The boating industry has gone through an interesting couple of years, to say the least. Even as several businesses have been forced to close down due to the challenges brought about by the pandemic, boat sellers have seen a sharp increase in demand. The number of first-time buyers is at an all-time high, and the market seems to have attracted a younger crowd.
Of course, there remain significant challenges in the boating industry. Risk exposure continues to be a crucial factor in the success and longevity of businesses in this sector, so getting marina insurance is just as important as ever. Even so, the boom in boat sales is undeniable and promising.
Unsurprisingly, sales tend to pick up in the months leading up to the peak season. Consequently, many marina owners ramp up their marketing and customer services during these periods. But customer engagement shouldn’t be limited to peak seasons. In fact, a point could be made that marketing and communications should be bolstered when sales are traditionally in decline. Doing so helps even out sales performance, which in turn could improve the company’s bottom line.
Here are some suggestions on how marina owners can improve customer engagement during the off-season:
Connect with customers on a more personal level
Few customer engagement strategies are more effective than employing a personal touch. Customers are always on the lookout for the best deals and the most value, of course. But all other factors being equal, it is the sense of dealing with a company that relates to them on a personal level that will sway the customer’s purchase decision.
Personalized customer service also has a way of ensuring that casual buyers become long-term customers. After purchasing a boat, boating supplies, accessories, or services from a marina, it is the favorable relationship forged with the company that will keep customers coming back.
Keep up with the events even during the off-season
Operations don’t have to cease when off-season comes‒in fact, they rarely do. There are many things marina owners can do to keep their brand in the minds of existing customers and attract new ones to the fold. Phone calls, SMS, online chats, and even emails can be powerful and effective tools for off-season engagement, especially if your client has news of an event to share.
The event doesn’t even have to be anything major. Some marina owners have racked up favorable attendance numbers for webinars and even safety tips. From an engagement standpoint, the important thing is for customers to have the brand in mind constantly.
Publicize next season’s plans
If your client has definitive plans for the next boating season, the off-season is the perfect time to share them. The beauty of working in a seasonal industry is that there is often plenty of time to assess and analyze operations to figure out key areas for development and improvement. After your client has figured out the focus for next season, they can publicize these to their customers to generate and maintain interest.
Almost anything can be useful fodder for publicity. Customers will appreciate being kept in the loop, whether the marina announces plans to improve the customer experience, introduces a new line of products or services, or implements a major direction shift.
Maintain an active social media presence
Social media has become the de facto battleground for all things related to marketing and promotions. Nowadays, maintaining an active social media presence is a must regardless of the nature of the business or industry niche. Marina owners would do well to use the various social media platforms available to answer questions, promote products and services, and otherwise engage with customers.
Thankfully, utilizing social media is extremely inexpensive and even free. Anyone can build a blog or Facebook page, so all it takes is for your clients to populate their channels with relevant and interesting content that will keep their audiences engaged. This can be an especially effective strategy, particularly during the off-season.
Effective communications and customer engagement can be challenging for marina owners, especially for single proprietors. Most of your clients probably already have their hands full with the day-to-day tasks of running the marina.
But engaging with customers can be simplified by utilizing customer relationship management (CRM) software. These tools effectively replace manual processes for customer engagement, streamline communication, and ensure repeat business when the boating season picks up again.
About Merrimac Marine Insurance
At Merrimac Marine, we are dedicated to providing insurance for the marine industry to protect your clients’ business and assets. For more information about our products and programs, contact our specialists today at (800) 681-1998.