Dealer Outlook

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Escapism sells

Turn on the evening news these days and it’s mostly negative. Doom-and-gloom reports of slow growth. A missing airliner. Fear of terrorist attacks. A Cold War-type crisis. Climate change. Rising interest rates.  An exhausting winter that never ends.

“Stop the world, I wanna get off — even if just for a little while,” could be the thinking behind the current trend toward escapism. It’s simple: people find they need to balance out the bad stuff by doing things that feed their senses and make them feel good.

Experts who observe this sort of thing point out that even in the midst of an ongoing global recession, the vacation market is booming. In St. Petersburg/Clearwater, Fla., for example, tourism is breaking all records as evidenced by the highest collection of bed-tax revenues ever.

Gaming is another example of increased escapism. It continues to produce record tax revenues in most states. We’re becoming escape junkies. We look for experiences that take us away from the dilemmas of 24/7 life. Studies reveal that 80 percent of consumers say their decision to purchase is based on the expectation of a good experience — and clearly experience will be the biggest factor for any repurchase.

It’s all good news for boating. Boats are the ultimate escape machines. We’re not selling fiberglass, we’re selling experiences. It’s a fact that when families are out in the water, they create their experience as they want it to be. They chose the activity: cruising, fishing, skiing, sunning and on.

I’m reminded of last year’s Marine Dealer Conference & Expo in Orlando when author/keynoter Jeffrey Gitomer told hundreds of dealers: “People don’t like to be sold, but they love to buy. And people buy for their reasons, not yours.” He’s right on both counts. Truth is we do work for the money to buy the things we want — things that give us relief, restoration and pleasure.

Gitomer also warned dealers never to embrace what he labeled the dumbest question in sales: “What’s it going to take to get your business? Why don’t you just ask, ‘How much do I have to cut my price to get your business?’ ”

If the prospects walking through the doors of our dealerships are escape junkies, we should be selling to that. Price will not be the focus and we shouldn’t make it so. Instead, every salesperson should give them a taste of the experiences that are theirs if they opt to get out on the water. It’s a perfect message. Escapism is us.

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