late August and wind up at Ft. Lauderdale in November. In between there are major “stops” in many places from Rhode Island to Seattle, Texas to Maryland.
This year’s fall boat shows couldn’t come at a better time. I’m referring to the fact that with boat sales having been disappointing this summer, the fall boat shows now hold the most promise of moving out non-currents and, hopefully, even jump starting our 2008 models.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying the fall boat shows will create a market that doesn’t exist. Sadly, no boat show can do that. However, if my 34 years of producing over 100 boat shows has taught me anything, they’ve clearly demonstrated that shows will draw in whatever market does exist, putting us face-to-face with large numbers of genuine prospects. We know when and where they will be. It’s why the majority of buyers surveyed by J.D. Powers identified boat shows as their #1 source of information.
Truth is no other promotional medium can do that, not one. Not TV, radio, magazines, newspapers, not even the internet which, incidentally, was cited by only 32% of the J.D. Powers survey respondents as a key source of information. All of those media are only 2 dimensional and not interactive. An exhibit at a show, on the other hand, is 3 dimensional, direct contact promotion.
Finally, a boat show has drawing power because it combines and coordinates the money and attraction of many. No dealer could ever reach such a level alone. So, love ‘em or hate ‘em, if there is a good fall boat show in your market area, you need to be in it. Until we can find a better way to place our products, sales people and prospects nose-to-nose, boat shows will remain the single most powerful weapon in our retail marketing arsenal.
That’s the way I see it, how about you?



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