A View from Here

Bill's Sisson's weekly Trade Only blog

What do you think of Grow Boating?

The National Marine Manufacturers Association is giving pretty high marks to the industry’s Grow Boating Initiative so far. After only the first year of the advertising campaign, consumer awareness of Discover Boating rose from 1 in 20, to 1 in 4. There also was a surge in traffic to the re-designed DiscoverBoating.com Web site, with a 250 percent increase at the fiscal year close on Sept. 30, compared to the previous year. The Web site drew more than 1.6 million visits from March through September 2006, with May and June seeing peak traffic.

What’s more, a study conducted by Russell Research found the campaign successful at getting new people to consider boating. The study showed a 6 percent increase in those shopping for a boat.

The NMMA has said all along that the boat buying process often takes about three years from the time a prospective buyer first considers the possibility to when a purchase is actually made. But while it may be too early to measure Grow Boating’s impact on boat sales, NMMA obviously is quite proud of the goals the initiative has achieved so far.

We would be interested in hearing what others in the industry have to say about Grow Boating’s progress. For those who supported the campaign from the beginning, do these numbers reaffirm your original views? Do you think the campaign should be expanded?

For the skeptics out there, does the Grow Boating report card change your mind at all? And for all of those who were at the special presentation in Miami this past February, what do you think of the Discover Boating commercials?

When the NMMA unveiled the first two commercials last year, the TV spots were met with mixed reviews. Still, most recognized the need to move forward rather than spend too much time fine-tuning the ads – time the industry obviously does not have. As it turns out, “The Wave” commercial resonated well with consumers. The grocery shopping one has been replaced with a new ad featuring man’s best friend. Titled, “Dogs need weekends too,” the 30-second spot shows various scenes of dogs having fun on their owner’s boats.

Do you think Grow Boating officials made the right selections this time around?

Melanie A. Winters

Associate Editor

Soundings Trade Only




9 comments on “What do you think of Grow Boating?

  1. Joe Lewis

    So far so good with Grow Boating. It was our number one source of new leads in 2006 and we’re expecting the same in 2007. 2006 was not a great year for our new boat sales. Had it not been for the business Grow Boating helped us generate it would have been much worse.

  2. Lester Doyne

    Grow Boating is a joke. If you think that adding a surcharge to every boat in this small unrecognized ‘industry’ to get peoples attention with banal platitudes ads, you’re crazy.

    I got sick of this hand holding MRAA – NMMA gig 10 years ago. When you pick up the ever thinning other trade publications, you really see that there is nothing left to say.

    After all these years it’s the same national trade ‘gurus’ and self appointed experts going over the same old issues; dealer manufacturer agreements, grow boating, warranty, flat & dwindling 17 year markets, and etc. Nothing but national trade guys who enjoy Vegas and their salary.

    The real problems; high fuel costs, exponential price increases in product, onerous local, state and federal taxation and regulation, and less appealing boating.

    This is industry has no money or clout ie the auto, pharmacutical, and other large revenue that is required to combat DC and the R’nold’s of the world.

    Get used to it, we’re maverick entrepreneurs until we retire or ascend to the level of Marine Max

  3. Larry Cuda Rodriguez

    The recent write up on the NMMA and its’ role with the Discover Boating campaign, etc., was right on target. I understand the lack of someone stepping to the plate, thus the NMMA in its’ vision and selfish interest of concern, and their focusing on behalf of the manufacturers only, has left a much to be desired outcome, and the present numbers show it.
    When I see wasted advertising on boating publications, specifically industry ones, for a campaign which should be targeting the non-boating public, lets face, the whole mess has been poorly managed, the NMMA is a “boat show promoting” organization, though they deserve credit in many aspects of boating, their primary focus is making money at BOAT SHOWS!! They no doubt do an excellent job in their market, but I’ve always wondered about some of those other task they undertake.
    It is clearly a problem the boating industry, and I mean everyone in it, not just the big conglomerate manufacturers, which obviously have the funds, as a whole have quite a challenge ahead.
    I for one have decided to hang the hat, due to age I’m retiring, but can not help wonder the route boating is heading.
    Is it too little too late for the present Discover Boating approach.
    Should the NMMA be fired from a job poorly done? Is it fair to make that statement? Is there someone willing to step in and still be able to divert the huge budget from the NMMA, or most of it in the right direction?
    There’s no easy solutions in today’s market place, radical changes are demanded by the continued downtrend, though we would all like to beleive it’s ready to turn around in 2008 as many predict, some realitites need to be truly examined.
    The challenge of global warming for the next decade will undoubtedly dwarf some of todays problems, but as an industry perhaps we may use something this huge to view our future with a new perspective. Who knows?, the prospect of a rising ocean could work to boating’s advantage.
    I realize getting everyone together will take a huge effort, in my mind I sometimes question that possibility, though as a businessman I always functioned on possibilities being endless.
    Boating is not the same it was when I was a kid, or when I bought my first boat, I must admit they seem a lot more affordable then, but then they didn’t have every gizmo in the world, (there weren’t that many gizmos anyway), and perhaps that needs to be re-examined, sort of go back to some roots….perhaps not.
    The one thing that sticks to my mind from those days is how much fun it was to go out in the water with friends and family and how different we all felt, at least from the mundane.
    The only thing we can be sure of besides death and taxes, there are some very tough decision lurking ahead, maybe it’s not so much about discovering boating, but rediscovering fun and family.
    It was always cheaper than giving it to the shrink.

    Larry Cuda Rodriguez

  4. CarlM

    Mr. Lester Doyne my brother, you are so on target. I did the same with the NMMA years ago. We do not send Mr. “Damnfools” group any surcharge dollars & never will until real change takes place. Believe me there are more of us out here in the grass roots area’s that are suceeding quite well inspite of what these so called “know it alls” tell you.
    When 300,000 or less outboards are sold yearly for over a decade, you need to start understanding what that means- That the USA market is at saturation and it now becomes a game of growing by eliminating smaller dealers & builders. Best way to do that is to make everyone build to the same big manufacturers cost structure by instilling arbitrary certification standards & on the dealer side make all the dealers incure the overhead of the big multilocation dealerships, agian by conforming to some arbitrary certification criteria.

    As Lester said, this is a boutique & niche business with very low volume, Work locally not nationally! Get close with your customers and suppliers then identify their needs because that is who matters not folks in Chicago.. If you do that you will be free & you will be profitable.

  5. Lester Doyne

    Re: First comment. This is a national forum hosted by the best trade magazine in the industry. Notice the small amount of posts… and compare that with Grow Boating stunt?

  6. Jim Pinto

    Grow Boating….what a great idea! Please read the following post. I was replying to the “Brunswick Dealer Profit Program” but I think it turned into a “Grow Boating” reply. Gee, I guess they go hand in hand…

    Brunswick has and always will be for profit for its shareholders and directors. When you control the amount of market share they do, let’s be real. All they care about is bottom line. How many “Programs” to help dealers will there be? How many are really needed? How many incentives? What do they do? Does Brunswick understand or care about its dealers? Especially the engine only power segment of the marine industry. They have not realized what keeps boaters into boating. Yes, of course it starts with buying a boat, but more important is what happens after the purchase. How about word of mouth? That’s a great tool that’s free of charge! That is where Brunswick and many others fail to see the real world. Last year I did a phone survey to 25 local new boat dealers in my area and asked the following questions:” What is your # 1 profit center? What is your worst? And finally “what department would you get rid of if you had a choice? The answers will not shock anyone at Brunswick or any new boat dealer reading this. But they would shock every potential new boater. Boat sales were # 1 profit. Service was least profitable. And Service was the # 1 department most dealers would do without. Hey, I have an idea…Let’s form an organization that we can give a ton of money to, hire a top of the line marketing firm, hire directors of big money corps, yes even get Brunswick and the other boat builders to contribute and lets show the world why boating is so great. Lets show them why boating is better than RVing. Let’s show them….oops! I forgot we already have “GROW BOATING!” What was I thinking? I was just flipping thru many of my trade only marine dealer magazines and realized my mistake. God, it seams like every issue going back 5-6 years is talking about how the Marine Industry should take advice from the Auto Industry. How many articles does Ben Sherwood have to write? The joke is on the new unsuspecting boater. After he spends the money, time and devotes him/her self to the boating life, they find out the real truth. What does Brunswick care about them? As long as the new boat is sold, they win. As long as the new boat dealers feel their service departments should go away, Boaters lose. Not every New Boat dealer feels that way. They somehow are doing it right, and there are many. But what about the rest? What about the others that fly the MerCruiser Service flag? Service? After 15 years in the Marine Service Industry, it is very easy to see why “GROW BOATING” is needed. Why grow boating when you can’t grow marine mechanics? Why grow boating when it takes 1/2 the boating season to get your boat fixed? Why grow boating when you have to spend your life savings on the repairs? Why grow boating when the dealers can’t make any money with their service departments? Oh, what were we talking about? Gee I forgot the topic. Ah yes it was about Brunswick and some Dealer PROFIT incentive program for dealers. Yes, they are going around the country to see all their dealer “friends.” Last, when I spoke to a few of my “friends” at Mercury Marine before I closed the Service part of my business 3 years ago, they told me my Service only MerCruiser Dealership was not needed in the area. Yes, there “other” local dealers were doing a splendid job! And that my annual sales of over 1 mil, mostly in Brunswick MerCruiser engines, drives, parts and repower installations that kept many boaters in boating from all over the East Coast would not be missed by the boating consumer. They were confident that the other surrounding “New Boat Dealers” would be able to satisfy all their needs in the future. Have they kept the old boaters in boating or have they just replaced them with a new unsuspecting boater?

    How about a “WORD OF MOUTH” boating campaign? It’s FREE!

  7. Jim

    does anyone read these posts? Does anyone read this magazine? Anyone at Brunswick? Genmar? NMMA? Growboating. CMTA? Any other trade assc? Whats the deal? Does this represent why our Industry falls on its face? maybe someone should forward these to the indusrty leaders that SHOULD be interested in what all of us think. The magazine asks many excellent questions…Trade only its time to call out the big boys…forward all of these “concern” we have…or else cancel this “TALK” column because all we do here is talk to ourselves. Are you listening all you big money CEO’s? Anyone home? I hope the advertising $$ isn’t the reason why. That would be sad.

  8. B

    think you nailed it there Jim in your last sentence…..Complicity has many tentacles
    Nothing LESS than a complete business cultural change is in order for US business…but it wont happen


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