Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Timing is Everything

(1:05) Even the most compelling message can fall short if your timing is off. Do you know when potential customers are perusing your data? It may not be when you think. The right message at the right time is key to success.

(0:59) To gain the maximum benefit you need to reach me when I am planning my cruising and this typically happens far ahead of time. While it is certainly possible to deliver a message or offer so compelling that I would change my plans later, it is far easier to fit into my original planning process.

(0:52) We have an interesting perspective as we watch the activity in the ActiveCaptain database throughout the year. I'll use the US east coast snowbird migration path as an example route, something we are extremely familiar with. First, let's look at the physical movement of the snowbirds.

(0:46) At our homeport in Maine, summer is obviously the busiest cruising time. And the activity increase stretches down through Long Island and south as cruisers search for cooler summer temperatures. Movement begins south in the fall with a bunching of cruisers in the Chesapeake Bay and mid-Atlantic as they wait for hurricane season to end in the south. Then there's a rush south as they search for warmer temperatures with many ending up in Florida, the Bahamas, and Caribbean for the winter. It all reverses in the spring as the heat and hurricane season moves cruisers back north again.

(0:32) However, this timing of activity is not what we see happening in the ActiveCaptain database. While the activity levels have a similar ebb and flow, the planning being done is happening much earlier.

(0:27) Looking at the same general areas, we see activity increases occurring 3-6 months before the boats start moving. For example, the boaters viewing ActiveCaptain data in the Chesapeake Bay starts to pick up in the winter and peaks in the early spring. Florida area viewing is busy in the summer/fall and actually reduces a bit in the winter. This happens because cruisers have already made their decisions about where they will be.

(0:17) If you want to have the maximum impact for your marketing message, you need to be getting it out when cruisers are actually forming their plans and not only when they are implementing them. Getting into a boater's plans during the formation period is when you'll get a boater to stay with you for weeks or months instead of just overnight too.

(0:10) I was reminded of this when one of our more savvy partners, Atlantic Yacht Basin, began promoting summer storage in February. That's smart timing. Many snowbirds look for a safe place to store their boat during hurricane season so they can travel back to their home ports. It's something we have done several times ourselves. Wait another couple months and most of us will have already made our decisions and you'd be too late at attracting us.

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