Many marine businesses have competition – especially in a local area or region. When it comes to differentiating themselves versus others, they will talk about what makes them unique: when they were founded, the number of years they have been in the business, where they are located, or how much dockage they have. It’s all information that’s strictly about them.
But facts like these may not be significant to a new boater or a transient boater or captain. For most boat owners and captains, their decision-making is around “how are you going to solve my problem?” Where can I dock? Who will fix my boat? How have you helped other boat owners or captains who have this problem?
This is why positioning yourself as a “thought leader” can be so powerful. Not only can you identify new captains or boat owners through their problems and issues, you can talk about how you solved for this and how you’re continuously solving for this in the future.
In fact, one of the best ways to differentiate yourself from your competition is to stop talking about you and talk about them. What boating issues are they facing every day? How do you solve for that?
Here are some of the ways you can tell boat owners and captains they are in good hands with you because you understand them.
- Create a webinar or seminar – to share your knowledge/story/experience
What burning issue are you helping to solve for a boat owner or captain? What are the hot topics in your area? If you’re truly a thought leader, you know what these are, so share your knowledge! One way to do this is to create a seminar in your offices and invite everyone on your email list to attend.
- Go one step further – create a panel or group event
Another way to ratchet up your presence for new boat owners or captains is to create an event. It doesn’t have to be huge – I’m not suggesting a new marina trade show. But perhaps a panel discussion at your location on an interesting topic in the industry: the loss of local dockage to real estate investment or the changing size of boats. Are you a member of a boating group in your area? Sponsor one of their meetings at your location. This ensures everyone will come to you and learn more about you and what you do.
- Write a blog – once a week or twice a month
Do people still read blogs? Yes, if it’s helpful and relevant information, they do. Too many times, however, boating blogs provide information that everyone knows or don’t give specifics that are helpful.
If you want to be considered a leader in your industry, write a blog of substance. Take before and after photos. Share a secret. Take a stand and argue about something that’s relevant. No one is going to consider you a thought leader if your blogs don’t help your customers to solve problems or think about important issues – that is, if they don’t lead.
- Send out a newsletter
Not your everyday, run-of-the-mill newsletter about the new lift you’ve installed or new dockage you’ve put in. Share information of importance that you learned attending a conference, for example. What are the hot new boats and boating trends? What will a recent manufacturing merger mean to customers? How is local zoning or housing development going to affect local boaters? Are there local bridges that are being fixed, or need to be fixed?
If you are writing a blog, or having an agency or writer do it for you, feature those posts in your newsletter. If you don’t know what to write about, look at some of the headlines in your latest trade magazines. These are great ways to know what’s a hot topic and what’s of interest to the industry. Your monthly newsletter can cover those topics and your perspective on them.
- Create a video – or 2,3,4
The only thing boat owners like better than their boats are videos of their boats on the water; this is why drone videos of boats are so popular now.
Videos are an effective way to show boat owners and captains that you understand them and solve their problems. Keep it short and to the point; people’s attention spans are fairly short these days. There are many different ways you can go in videos; my favorites are “short and entertaining” or “long and informational.”
The more visually exciting you want your video to be, the more expensive it will be to make. Be sure that you have a good script, a great crew, and budget. For something more home-grown and simple, be sure that you know what your audience would like to see. Try out a short version, to see if people like it (on social media, for instance) and then do more, or create longer versions once you’ve established there’s interest in the topic.
Most important of all, give them something in the video they can’t see for themselves. Again, to be a “thought leader” you have to do something out of the ordinary, visually or informationally.
Remember: these are all marketing tactics to help you elevate your status as a marine industry thought leader. To really become a leader, you need to practice these continuously, not just once or twice, or in the off-season.
Better yet, create a marketing strategy and calendar out all the tactics you’re going to do throughout the year! Not sure where to begin? This is where I can help. Contact me at [email protected].