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MMA addresses major concern of women

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Kudos to the Marine Marketers of America (MMA) for identifying a growing problem for women in boating and creating a program that could help dealers address it.

This summer the MMA, through its Pro Bono Committee, will launch a pilot boating education program tailored specifically for women boaters. The dealer-initiated program will teach the basic principles of boating safety and boat handling. It will be tested in five dealerships across the country this year, with a national rollout expected in 2009.

But, wait -- there are already many boating safety classes available, so why do we need another one, you may be asking. According to Committee co-chairman John Wisse, “Our research shows there is a pressing need for an educational program to give women the skills and confidence to operate a boat safely. Many women are very concerned that they might not be able to bring a boat back safely if their male companion is disabled out on the water,” he added.

I agree, particularly in light of our aging society. In fact, I am evidence that this concern is real.

In the last couple of years, I sensed my wife was becoming more reluctant to make those long off-shore runs for fishing or cruising that we’d been doing, together, for more than 30 years. When she finally opened up about it, she revealed she’d become increasingly fearful that she couldn’t get the boat back to shore if something happened to me out there! Frankly, her fear had never crossed my mind before but, clearly, it needs to be addressed if we’re to continue to enjoy the boat the way we always have.

The MMA’s effort to focus on this need is timely and potentially could make a difference between keeping boaters and losing them when such fears increase with age.

Dealers selected for the pilot program are Atlanta Marine (Atlanta), Basa’s Marine (Chicago), Boat Tree (Orlando), Land N’ Sea (Cincinnati) and Gander Mountain (Dayton). Committee members will work closely with each dealer location to develop, fine-tune, implement and evaluate the training program this summer.

Buckeye Marine, which has developed and implemented an effective women’s educational program in Toronto, is serving as a project consultant. The MMA will provide dealers with a turnkey marketing tool kit that includes branding guidelines, logos, taglines, advertising slicks, direct mailers, brochure templates, press kits and other promotional materials, as well as guidelines for course curriculum and instruction.

The MMA is a professional development organization working to enhance the success of marketing and communications professionals in the boating industry. Members of the Pro Bono Committee are John Wisse, Ohio Division of Watercraft; Jim Rhodes, Rhodes Communications; Jean Tikusis, Ken Cook Co.; Derek Robinson, Glen Raven Custom Fabrics; and Capt. Mark Kellum, Kenton Smith Advertising & Public Relations.

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