Simple Low-Cost Co-Marketing Ideas to Grow Your Business in Boating

marketing plansupply chain co-marketing

How to leverage joint marketing opportunities and resources with your supply chain partners to cost-effectively extend your market reach

Much like the auto industry, the boating industry is very interdependent. We are an industry of manufacturers, suppliers, service providers and dealers – each one an important component of the supply chain to sustain recreational boating. Although we certainly have competition at each level, we also have many opportunities to work together to grow our marine businesses.

Marketing is one area where I think it’s very easy to share resources with boating industry partners and accomplish joint marketing efforts that are mutually beneficial. With tight marketing budgets for businesses both big and small, you can really maximize limited budgets by sharing resources in terms of marketing dollars, staff, digital assets and more. You and your partners each have a vested interest in expanding your audience and building your businesses.

Co-marketing efforts with boat builders and dealers has been a big part of our growth strategy at SureShade. When a new boat model debuts our shade as a factory-install option or standard feature we aggressively co-market that new boat model. We leverage the news (along with photos and videos from builder photo shoots) in press releases, blog posts, social media and website features. We also offer co-marketing support to dealers that sell our shade on new boat models or as an aftermarket installation with online and offline marketing materials.

SureShade’s partnership co-marketing efforts has resulted in growing our brand and business faster than we could have ever done on our own. Our brand awareness (and sales) has grown dramatically in a few short years… all with a very limited marketing budget. As we prepare for the 2013 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show with an expected 23 boat models to showcase our shade (doubled from just 8 months ago in Miami), I can’t help but reflect on the value of co-marketing.

Based on my experiences and observances, here are some simple strategies and ideas to leverage your relationships to build both your brand and business with co-marketing.

Share Publicity

  • Use quotes from your customers or suppliers in your press releases
  • Team-up for joint press releases that can get double the visibility
  • Create client testimonials for your website and marketing materials
  • Showcase your top dealers, best suppliers or partners

Create Joint Promotions or Incentives

  • Work with partners in the boating industry (or with companies with similar demographics or geographic boundaries) to create special sales promotions that are a win-win (Marine marketing veteran Wanda Kenton Smith shares a lot of great ideas on this topic in a 2011 TradeOnly article on partner marketing in the boating industry)
  • Pass along dealer incentives that will encourage dealers to sell your boat models or options

Split the Cost

  • From advertising to boat shows, splitting the cost can stretch a limited budget
  • Leverage OEM co-marketing dollars as much as possible to maximize marketing efforts

Share Photos and Digital Media

  • Extend your investment in professional photography by making it easily accessible to partners and suppliers (offer it to them – don’t wait for them to ask!)
  • Turn every sales rep, dealer or team member into an amateur photographer to capture photos and videos at events to share online – digital photos and videos are essentially free and easy to share on social media
  • Ask customers to take pictures or video using your marine products or services – there is nothing better than seeing boaters using or enjoying your products

Team up for Events

  • Ask dealers or builders to showcase your product at boat shows
  • Create local or regional mini “boat show” events at other locations or special events by partnering with local businesses
  • Team up locally with other marine businesses on National Marina Day or other local boating celebration

Generate More Content

  • Offer to write a guest blog post as a contributor as a low-cost way to get additional exposure for your marine business and showcase yourself as an industry expert (also promote the additional content you created in your own social media efforts)
  • Create special how-to or informational guides that will be useful for your partners to share with their customers – extending your reach and giving them some value-add content. (Infographics are also great content resources easily shared online)

Get Socially Connected

  • Make social connections with all boating industry partners that benefit your business – be everywhere that they are and be active on social media
  • Be generous with your likes, tweets, shares, +1’s and comments – your generosity promoting your partners on social media will likely be returned

At the end of the day, we are all in this industry to sell more boats, boating supplies and services. If we can collaborate with our supply chain partners along the way by leveraging marketing resources and promotional opportunities, we can better serve our industry as a whole.

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Dana Russikoff

Business Leader & Co-Founder at SureShade
As the Business Leader and Co-Founder at SureShade - The Shady Side of Boating, Dana is responsible for all business development with boat builders and dealers. Installed on over 35 different boat brands globally and available as a factory-install feature or aftermarket upgrade, SureShade is the new standard for shade in the marine industry.