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Understanding “Welcome to the Water” (Part 2)

“Our end game is clear – drive traffic to retail outlets.” That purpose was solidly underscored by the NMMA’s Carl Blackwell (Grow Boating president) during Wednesday’s webinar highlighting the 2012 “Welcome to the Water” national campaign.

The more than 325 industry stakeholders that tuned into the webinar got a fast-paced snapshot of the aggressive, integrated marketing campaign now under way to build national boating awareness, boating participation and qualified boat sales leads. It takes advantage of digital media and social networks more broadly than ever before, and also boasts new and/or improved materials available to dealers ranging from content-rich, easy-to-use video to point-of-purchase “Welcome to the Water” items.

It’s professional stuff and it’s free.

Blackwell outlined the digital ad campaign strategy, which employs three powerful vehicles, namely the Internet, mobile media and social media. For example, the ad campaign anchor is an extensive online video schedule featuring new boating ad videos strategically placed as “pre-roll” to the news or other major content that consumers click on to view on the Internet. What it means is the consumer must watch the full “message” before the news content runs. Moreover, next to the video will always be a “Get Started Boating” banner they can simply click on to get the improved Discover Boating DVD.

In addition to that, so-called rich media will be extensively used. That’s where the “message” is embedded into a banner ad that automatically expands once the consumer rolls the mouse over it. These banners will reach consumers through targeted web sites like Weather.com, MLB.com, FoxSports.com, Discovery.com and dozens more.

Mobile media is booming. In fact, because mobile and tablet usage are growing so fast, they’re now projected to pass desktop usage within two years. Mobile is the second largest medium viewed after TV and “Welcome to the Water” is going there big-time. For example, when a mobile user checks his local forecast on, say, Weather.com, he’s likely to get the message “Another amazing day to hit the water” or “Come see life through the eyes of a boater.” Mobile ads will be geo-targeted and weather-specific to serve customized messages to consumers in close proximity to water.

New this year is the medium of Connected TV. Fully 25 percent of new TV’s today are Internet capable. When the TV is turned on, the screen shows many icons for the viewer to choose from ranging from “Go to TV” to Netflix, as an example. But “Welcome to the Water” banner ads may also be there. Click and the video rolls on the TV.

On the social media front, one of the most exciting new additions for 2012 will be found on Discover Boating’s Facebook page. Right now, there are 297,000 fans that “like” Discover Boating on Facebook. The goal is to grow that to 500,000 this summer.

And the crown jewel in this year’s Facebook program is the addition of a “Welcome to the Water” movie maker app. That’s right, it will actually let boaters create their own Discover Boating videos using their pictures of their boating activities, add selected music and write captions. They’ll be able to post their movie on their own Facebook page to show all their friends and family what they’re enjoying. After all, no one can sell the joy of boating better than . . . boaters.

The movie maker should be up and running around Memorial Day, Blackwell noted, and it can be added to any stakeholder’s website.

So far, I’ve barely touched on all that the “Welcome to the Water” campaign has going this year. There’s a sports talk radio tour coming this summer with celebrities like bass great Kevin VanDam and Phillies ace Roy Halladay (Question: What did the Phillies give Halladay to commemorate his no-hitter? Answer: a fishing boat, of course). There are all new Web tools; new collateral materials like “Beginners Guide to Boating” in four languages; a new Boat Brands page enabling consumers to quickly find listings of manufacturers and brands they’re interested in; an all-new Accessories Section that lets consumers search categories on manufacturers websites and even make their own personal accessory shopping list; and so much more.

If all this has grabbed your interest, the best thing you can do now is take time to look over the industry’s amazing and diverse Discover Boating program (FYI – “Welcome to the Water” is the ad campaign theme this year; the overall industry growth program is called Discover Boating.)

Here’s more good news: If you missed the Webinar, get the information and find the materials available to you as a dealer by visiting GrowBoating.org. Here’s a link to a recorded version of the webinar: http://www.growboating.org/toolkit/webinars.aspx;  use this link for easy-to-use Web content for your own website http://www.growboating.org/toolkit/webcontent/default.aspx; and find campaign point-of-sale materials all available at no cost to you by simply going to: http://www.growboating.org/toolkit/promotionalmaterials.aspx

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