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Sail America Industry Conference speakers urge brand building

Harley-Davidson vice president of global marketing and brand Heather Malenshek started the day by sharing insights into the brand's philosophy.

Warm, sunny skies greeted more than 100 attendees in Milwaukee on Thursday for the second day of Sail America's Industry Conference as they heard from a lineup of speakers on the conference theme — "Grow Your Business, Grow the Industry."

Harley-Davidson vice president of global marketing and brand Heather Malenshek started the day by sharing insights into the brand's philosophy about the customer journey. Her message was: Plant the seed, activate the base — customers and dealers — and nurture the intenders.

"We are very clear on our brand," Malenshek said.

She discussed the company’s effort to not only maintain its historical customers, but also target urban and international markets with new products.

National Marine Manufacturers Association president Thom Dammrich said Discover Boating is generating more than 3 million referrals, or "intenders," for the boating industry, but that as an industry "we do not nurture the intenders well."

After presenting sailboat-specific information, he challenged the industry to embrace emerging markets using specific data.

Dammrich also discussed positive factors influencing the industry, including overall economic indicators and consumer confidence levels.

Conference attendees participated in breakout sessions discussing boat clubs, indirect and content marketing, small business administration and women in boating.

Marcus Sheridan finished the afternoon with humor and tricks about his own business success, challenging business owners to re-evaluate sales strategies to ensure they align with today's consumers and their habits.

"Honest and transparent content is the greatest sales and trust-building tool in the world, period,” Sheridan said.

The industry dinner featured guest speaker Bill Goggins of Harken, who shared some of the company's 50-year history and insights on the impact of the Milwaukee area on the sailing and boating industry.

The conference continued this morning with Bill Wagner of ARI Leadership, who was to try to help attendees build digital marketing strategies in an interactive session about integrated marketing plans.

Then in small groups several industry challenges were to be tackled and ideas shared for the future. The conference was to conclude at noon.

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