Buy a motoryacht, get a free center console

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A Massachusetts dealer is offering a two-for-one promotion to move a couple of Maritimo yachts

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Go to any grocery store, and you're likely to see a "buy one, get one free" promotion, but Oyster Harbors Marine is taking the idea to a whole new level. The Massachusetts-based dealer is offering a free Regulator with the purchase of a Maritimo yacht.

"With the world that we're all living in with the marine industry, we wanted to do something that was a little bit different," says Steve Wyman, director of sales for Alan Roche Marine, a marketing agency that is working with Oyster Harbors on the promotion. "Obviously times are tough everywhere, and we're hoping this campaign, this program, being a little bit aggressive, creative, a little out of the box, if we get it out in front of enough people, it might drive the traffic that we need to move one or both."

Oyster Harbors has a 52- and a 60-foot Maritimo, both of which are 2007 models, Wyman says. The way the offer runs, anyone buying the Maritimo 52 Cruising Motoryacht - a twin-diesel, enclosed flybridge yacht - will get a 2008 Regulator 24 FS Classic center console powered by either a single Yamaha F350 4-stroke engine or twin Yamaha F150 4-strokes.

Anyone purchasing the Maritimo 60 Cruising Motoryacht - also a twin-diesel, enclosed flybridge yacht - receives a Regulator 26 FS Classic center console with twin Yamaha F250 4-stroke engines.

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"We had these two boats, and these two boats needed a proactive, aggressive campaign like this one," says Wyman.

The Regulators retail for $122,000 to $189,000, the Maritimos for $1.5 million to $2.25 million, according to Peter Maryott, vice president of Oyster Harbors Marine. He says the dealership did not need permission from the manufacturers to run the promotion.

"I thought [the promotion] created a lot of excitement. It was something different," says Lynne Marshall, marketing manager for Oyster Harbors. "We did it to obviously stand out, rather than having the headline, 'We'll take $200,000 off.' We wanted to make a statement. We wanted to get people excited. I'm quite hopeful with the good weather here that we will see more activity."

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To get word of the promotion out, Oyster Harbors partnered with Soundings, the sister magazine of Soundings Trade Only. In addition to running a traditional display advertisement, the dealership did an e-mail blast to all subscribers, which included a special landing page announcing the promotion.

"We found that if we don't put a special offer in front of somebody in three clicks or less, our research shows that we lose those people," Wyman says.

A couple of weeks into the promotion, the landing page had received about 400 unique visitors, though no "qualified" phone activity at that stage, Wyman says. They will likely expand the promotion beyond Soundings subscribers to draw more interest.

"We obviously have got a very short seasonal window to work with, so we're really trying to make sure that we've got this in front of enough people to jump-start the activity that we need to try and move these boats," Wyman says.

Founded in 1987, Oyster Harbors Marine is based in Osterville, Mass., with additional locations in Hyannis, Mass., Portsmouth, R.I., and South Freeport, Maine. The Osterville location is also a full-service marina. Along with Regulator and Maritimo lines, it offers Cabo, Limestone, Tiara, Blue Star and Viking boats. The Five Star Certified dealer is one of 12 U.S. dealers for the Australian Maritimo line.

In addition to the buy-one-get-one promotion, the Oyster Harbors is offering, "aggressive pricing across the board" on all of its lines, Wyman says. It's also expanding its Osterville headquarters, with a significant investment being made on the service side, and taking an aggressive marketing approach at a time when others are pulling back.

"Where a lot of dealers are reeling it in, I think you can look at Oyster Harbors and realize the opposite is true," Wyman says. "We're embracing the customer base, the prospect base, with a lot of the electronic marketing we're doing - newsletters to keep people motivated to stay on the water and not get off the water. It's as much in need now as ever before to promote the lifestyle, to make sure that we're encouraging people to stay on the water and not sit this season out."

This article originally appeared in the June 2009 issue.

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