Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Be Thankful

(0:45) It's Thanksgiving week here in the US. It's a time to stop and reflect on the many good things in our lives. I know I'm thankful for my husband, my dogs, my family and friends. I'm thankful I can live on my boat full time and be a part of this wonderful cruising community.

(0:39) I'm thankful for the many, many scores of boaters who support what we do with ActiveCaptain. They share their knowledge and experience to make the entire community better.

(0:34) I'm thankful for the marinas that support us directly, through their own contributions to the ActiveCaptain data, and by acknowledging and acting on the feedback boaters provide them.

(0:29) There's a new feedback loop of boaters sharing their experience with other boaters and the marinas. Marinas are listening, responding, and then working to be better. It creates one of those rare instances when everyone wins. Boaters have better choices, marinas have more business, and the boating community grows.

(0:21) What are you thankful for?

(0:19) Don't forget to thank the boaters that support you through their visits and reviews. Thank them verbally. Thank them through your kindnesses. Always thank them for their feedback.

(0:14) Whenever a boater writes a review use the private messaging feature to send a personal thank you:

(0:10) I thank you for reading my Minutes, for supporting our work, and for welcoming us as boaters into your marinas.

(0:07) It's easy to become caught up in the day to day worries, problems, and aggravation. Today take a moment to stop and focus on what you are thankful for.

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

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


(1:03) In all aspects of life, nothing is more important than good communications. It can prevent bad situations from happening and reduce their effect when they do occur.

(0:58) It is rare to see a negative review that does not involve a lack of communications, inadequate communications, or just plain bad communications. It is critical that you provide boaters with the communications they need, whether it is good VHF radio skills, a well put together welcome packet, or adequate signage. If you are a boatyard this is true, tenfold. You have to keep boaters abreast of progress, set backs, and costs.

(0:48) Within the ActiveCaptain website and the new Locations app, there are several ways for you to communicate with boaters about reviews, information, specials, and customer service issues.

(0:43) Some are broad reaching, such as ensuring your ActiveCaptain data is current and accurate. ActiveCaptain Partners can go a step further and promote their unique appeal, upcoming events, and specials using their Pro-Op, Cross Promotion, and Co-Op messages. Make sure you are taking advantage of these powerful tools.

(0:36) You can also reach out to a boater in a more direct and personal way. Communicate privately with boaters who have written a review to thank them, apologize, or gain more information by using the captain's messaging feature on the website. You can find instructions here:

(0:29) ActiveCaptain Partners can publicly address a specific review by utilizing the Management Response feature. A Management Response can be a great way to tell boaters that you are interested in their feedback and that you take customer service seriously. You can find more information in the Marina's Guide to ActiveCaptain:

(0:22) There is now also messaging through Boater Locations. The forms of communication mentioned above are what I think of as passive - boaters bring up the ActiveCaptain data or find a message on the website or in their email inbox. Messaging through Locations is an active form of communications. The message is actually pushed out to the boater. The boater can even have their phone or tablet alert them that a message has been received.

(0:13) While this form of messaging can be extremely powerful, it is important that it be used with great care. Boater privacy is paramount in Locations, so much so, that a boater has the ability to block messages from a given source. Don't be that source.

(0:06) I will be exploring this new Boater Locations capability over the coming weeks. Together I want us to learn how to use it so we all win.

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

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Using Boater Locations, Part 1

(1:02) I've been getting you ready for the new capabilities of Locations for some time now. Many boaters have been utilizing the new features to enhance their experience on the water. It's time for our Partners to get involved and use these capabilities to better satisfy boater needs and generate more business.

(0:55) Locations provides boaters with an interactive community where they can find friends and other boaters with like interests. Through Locations they can communicate with other boaters, follow them as they travel, and even meet up along the way. Staying connected through this community can greatly enhance the experience of cruising.

(0:48) ActiveCaptain Partners are a part of the community as well. Over the coming weeks and months I'll be showing how you can best be a valuable member. The key will be adding value and not just noise to the community.

(0:43) We are starting this adventure together, learning as we go. It will take creativity, patience, and most importantly, listening to boaters. Remember, this is primarily the boaters' community and you want to be a welcomed member.

(0:38) So what should you do first? If you do not already have an eBoatCards account now is the time to set yours up. It's simple.

(0:35) Go to www.eBoatCards.com and enter your ActiveCaptain account information (email and password) in the upper right. Select Login. It will step you through the process. The next step is to email me with your account information so that I can turn on your Partner designation. If you are a Partner that already has an electronic boat card account without a partner designation, email me as well.

(0:27) Now you can begin to explore. Once logged in, click on Boater Locations on the left. This allows you to see the location of ActiveCaptain boaters who have allowed access to Partners. The first time you select this option you will see a zoomed out view of a map. As you zoom in and pan the map you will begin to see markers.

(0:19) Click on a marker to see basic information about the boater. Notice the Send Message button. This is used to send a message to that boater. But don't use that just yet. Future Minutes will discuss how best to use this capability.

(0:13) Note, a boater can block any account that sends an unwanted message. This powerful capability needs to be carefully understood before using it.

(0:08) For now become familiar with the features and with the boaters who are passing though your area. Begin to think about how you might reach out to them in ways they will want. Do this well and you will see more business.

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

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Focus Your Message

(1:07) Previously, I introduced you to "The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing" by Al Ries & Jack Trout and highlighted Law # 15 - Candor.

(1:01) Law #5 is Focus: The key to success in marketing is to find an effective way to come to own a word in the mind of the prospect.

(0:57) To me this says that to be truly successful you must be able to concisely state why (and where) you win. You want some word or concept that defines you against your competition. When looking for this word or concept Ries & Trout recommend:

  • The simpler the better.
  • You can't focus on any word that doesn't have proponents for the opposite point of view. (For example, you can't own the word "quality", because everybody stands for that and nobody stands for "the lack of quality".)
  • The narrower and more precise the focus, the more you will achieve.
  • The most effective words are benefit oriented.

(0:45) This reinforces a concept I've discussed before about the importance of knowing what defines your "perfect customer." While the notion of "everyone is our customer" may seem appealing, in reality it leads to a lack of focus which leads to a waste of resources.

(0:38) Find your focus and make that the emphasis of everything you do.

(0:35) Closely related is Law #6, Exclusivity: No two companies can own the same word in the mind of the prospect or customer.

(0:31) Trying to steal away the word or concept already owned by a competitor will only serve to reinforce their position in the market. Asking people to change their minds about a notion will only make them uncomfortable. They will do so infrequently. In reality, using your competitor's word or concept will only make them think of your competitor.

(0:21) You must find a unique word that you can focus on owning by discovering what makes you different from your competition. Then focus on owning that word. Use it throughout your marketing, even consider using it for the password to your WiFi access.

(0:11) Is there a boater who has cruised through the US East Coast that hasn't heard, "32 ounce prime rib" and not thought of Coinjock Marina?

(0:06) Find your focus, use it consistently, and you can win the minds of your potential customers. That's good for business.

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