Boating Industry

October 2014

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MARKET FOCUS SECTION { MARKETING } October 2014 | Boating Industry | 51 is actually less expensive via traditional media, particularly direct mail. Has it escaped you that many of these free website building companies are constantly advertising on radio? And none other than Google is always soliciting new AdWords business using direct mail! I am not saying you should not have a website. You must have one in this day and age. I'm also not saying you should not have a Facebook page or a Twitter account. But leave the marketing pioneering to compa- nies with much bigger pockets than yours… even if they're just bigger players in the boating industry. Here are some recommendations. 1. EMBRACE DIRECT MAIL Make direct mail the keystone of your mar- keting efforts. DM consistently comes in fi rst when it comes to delivering transactions at the lowest cost. That doesn't mean you should keep doing direct mail the way you always have in the past, however. Get yourself educated as to what works and what doesn't in direct mail, and make sure you are mak- ing compelling offers that your customers and prospects will have trouble refusing. 2. TEST YOUR MESSAGES ONLINE Use online marketing as a proving ground for your advertising messages. The biggest advantage of online marketing is your abil- ity to inexpensively test and track. You can create different landing pages, send emails with different subject lines and headlines, throw out different offers; and you can track the results to see which generate the greatest interest in the form of opens, click- throughs and conversions. Then, take what you learn about your messages and offers, and apply them to your traditional media, to make them more effective. 3. GO FROM SEO TO PPC Take the money you are currently spending on search engine optimization and start spend- ing it on Pay Per Click (or Cost Per Click) ad- vertising. Look, Google is going to change the algorithm – again, and again, and again. If you are on page one, you won't be sooner or later. They'll tell you it's to make the search engine more responsive to the consumer, but don't believe it. It's to get you to ultimately throw up your hands and say, I'm just gonna buy my position. May as well give in to that now, save the SEO budget and buy the position. 4. DRIVE TO YOUR WEBSITE Use traditional media to drive people to your website (it takes a compelling offer). Then, use the website to drive people to your showroom. 5. JUSTIFY YOUR VALUE Since buyers are going to "showroom" you (in other words, come in to see and perhaps "test drive" your products, then go shop on- line for better prices), make sure you pre- empt that activity by educating prospects in all media, including your website, Facebook, and other social media platforms, as to the extra value you bring to the table that justifi es your pricing. Gone are the days of mere price and item marketing. You'd better be able to convince consumers you're better, or they'll buy for price elsewhere. Finally, budget for your digital marketing the way you would any other media. Make a value judgment about the contribution it can make to your top and bottom lines and allocate time, personnel and fi nancial re- sources according to the reasonable percent- age of contribution you realistically expect. Stop overdoing it. I know that last paragraph was heresy, but ask yourself this… can I live on my digi- tal marketing efforts alone? Could I, if I were to put all of my marketing resources into my digital efforts? If not now, when might I be able to do that? Jim Ackerman is president of Ascend Market- ing, Inc. and is a Salt Lake City-based marketing consultant, coach and speaker. He can be reached at PRINT ADVERTISING AND DIRECT MAIL STILL PLAY AN IMPORTANT ROLE.

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