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Is ‘no time’ our biggest hurdle?

I asked my son, a Gen Xer, why he doesn’t have a boat. He certainly knows boats — he grew up in a boating family. It’s not a question of money — he can afford one. He likes boating — whenever he visits he wants to go fishing on my boat. So why?

“Time. I just don’t have the time,” was his answer. And that got me wondering whether time, or the perception of the time needed to boat, is a primary reason we’re struggling to attract new boaters like Gen Xers that are well into their careers and high-earnings years? Perhaps Seth Godin has some solid insight.

Godin is a marketer, speaker and author of titles such as “Purple Cow,” “All Marketers Are Liars,” “Free Prize Inside,” and a three-book series on marketing in the 21st century.

This week he wrote a blog he titled “I Don’t Have Time.” After hearing my son say that, the timing of Godin’s blog hit me like a bus. He suggested that when people utter those words, what they’re actually saying is “it wasn’t important enough.” Or it’s not a priority, it’s not fun, it’s distracting, or it’s not profitable or urgent enough to make it to the top of the list.

Consequently, running out of time is essentially a euphemism, contends Godin.  Sure, time is finite. But the good news is it’s also replenished every second.

For the astute salesperson, then, when lack of time enters the conversation, it really signals that the boat hasn’t made the top of the list yet. It’s time to sell the sizzle of the boating lifestyle. To show that the boat means escape from life’s daily hassle (everyone wants to escape these days).

In addition, it’s also time to pull out special considerations and incentives that will convince prospects they’ll be spending their valuable time just enjoying the pleasure of being on the water. For example, special packages designed to take care of the maintenance and service time for them. Or hands-on training so they can spend all their time aboard confident in their handling skills.

Interestingly, Godin notes that Twitter and Facebook soak up billions of hours of “spare” time. Where does that time come from, he asks. What did we do before social media? Weren’t we busy five years ago?

When it comes to time, prospects and customers are always recalibrating their time — where to go, which shows to watch, how to spend leisure time. In that framework, the road to selling more boats has nothing to do with giving people more time (we all get just 24 hours a day, no one gets more.)

Rather, when it comes to selling more boats, Godin is right on when he emphasizes selling has “everything to do with creating more urgency, more of an itch, more desire!”

For lots more of Godin, go to


8 comments on “Is ‘no time’ our biggest hurdle?

  1. Wanda Kenton Smith

    Once again, Norm has nailed it. I’m a huge SETH fan and a promoter of his marketing including my favorite, Purple Cow. I totally agree that this issue regarding TIME is a real thing, for Gen-xers and everyone else. Twitter, FB and other social media take up a lot of time, but much of it is after hours or quickly between tasks. Our goal is to show the VALUE OF QUALITY TIME that the boating experience offers so that someone chooses to spend his or her available time engaging in an experience that brings families and friends together like no other. You make TIME for what yields best return. Attaboy Norm!

  2. Robert Berg

    “No time” is just a euphemism for “not worth it to me.” It’s really a “value” and “hassle” proposition. GenXers are pressed for both time and money these days (as are everyone else). Boating is just too damn expensive for most people, especially those with young families. The price of new boats must come down, and service and maintenance costs must be more reasonable. Really, the industry needs to adopt the car manufacturers’ model where the manufacturer is responsible for nearly everything that breaks for at least three years, and where things don’t break very often. When things broke on my boat after the first year, I had to track down each component manufacturer and determine if the item was still covered (generally not). Moreover, when my boat manufacturer went bust (as did so many), I had to reverse engineer my boat every time something broke and source the replacement parts myself. Sadly, I’m pretty good at it. So when people say “No time,” they mean given the costs and hassles, boat ownership is not worth it to them.

  3. Rollie Herman

    I have a daughter in her 30’s and hear the “no time” comment often. While it is used as a put off for something she and her family don’t want to do it is obvious that her life has a different set of expectations than mine did when I was in my 30’s. Kids start school at a younger age and organized sports started when my grandson was a bit over 1. Kids (my daughter is still a kid in my eyes) travel in packs and the whole pack has to agree on an activity.

    The other social change going on is their desire to live in urban areas rather than the suburbs. There is no room to park a boat on a trailer in downtown Seattle so you have the added cost, and headache, of storage. This flight to the cities is a real thing, talk to any urban planner and they expect that the suburbs we grew up in will be the next ghettos. Kids want to be able to live without a car, again making it difficult to get to a boat. Perhaps we need to start constructing canals.

  4. Lou. Sandoval

    BINGO! Norm, your observation is spot on as are many of the comments enclosed. If we look at what people have going on in their 30s and 40s : career growth & development, families, children’s activities, there are many other issues that compete for time. When I look at the buyer profile of the last five years, 4:1 , existing boaters out pace new comers and 5:1 of the buyers are >50. External Economic issues aside, we are failing to connect with the ‘busy potential buyer’. There are multiple factors as to why , but again as has been said ” we are less apt to participate in that to which we don’t have a connection or to that to which we don’t value” . This crosses all age, gender and ethnic categories. Thank you for highlighting this.

  5. Bob Brown

    Sorry, I have to totally disagree with Mr. Godin’s assertion that “no time” is a euphemism, especially for the important 30 to 45 year-old age bracket when it comes to boating. I have two married daughters with two children each, ranging in age from 6 to 12. And both household incomes could easily afford just about any boat they want, but they don’t own one. Here’s why — soccer, baseball, ice skating lessons, Brownies, wrestling, football and competitive horse showing. Each one of these “kids” activities are well organized with a season filled with non-stop events and games. If the kids don’t practice with the “team” during the week, they don’t play on Saturday and Sunday, and if you’re a 10 year old, not playing on with weekend with your teammate buddies is not an option. Going boating with mom and dad is a low priority. Today, organized “youth” sports hold are children hostage….that’s not a euphemism.

  6. captA

    Robert, Rollie and Robert have hit it on the nose. Family culture/lifestyles have changed over the past 25 years. The boating industry needs change with it. Godin is wrong with regards to time/money. Boats are too expensive for the majority og Gen Xers–period. Millenials are not purchasing cars/houses let alone boats. Boating clubs are the future for these two generations. The industry needs to get off this one boat-owner model!

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