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Dealers should identify stores with Discover Boating brand

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The NMMA’s president, Thom Dammrich, addressed the Lake Erie Marine Trades Association’s annual meeting last week and, as anticipated, he talked about the progress of the Grow Boating Initiative.

In high energy fashion, he up-dated the audience on the growing success of the program and offered a sneak preview of what’s in store for 2008.

The 2008 program details will be fully unveiled at the Miami Boat Show. The Grow Boating Initiative special meeting is slated for Wednesday, February 13, in the Miami Beach Convention Center, at 3:30 p.m. I urge everyone in Miami to attend this important presentation.

Indications of Grow Boating’s building momentum are very real. For example, on the dealer side, there are now 602 dealerships enrolled in the marine industry dealership certification program. Of those, 346 have completed the certification process and 256 are on their way. On the manufacturer’s side, there are now 270 boat brands with NMMA Certification, up 50% in 2007. In effect, over 90% of all boat brands built in the U.S. is now certified. Boat trailer builders are also moving quickly with 30 manufacturers certified and 15 more in process.

Everyone in the industry should want to get the progress report. After all, we are spending upwards of $13 million annually to Grow Boating and we’re staking much of our future on its long-term market impact.

But, after Dammrich left I began wondering just how tuned in the Cleveland area dealers really were to Grow Boating and, particularly, the Discover Boating marketing campaign. So, I started asking around. While all dealers knew about the program, nearly all admitted they’d done little to capitalize on it. For example, no one used the Discover Boating logo in their ads. No one displayed the Discover Boating window clings or posters around their stores. No one has used any of the available direct mail pieces or ad layouts. On the bright side, several do follow up on hot leads sent by their manufacturers.

Obviously, most dealers are not taking advantage of the materials available to directly participate in the Discover Boating effort. That’s hard for me to understand, given the fact millions of dollars are spent to make the Discover Boating brand widely recognized. Dealers need to do more than just follow up on leads. There is a direct benefit by cashing in on the Discover Boating message.

That’s done by identifying showrooms with the brand. If a prospect is convinced by the Discover Boating national ads to look at boating, doesn’t it make sense to have those prospects immediately see your dealership as a Discover Boating center? It’s easily accomplished by using the materials available.

Today, go to www.growboating.org, register as a stakeholder, examine and order materials that will turn your showroom into a Discover Boating center. Remember, you’ll have a multi-million dollar ad program behind you.

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