Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Digital Checkup

(1:07) Keeping your digital presence current is a topic I periodically address. That's because it is one of the most common issues I see when working with marinas. The internet's power is in it's immediacy. You cannot treat it like the stale paper media of the past.

(0:59) There is a reason we continue to see long standing paper media fall away. They simply can't match the timeliness we've all come to expect. Boaters want to know what you have to offer today, not last week, and certainly not last month or last year.

(0:52) If you doubt how the consumer experience has changed, revisit my ZMOT series which starts here:

(0:48) So it's critical for your digital presence to match the expectations of your customers. When was the last time you updated your website? Is your ActiveCaptain marker filled in and up-to-date? How about your ActiveCaptain Pro-Op message?

(0:41) It is a terrible mistake to treat any of your internet content in a "set it and forget it" mode. Pricing, amenity or service offerings, staff, and events, are some things that change over time. It must be someone's job to check these on a regular basis. Do not leave it to fate.

(0:34) Ideally, your website should be designed so that you or someone on your staff can easily make modifications to the dynamic portions. If it is difficult or costly to make those changes, you are less likely to do them. And not keeping your content current sends a poor message. Seeing an announcement for an event that is months or years old on your homepage will make me question whether I can trust any of the information I see. Update your website regularly. Depending on your focus, that could mean daily, weekly, or monthly updates.

(0:21) Fortunately, keeping your ActiveCaptain data current is simple. check out the Marina's Guide to ActiveCaptain if you need guidance:

(0:17) I often find ActiveCaptain Sponsor Pro-Op and Cross Promotion messages that are long past their usefulness. Make sure you are updating your messages to reflect changing seasons, upcoming special events, and special offers. Don't hesitate to experiment. Remember that the power of this digital medium is that you are in control and can change your message as often as you wish. This will generate interest and freshness and attract boaters to come see what's new.

(0:07) Make sure that you are using every tool in your arsenal effectively. Do a digital checkup today of your website and ActiveCaptain content.

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

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Know Your Customer

(0:59) I write a lot about providing the services and amenities that will draw in boaters. These past few weeks I've been reminded that it is just as important to know who is not your customer.

(0:53) We have been traveling marina to marina visiting Sponsors. It's a chance for us to give some personal assistance and talk about what's coming. It's also a terrific learning experience for me. Many of my Minute ideas have come from things I have observed and learned at Sponsor marinas we have visited.

(0:46) This past week we have been at a wide variety of marinas from a homey do-it-yourself community to a high-end resort to a marina struggling to overcome their past and win back boaters. The key to success in each instance is understanding the marina's positioning and communicating the strengths to their target customers. It's also just as important knowing when the marina is not a good fit.

(0:37) I am fond of using restaurants as an example because we've all been to a wide variety of them. Successful ones have been able to position themselves so they attract the right consumer at the right time and are able to set their customers' expectations so they walk away satisfied.

(0:30) I hope it's safe to say you wouldn't choose McDonald's for a special anniversary dinner. Nor would you select a high-end French restaurant for a toddler's birthday party. You know where each of those restaurants fits because they have properly positioned themselves in your mind.

(0:23) Knowing what you do well and what you are not able to provide allows you to focus your marketing efforts. You won't waste money on promotions that miss the mark. Instead you can spend money on promotions, events, and amenities that will satisfy your target boater's needs.

(0:16) Can you describe your perfect customer? That boater who would be crazy not to spend time at your marina? Think about it. It encompasses the boat, their boater, and the specific needs the boater has at a given time. This last point is important. Like my restaurant example, what a boater needs in a marina one week may be different during the next week.

(0:07) Having a realistic understanding of your marina's positioning in the boating community will not only focus your time and money, it is critical to success.

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

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Make It Personal

(0:53) Those first interactions dockside will set the tone for a transient visit. A well trained and friendly dockhand not only makes the docking experience a positive one, it starts the boater in a positive place for the rest of their stay.

(0:46) While first and foremost I want a dockhand who is competent and attentive, adding a personal touch will make me feel really welcomed and that goes a long way to ensuring I'll enjoy my stay and return. Dockhands should greet me at the dock as if I'm a new arrival in their neighborhood - because basically I am!

(0:39) Too often the boater is tied up, plugged in, and then left to their own devices. Instead give me a handshake, tell me your name, and welcome me to your marina. Ask me if there is anything I need, maybe tell me about happy hour or on a hot day where the pool is.

(0:32) Try to remember something personal about me and use it during my stay. My name would be terrific but honestly, as someone who has great problems remembering names, it could easily be something else. Where I'm from, pets I have onboard, or the team logo that I'm sporting on my jacket can all be things remembered and acted on to make my stay special.

(0:24) Some marinas keep notes on boaters who have come in before so they can remember their power requirements and slip preferences. How about including that I have dogs onboard and meeting my boat with a couple of treats in hand and information about a new dog park? Or maybe I love the oysters at your bar and remind me that Happy Hour includes two for one.

(0:15) High-end hotels have offered these sorts of special touches for years. Marinas can learn a lot from them about building customer loyalty. Start thinking about the kinds of things that are important to your customers and how you can bring the personal touch to the boaters coming into your marina.

(0:08) It's often the little things that one remembers the most. Make sure that all of the aspects of a boater's stay are special, both the big and the little. I'll not only become a loyal customer, I'll tell others as well.

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

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Price vs Value

(1:07) Pricing is a complicated issue. I would even argue that it is possibly the trickiest of the Four P's of Marketing (product, price, placement, promotion). It encompasses your costs, profit, competition, quality, location, and numerous other factors.

(1:02) I have heard some interesting comments over the years about pricing. One marina manager, unhappy with a 3 star review that complained about their dockage price being too high, wrote me, "Boaters can't rate a marina based on price." Oh really?

(0:55) I witnessed an online exchange from a boater questioning the fee for a boating club. He asked, "What do I really get for my money?" The response was a list of the costs for the organization (offices, salaries, mailings). The boater replied, "You've told me why you need my money but not why I should pay it." Study that response - it's brilliant because it puts pricing into the perspective of your customers.

(0:47) The problem comes when you think in terms of price only. You have to think about the value to boaters because that's how I will look at it when making my plans. A nearby competitor might charge more than you but have more amenities or a better location. They can charge more and still be seen as offering good value. In this situation, raising your price because the surrounding facilities have higher prices will hurt your perceived value and cost you business.

(0:37) You can still successfully compete if you price your services properly so boaters will view you as a good value as well. Not every restaurant is a 5 star gourmet treat. That doesn't mean that a mom and pop restaurant or a dependable chain can't find success. The key is providing value. I love this definition I found online:

(0:30) "The real essence of value revolves around the tradeoff between the benefits a customer receives from a product and the price he or she pays for it."

(0:25) If you wish to charge a higher price, you'd better be offering me a greater benefit - a better location, nicer amenities, better service or an unusual service, maybe a faster turn around. And remember, the key is not how you perceive your benefits but how your boater-customers perceive them.

(0:18) The sweet spot is when you are able to deliver perceived value greater than what the boater is paying. While your competition plays a key role in your perceived value and therefore your pricing, it's not as simple as just meeting or beating your competitor's price. To price effectively you need to understand your value verse your competition and then determine whether to price at a premium or a discount.

(0:08) Pricing your service too high or too low can have a detrimental impact on your business. Pricing your service just right can mean more boaters, repeat customers, and more profits.

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