Social media firm sees boost with Brunswick partnership

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Josh Chiles said he is stunned at the activity his social media firm Engaged has received since being named an official provider in Brunswick Corp.’s Dealer Advantage program.

The founder and CEO told Soundings Trade Only that he hasn’t had a chance to make phone calls soliciting business because his phones haven’t stopped ringing since the announcement came Oct. 4 during the International BoatBuilders’ Exhibition and Conference in Louisville, Ky.

“The interest we saw in the first 24 hours is usually what Brunswick sees in the first week, or even the first month, when they’ve partnered with companies in the past,” Chiles said. “It has been amazing.”

The 33-year-old said he never imagined he’d see news about his company on Yahoo Finance news, but as soon as Brunswick issued a press release it showed up on the news service.

It is a tough honor to come by. Engaged is one of about 30 businesses Brunswick affiliates itself with, Brunswick spokesman Dan Kubera tells Trade Only. The program was launched to help Brunswick dealers connect with well-established and trustworthy companies and is available to any dealer that sells a Brunswick brand, Chiles said at IBEX.

“When they get feedback from dealers, or specific questions in one area, they go find a company to fit that need,” Chiles said. “They felt Engaged would fit that need.”

The firm is unique in that it specializes in social media help only to the marine industry, offering services tailored to each company’s specific need.

“If a dealer or manufacturer wants to do [social media] in-house, we have a product to help them manage that,” Chiles told Trade Only. “If it’s over their head we can manage the content for them. And if something is not working we can help come up with a strategy for them.”

Engaged is hiring to help manage the influx of interest, but Chiles says he is moving carefully in growing the company.

“We have to be sure we don’t grow so fast that we can’t provide a high standard of service,” Chiles said.

Brunswick’s vetting process took nearly a year to complete, Chiles said. It began at the Marine Dealer Conference & Expo in November 2011.

“One neat thing — it was a pat on the back and it makes me so excited — was that when Brunswick made calls to our clients they didn’t get one single negative comment about Engaged,” Chiles said. “That had never happened for any of their other advantage program companies.”

— Reagan Haynes