Butts in Boats? A New Concept in Marketing!

selling marketing boats

marketing planRethink your marine marketing with a focus on getting butts onto and into boats

The end result of nearly every advertising, marketing, or sales promotion effort, using digital or legacy-based media is to “sell something.” Retailers need to get bodies to fill clothing lines, fill their bellies, or cover their feet with socks, shoes, and more. Airlines love to get people into seats for the simple purpose of staying profitable.

For the marine-based industries, it is even simpler than you think: Our goal is to get butts onto and into boats!

Are you having a problem filling this need?

If you missed your sales quotas—missing filling your boats, charters with butts and all those linked purchases—the solution is pretty simple and easy to institute:

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That may be overstating a bit. After all, advertising is the big picture, but, at this stage in our economic cycle, the big picture is not what is necessarily needed.

We marine marketers need to focus on the smaller picture. We need to tell a more targeted specific story, and, quite honestly, that should be your big (or small) picture now. Large media advertising simply does not, at this current time, work its magic as well as other more targeted media messages.

Ads are great for branding, developing awareness, and exploring the big picture, but we are done with the big picture today, and expensive, broad-reach advertising has left the room. Elvis is gone, and a new world of “butts based marketing” is in our sights right below the horizon.

If not advertising, then what?

Promote, sales promote

Why? The seven pillars of sales promotion (see definition below) are designed from the very onset to tell unique stories. Not one story, but many unique stories focused on the many different needs, desires, wants, and demographically focused.

Storytelling about the uniqueness of your marine product or service is where your future and the future of the marine marketing industry lies.

Associations like the NMMA, firms like Bonnier Publishing, and companies such as AIM will cover the needs of the big picture via their show support and vast communications networks, they are and have been and will continued to supportive partners. That is fine. Their big picture style ads will not only benefit us but will also benefit them. Not a bad idea, right? After all, we are (pardon the pun) all in the same boat. My butt sits next to your butt in the life raft of profit advocacy.

Profit is our lifeline; profit is what keeps us all in business—manufacturers, dealers, retailers, associations, publishers, and the other members of our interlinked, interrelated communications anchor chain. That chain keeps us safe in the economic storms that routinely hit our industry and allows the industry to re-build, re-fit, and re-format when the cycle calls for that need.

Your narrative will be different in some ways from my narrative, but in some ways they will be the same. An important aspect of your storytelling is recognizing the demographic and audiences differences and being able to decide which media tools to use and when.

The key is to adapt your story so that it fits your listeners/readers/viewers as closely as possible. To do this, big media ads (even strategic ones) cannot in the end deliver the magic. Remember, you (your firm) need to place butts in boats. Your brand needs to delve deeply into your targeted demographic and start to create narratives that not only focus on the customer’s potential experience but must focus on the doing, the accomplishment, the end result of the story being told.

Seven Pillars of Sales Promotion

Look on your target market as a pizza, a pizza topped with meatballs, veggies, and pepperoni. Now slice that pie traditionally, and you will, in most cases, have 8 slices, covering eight demographics. However, the true count of prospects for your marketing pizza is more than eight when you consider the slices as demographics.

You must also consider the individual ingredients as sub-sectional demographics; the sauces, the cheese, the crust, the topping are all individual prospects. It is tough to cover or address these layers of prospects with big media but not so tough if you use an integrated mix of the seven pillars of sales promotion (including adverts) to get to the qualified, interested prospects into your sales workflow.

Sales promotion not only allows you to be of greater value to the consumer, but also to develop stories that fit their specific interests. You will and must use a type of media that has increased value when viewed by the recipients Sales promotion fits the need.

Seven has been a magic number since pre-biblical times!

The Seven Pillars begin with advertising, but enable you to replace big picture ads with highly targeted ads, inserts, custom publishing that addresses the potential or desired lifestyles of your market.

ROP – Run Of Press is an outdated concept, for this conversation at least! Do not stop advertising, but test your advertising against other more personal marketing tools, most publishers will be very supportive and may even offer options to your request to test your marketing spend!

Direct Marketing—It’s something we all currently do, but the messaging needs to change to focus more directly on why’s and how’s and to stress the individual benefits that the prospect will gain from answering your call to action!

If you use mobile or other interactive media, consider expanding or updating your apps and the tools that support your efforts. To better understand why this is necessary, need a reason, check out MobileBridge’s latest white paper. Consider moving into the future before your competition. Consider a brand-based interactive narrative (BBIN) or video game that is a combination of a marketing message and a tool that can allow the user to establish dialogue and start the process of engagement with your firm.

Sales Promotion—The magic solution to temporarily increasing your sales by arming your distribution channels with a consistent, effective message based not only on content but also on context. In short, make the message relevant to your market.

If you’re using Public Relations, consider that PR is a great brand builder, a fantastic tool to “place” news that’s relevant, that relates and integrates with your overall consumer- or prospect-based messaged.

Personal Selling is a great tool, but, as with other industries, the marine industry rarely brands internally if at all. At a recent boat show, the poor, nearly comical quality of not only the sales teams but also the presentation of their messages appalled me.

Exhibitions or events—As much as I think these tools have a valid future, they have lost the glamour and excitement of the customer experience and perhaps fog in the customer’s journey. Begin to think of ways that experiential marketing, AR, IR, and gaming (BBIN) will supplement – add to the annual shows and, when correctly integrated, will become a defined active selling partner of the boat show process. Remember selling via a boat show or event is a three-stage effort, pre-show, at the show and post show!


You cannot disagree with this argument. I am right in stating that our goal is to get butts in boats—as buyers, charterers, users, sailors, fisherman, recreational boaters and more. You can disagree with the methods I am suggesting, but, based on my experience, you would be off course.

Need some assistance, a life preserver tossed into the mix sea, call me at 917.597,1891, email me at thad.kubis@tifmc.org and I will provide 30-minutes of free, no obligation consultation personalized to your needs!


An old Alka-Seltzer ad once said it best—try it, you’ll like it!


Thaddeus Kubis

View posts by Thaddeus Kubis
Offering integrated marketing/media communication consultant based services; my broad skill set is founded on profit advocacy and ROI – Where marketing becomes dialogue and engagement! Integrated Marketing • Media Convergence • Profit Advocacy • Multi-Media Management • Forensic Marketing Analysis thad.kubis@tifmc.org 917.597.1891
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