As published on Boating Industry


Do you spend money on advertising?  Or, do you invest money in advertising?

What’s the difference you say…

In my book, “Marine Marketing Strategies” I give the example of ‘Brand Building’ versus what I call ‘Results Marketing’.  Think of it this way.

Brand Building vs Results Marketing

The goal of traditional, image or brand building ads is to ‘get your name out there’ and be ‘top of mind’.  So, the idea is to put your logo, manufacturer logos out there and hope when people are ready to buy a boat, they have a good feeling about your dealership and the brands you carry.  Think the GoodYear blimp.  They invest in having the blimp overhead at the Super Bowl with no reasonable expectation that 100,000 people are going to run out and buy tires as soon as the clock hit 0:00.  They hope that the next time someone needs tires, they recall (consciously or subconsciously) the good time they had while seeing the GoodYear logo on the blimp and think, hey, we should by the GoodYears.

With this style of advertising, you are ‘spending’ money because there is no way to measure the success.  Outside of a few select companies (GoodYear, Coke, Ford, McDonalds) with billion dollar ad budgets.  However, most in the boat business don’t have the budgets to make any true impact with this brand building strategy.  And, even for those handful of dealers and manufacturers with significant size, they have no real concept of what is working and what is not working with this type of strategy.

Most in the boat business (if not all) need to take a different approach to ensure they get the best results with the budget they have.

Vending Machine Marketing

Results based marketing on the other hand has to earn its keep with a specific measurable result with proper tracking and sniper’s like focus on profit.  This approach requires tracking from lead source to money in the bank.  Imagine, knowing that if you invest $1,000 in a particular campaign and it generates $5,000, $10,000 or $0 in gross margin.  How valuable would that be to your confidence  in your marketing budget.

That is investing money in building your dealership.  To know if a campaign is working or is not.  To know if you should invest more money or kill it.  To know that next year, you have a ‘vending machine’ type system to generate leads that with the proper nurturing and salesmanship will turn into profitable sales for your boat business.

How would that change your business?

Isn’t it worth investing some time, effort and money to develop a system that can be held accountable versus a write the check and ‘hope’ it works (although much easier approach) of brand building.

And, don’t worry, today it’s much easier than it was even 10 years ago.  With a majority of ad dollars being spent online, the tracking portion is simpler than ever before.  Yet, it does take a different mindset that what you may be used to.

As for Brand Building, it isn’t a total waste.  My suggestion to you would be to build your brand with your customer experience, service after the sale, social proof and as a bye product of the ‘Results Based’ marketing… not as the one and only goal.

So, what’s the easiest way to demonstrate the difference between these two approaches?

How about showing you a real life example along with commentary about the strategy and ‘behind the curtain’ detail that make it highly effective?

Now, for this month’s challenge:  Visit to experience this strategy first hand.  As you follow the steps, the reasoning and important details that you can’t see will be revealed.  Once you’ve discovered the entire concept, challenge yourself to come up with a similar system for your boat business.  (And yes manufacturers, this concept will work for you as well).