How many of these 7 steps do you use in your business building plan? Improving or adding any of these can take your boat business from being unpredictable day to day, month to month and year to year to more like “Old Faithful.” often driving more revenue in the off-season.

So, let’s look at each step real quick, then we’ll dive a little deeper one by one.

The 7 Steps to a More Profitable Business Building System:

  1. Determine Specifically Who You Are Going to Serve
  2. Get the Most Qualified Prospects within that Segment to Identify Themselves to You
  3. Educate and Motivate Those Who Have Raised Their Hand
  4. Make a Compelling Offer to Get Them Moving Forward
  5. Deliver a Dream Come True Experience from Your Clients Perspective
  6. Wow Them After the Sale
  7. Focus on Maximizing The Life Time Customer Value

Bonus Step: Orchestrate Referrals

As they say, let’s start from the beginning.

Step #1 – Determine Specifically Who You Are Going to Serve

You may look at that statement and say, “Hey, we serve boaters.” That was pretty easy. But, l suggest for the most profitable results, you dig a little deeper, and focus on the word specifically.

  • Do you serve boaters all over the world? Or, in a specific geographical area?
  • Do you serve boaters who fish, wake board, wake surf, entertain, cruise, pleasure boat with the family, sail, overnight, do poker runs, off shore fishing, fresh water fishing, (the list can go on and on).
  • Do you serve first time boaters, move-up buyers or those getting back into boating?
  • Do you serve premium buyers, value buyers or cheapest price buyers?
  • Do you serve professional, blue collar, small business owners, shift workers?
  • Do you serve people who drive F150s, BMWs or Lamborghinis
  • Do you serve people who live on the water where they boat, boat at their second home or trailer their boats for every outing?
  • Do you serve young boaters, retired boaters, family boaters, single boaters or speed freaks?
  • Do you serve middle-aged white folks, Asian boaters, Hispanic boaters, black boaters or other ethnic groups in your market area?

Now, before you stop reading this and say, “This guy doesn’t get it! We serve almost all of these types of people. We can’t just focus on one of them,” let me share with you where I’m going.

As a business you may be right. You may offer product lines that have divergent segments. But, in your marketing, when you focus on a single narrow group you have the ability to speak directly to them.

For example; I have one client who during the research stage discovered that a majority of their pontoon buyers live on the lake where they are located. Their aluminum fishing boat buyers all trailer their boats to about 10 different lakes, rivers and inlets within a 3 hour radius.

What does this tell them? Well, when talking to folks who are pontoon boaters, they need to focus on the importance of having your dealership on the lake that you boat – the ease of service and no need to waste money on a trailer. These buyers tend to be family pleasure boaters who have kids and grandkids who do a little bit of everything; fishing, tubing, cruising and entertaining.

When they speak to the fishermen, they need to talk about having a reliable boat that won’t cause issues when they just drove two hours to their favorite fishing spot. How customizing the boat for their specific fishing style will help them catch more and bigger fish. They can talk about having a durable boat that will be tough and get into the rocky areas without concern for scratching or puncturing their boat. These buyers also lean to more serious fishermen of stripers, catfish, perch and bass.

When you look at an example, can you see the advantage of treating these two segments of “boaters” as two distinct groups and market to them with different messages (just like you sell to them different naturally when you’re face to face)?

Step #2 – Get the Most Qualified Prospects within that Segment to Identify Themselves to You

Once you have identified the correct target market, you have a choice. You can try to get your name out there with typical brand building or image advertising and hope that your logo, your manufacturer’s logo and a pretty picture entice a prospect to walk into your dealership. As a mentor of mine says; “Hope is a poor business building strategy.”

Or, you can make a specific offer to narrow down the thousands and thousands of people into the small percentage who are most likely to buy a boat in the next 6 to 18 months. Here’s why this is so important.

If I were to give you these two options, which one would you choose?

Option #1 – You can have 10 minutes to stand in front of a room of 1,000 people to pitch your dealership and your boats. You can say anything you want to them, think of a 10 minute long commercial.

Option #2 – Or, you could stand in the back of the room and be handed an envelope with the names, email address and phone numbers of the 10 who will be buying a boat in the next 6 to 18 months.

Which option would be most valuable to your boat business?

If you choose the 10 people who will be buying a boat in the next 6 to 18 months, I believe you are 100 percent correct and here’s why. Instead of having 10 minutes to speak to 1,000 people, you can spend as much time as necessary to speak to just those 10 who are true buyers. You can speak to them every week and ensure that you guide them along the Educational Spectrum and guarantee you are there when the timing is right.

Step #3 – Educate and Motivate Those Who Have Raised Their Hand

Now, once you have narrowed down the entire population to those who are most likely to buy in the next 6 to 18 months, you can focus on educating them and motivating them to buy from you.

And I prefer to do this via highly leverageable tools versus shear brute force of your sales team’s manpower. First, what do I mean by educate and motivate?

Well, consider all the education you do during the one-on-one manual sales process. You teach them about the importance of service after the sale, choosing the right boat, storage, insurance, maintenance and on and on and on. Then, you motivate them to take the next step in the buying process; call, visit the dealership or maybe take a demo ride.

So, how can you do this in a more automated and systematic manner?

To answer this, I like to break this step down into two half-steps. First, you educate. Then you motivate.

One of the best ways to educate a prospect in an automated fashion is with the written word (like this article, I am writing once but explaining to the thousands of Boating Industry readers). Another that I like even more is video (online or DVD’s). But, websites, webinars, seminars, free reports, demonstrations, blogs and books can all be part of this systematic educational step.

Once you’ve educated the prospect in an automated manner, you need to motivate them that owning a boat is a fantastic decision and they should take action sooner, rather than later. And, that leads us to the Step #4, Make a Compelling Offer to Get Them Moving Forward. And, that’s exactly what we’ll dive into next week.

In the meantime, leave a question or comment below. I will try to respond to each individually.
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Matt Sellhorst is the author of Marine Marketing Strategies and a speaker at industry events including Marine Dealer Conference & Expo and Marine Retail University. After developing systems that propelled him to top producer status at a six-location dealership, Sellhorst now coaches and consults with boat dealers, brokers and manufactures to sell more boats with less price resistance without wasting time or money on marketing schemes that flat out don’t work.