Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Meaningful Incentive Programs

(0:58) What can you do that will make better use of the money you are currently "spending" on discounts? And let's be clear, if your discounts are simply offering money off to boaters already coming into your marina, you're just writing a check and getting nothing in return.

(0:52) The first thing you need to do is to determine where you want or need to grow your business. Are there services you offer that are underutilized? Is there a day of the week where business is usually slow? Or a month? Or a season? Is there a specific type or size of boat you wish to attract? Until you decide what behavior you wish to effect, you can't develop a meaningful incentive program. Make a list on paper as a starting point for what you want to change.

(0:42) Once you have decided what you wish to accomplish then you can begin working on the incentive that will produce the desired behavior. For example, if you have times when your marina is under-filled you can offer deeper discounts to boaters during those times with no discounts for the remaining times. This allows you to focus your discounts so that they can be large enough to actually attract and change behavior.

(0:33) It doesn't always have to be a straight monetary incentive. Do you have a new or under utilized service, maybe a restaurant, maintenance capabilities, or a hotel? Think about offering packages where boaters can experience the service. Encourage them to write a review to let other boaters know about it.

(0:25) Think about attracting groups of boaters traveling together. This is the marina equivalent of "going viral." If you provide enough incentive for 3+ boats to come in pre-reserving space together, they'll talk up the opportunity to their friends to try and put the deal together. That puts your name in front of more people in a way where they do all the work to make the stay possible.

(0:16) By approaching your discounts in this fashion you can not only make far better use of your resources, you can do things that will get you remembered long past the offer. Honestly, I couldn't begin to tell you which marinas we've visited offered a BoatUS discount and which did not. But I still remember the marina that offered free dockage.

(0:08) Make your incentive programs count. Do them strategically, thoughtfully, and with specific measurable goals in mind. It takes more effort up front but it is far more likely to deliver the results you want.

(0:02) And that's the marina minute.