Dealer Week 2020 Takes on Diversity and Marketing

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Kelly McDonald held a session on diversity during Wednesday’s online event.

Kelly McDonald held a session on diversity during Wednesday’s online event.

Men and women have different preferences when it comes to buying, and marine dealers should keep that in mind when pitching to each.

Kelly McDonald of McDonald Marketing said during Dealer Week, the educational event and expo organized by the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas, that science has shown that women do not get overwhelmed by having tons of choices like men do.

“Women value expansive choices,” said McDonald during Wednesday’s virtual session titled “How to Recruit, Work With and Lead People Not Like You.” “I want the tangerine shirt, and I know I want that one because I looked at all 175 options.”

There’s a reason men’s clothes only come in three colors — khaki, black and navy, said McDonald.

“Two’s not enough choice for them, but four’s too much,” she said. “Men buy more electronics than anybody else, did you ever notice, the pricing is always done in groups of three. All stuff that’s heavily marketed to men — like tires — are done in threes. We have differences, and it’s OK to work with those.”

McDonald also recommended business owners meet with the local Black Chamber of Commerce in an effort to diversify staff, and to be honest.

“Say outright, ‘We recognize we’re not very diverse … and we think we can serve our community better if we have a staff that reflects the community better,’” McDonald said.

Often business owners don’t have a true grasp of how diverse their communities actually are, said McDonald.

“Most communities are way more diverse than many local residents even know — that's because they stay in their bubble,” said McDonald.

For example, one executive McDonald knows said he spent weekdays at the office and weekends on the golf course.

“I bet he doesn't see much diversity because his orbit is not very big,” said McDonald, recommending that business owners reach out to local organizations in diverse parts of town to make them aware of available jobs. “And high schools and community colleges are excellent places too.”

Marcus Sheridan stressed the importance of investing in a marketing team during the pandemic.

Marcus Sheridan stressed the importance of investing in a marketing team during the pandemic.

On Wednesday afternoon, Sam Dantzler and Marcus Sheridan discussed building a 2021 marketing plan — with or without a boat show.

Sheridan continued to press the industry to create video content on their websites, and encouraged dealers to break the mindset that a customer should call on the phone for a quote.

“We must protect this industry from attrition,” said Sheridan. “If we’re not careful in the marine space, attrition could be a problem. We’re doing great and selling tons of product, but if you’re selling the wrong product to someone” — a pontoon to someone who boats in the Long Island Sound, for example — “they’re going to be a viral video tomorrow.”

Thirty-three percent of customers want a “sales-free environment,” and that number continues to rise, said Sheridan.

“Think about a digital trend that we’ve fought that has worked out the way we wanted it to,” said Sheridan. “I can’t think of one.”

These days, 85 percent of online content is video, and it’s being consumed by shoppers of all ages, despite the notion that video is preferred by younger groups, said Sheridan.

“This is the year to finally put resources into marketing,” said Sheridan.

The MRAA handed out its Darlene Briggs Woman of the Year Award on Wednesday, honoring Sea Tow president Kristen Frohnhoefer. As the daughter of the founder, Frohnhoefer has spent over 25 years working for Sea Tow. As president, she is responsible for overseeing all internal operations including the membership program, marketing, sales, communications and call center operations. She also focuses time on business development and maintains key relationships across the marine industry.

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