Grow Boating Marketing Summit Explores Role of Brands, Discover Boating Campaign in Reaching New Boat Buyers


The first-ever Maximize Your Grow Boating Investment: Marine Industry Marketing Summit was held September 18, ahead of the International BoatBuilders’ Exhibition and Conference (IBEX) in Tampa. More than 110 industry marketers were in attendance to hear from marketing and research experts on how to reach new boat buyers and how the Discover Boating campaign is crucial in helping to attract first-time boat buyers.

“The Summit was designed to cover topics relevant to our industry’s marketers, and based on the feedback we received, many left the room with knowledge they could immediately apply to their efforts while better understanding the role of the Discover Boating campaign,” said Carl Blackwell, Grow Boating president. “The Summit reinforced that Discover Boating alone doesn’t sell boats. While the campaign attracts first-time boat buyers and sends them to boat manufacturers, manufacturers and dealers must utilize nurture marketing strategies before they sell to these first-time buyers.”

Summit attendees included boat, engine and accessory manufacturers, as well as dealers, boat clubs and marine industry service providers. Attendees reported that the Summit demonstrated the important nurture marketing role manufacturers and dealers must play when it comes to making the efforts of Discover Boating work.

Nathan Abdalian of Boston Whaler said, “It was great to get some incremental insights and be challenged to continually refine our existing marketing approaches.”

Captain Gary Spivack from Maritime Operations LLC/Bertram Yacht said, “I was unaware of Grow Boating's position and purpose in the marketplace and now have a much better understanding of the valuable work that you do. I am sure we will be taking advantage of your resources in the future. All the speakers offered important opportunities for learning which our industry needs to grow.”

The Summit featured marketing and research experts who outlined industry data insights, exploration into the mind of the first-time boat buyer and best practices for how the recreational boating industry can stay engaged with today’s increasingly digital consumer through their own marketing strategies and with the Discover Boating campaign.

During the Summit, marketing expert and keynote speaker, Marcus Sheridan, one of Forbes magazine’s “Top 20 Speakers You Shouldn’t Miss the Opportunity to See,” reinforced the importance of understanding and delivering what today’s digital consumer is looking for in their online research and shopping and called out the success of Discover Boating noting, “Discover Boating is doing some pretty amazing things. I’ve looked at the stats of how much traffic they’re sending your sites through web referrals. It’s unbelievable. But if the consumer comes to your website and they’re not fed, then they’ll just die on the vine.”

Key takeaways from the speakers at the Summit included:

The Discover Boating campaign attracts first-time boat buyers and directs them to brands, but after that hand-off, manufacturers' nurture marketing efforts are crucial before trying to sell to the first-time buyer. (
Introduction by Carl Blackwell, Discover Boating)

Today’s boaters are aging and the number of first-time boat buyers has been declining – how can we remove obstacles to introduce and retain more people to boating? (
Presentation by Peter Houseworth, Info-Link)

Balance the need to sell with the need to serve to attract and retain new boaters. (
Presentation by Meredith Engelen, OLSON)

Critical differences between website referrals and leads and why referrals matter more (

A well-defined nurture marketing strategy must come first – honest and transparent content is the greatest sales and trust-building tool in the world. (
Presentation by Marcus Sheridan)

Manufacturers and dealers need to market—not sell—until a shopper is ready to buy, so optimize your websites to give your potential customers what they want when they want it. (
Presentation by Armida Markarova, Marketing Strategy Hub)

Develop a digital relationship with your prospects through content-driven nurture emails. (
Presentation by Steve Pizzolato, AVALA Marketing Group)

Recordings and printable versions of all Summit presentations can be found on Added Blackwell, "Given the positive feedback we've received from attendees, we hope to create an annual marine marketing summit to bring the industry's marketers together to ensure our industry has access to the most effective marketing intelligence for targeting potential new buyers."