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How to win first-time buyers

We need more first-time buyers. Is there anyone in our industry that disagrees with me on that? But let’s be clear: to get them will require an understanding of who they are and how they roll.

It’s in that context that the announcement of a special session about first-timers at next week’s International BoatBuilders’ Exhibition & Conference takes on genuine importance for dealers and manufacturers alike.

In this session, Discover Boating and their agency partner, Olson, are set to present the findings from the most comprehensive study of first-time boat purchasers ever done. “How to Win with the First-Time Boat Buyer” will reveal the different types of first-timers. Yes, they’re not all the same, but they are identifiable and they can be won over. Some notable examples about how they chose boat ownership will be included.

In addition to the who, the session will look at the what that attracts them to boating in the first place and, very importantly, the how they want to buy.

The special session will also examine the motivations for buying; identify what’s standing in the way of doing it; and how to turn buyers from “dreamers” into owners.

This special one-hour session is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 5 in Room 15 of the Tampa Convention Center. It’s open to all industry stakeholders attending IBEX and there is no pre-registration required. Just be there.

IBEX is slated for three days, Oct. 4-6 in Tampa. If you follow this blog, you know I have urged all dealers to attend IBEX. It’s the industry’s biggest annual event for boatbuilding, design, maintenance and product/materials introductions. And there is so much dealers can learn from the 550 exhibitors; dozens of presentations and demonstrations; not to mention the possibility of discovering new profit centers.

This year, IBEX had to add an entire second exhibit hall in the waterfront Convention Center and expanded the floating docks and adjacent dockside demonstration areas, too.

If for some reason you haven’t decided to attend IBEX, you still have time. Tampa is easy to get to. Moreover, if you live within driving distance and plan to spend just one day at IBEX, I urge you to make it Oct. 5) so you can attend the special session “How to Win with the First-Time Boat Buyer.”

For all IBEX information, go to:


2 comments on “How to win first-time buyers

  1. Ben

    How to win first time buyers? Build a basic/well built 21 foot boat with a modest/reliable outboard motor, back it with a 3 year “bumper to bumper warranty” with free storage for 12 months. Price it at less than $30K and have a great finance plan to support it.The key here is to put more into the boat and less into producing it and the dealers need to have some skin in the game (free storage) and zero haggle pricing. Think of a 21 ft Bayliner Element.

  2. Capt

    I agree with Ben. On the sailing side you need a 28 foot sailboat, with a cabin, for less than $80,000. The key here is to put more into the boat and less into producing it and the dealers need to have some skin in the game (free storage) and zero haggle pricing. You need to get Gen-Xers and Millennials into boating. They don’t have a lot of money. Other option are dealer supported boating clubs where individual owners own the boats and keep them in a club for qualified boaters to use.

    The game has changed.

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