One of the unfortunate consequences of the almost limitless access to information by the grace and technology of mobile phones and other IT artefacts, is paradoxically how easy it is to get such information.
Many times, we summon the Wikipedia to find out something we are interested in. That is already good: knowing and using your resources. But how deep are we ready to go to satisfy our curiosity or desire to acquire knowledge? In general, very little. Our curiosity will be fed enough with the first one or two lines of the subject article. It is info zapping: a glimpse is enough, we are ready for the next chat, WhatsApp funny video, Instagram picture or a CNN headline. That is actually what occupies most of our mobile time online.
In fact, and as reported by Comscore, a US company dedicated to analysing online use, age-defined online use is distributed as follows
As it can be seen, there is not a generational difference in time spent online. Everybody does it, and with similar frequency.
If we check mobile use minutes compared with digital use minutes, Indonesia and India lead the world with 91% of online time being done on a mobile, while EU is around the mid-70s and both the USA and UK are on 77%. It is a lot of use on the mobile. Desktop is still the choice to make purchases, but mobile is out there tempting us, sending us info, the weather and some private communication exchange.
We at the nautical industry know that we have to reach out to the customer, and that involves creating a rich, informative message, one that will not make the customer run to his desktop to purchase a new 50’ motorboat, but it will make the client switch to the shipyard website, call a friend who had or has an experience with them, and eventually set up a meeting with someone in the sales department. Swift, efficient, ideal.
How far will the initial message be from the reality of a physical visit? Most people do not read more than 30 or 40 words of a message or advertising. With that input, they make (mostly unconsciously) the decision of keep reading or jumping to the next message.
The sales messaging in the leisure marine market has not innovated and changed along with the developments of design, usual use of boats, or user age tendencies. The hospitality sector has, luxury vehicle sector has, applying the last known trends to draw the client’s attention to the core message. It involves colours, motion, form, people’s attire, background. We have stayed behind. The message to be shown in computers, tablets and mobiles (and specially these last ones) has to be a short one with solid content, inviting the reader to take the next step, either through generated interest or curiosity, but it has to catch the attention of the consumer with few words. A few years ago, the NMMA campaign of “Discover Yachting” was very innovating with short videos with very little or no text but carrying a huge message understandable by everybody. Thom Dammrich, at the time president of NMMA, mentioned the old nautical adagio of “there are two happy days in the life of a boat owner: the day you buy your boat and the day you sell your boat” and issued his own version at a METS breakfast keynote speech: “there are two happy days in the life of a boat owner: Saturday and Sunday”. It was a clear message that changed the thoughts of many industry and future nautical enthusiasts.
If not abandoning the old ways, we must learn the reception process of those we send the message to. In the marina business we have adopted hotel and hospitality practices since the early 2000. In 2008, deciding the profile of dockhands for a new Dubai marina, the decision was taken of recruiting hotel trained personnel instead of fishermen or sailors: customer service was the #1 priority. We could train client service professionals to tie knots.
We need to engage specialists to help us develop the message we want to send. It can sound a bit extreme, and that feeling can also come from our reluctance to accept ways we are not used too. We are a conservative bunch, but we are dependent on the image our potential client has made of us in his mind. And our potential client’s thinking is changing fast, and we must be ready to act upon those changes. Shall we say, “ideal for the whole family” or “even your mother-in-law will love it” or “your pets will feel like Tritons”? We must start looking at other sectors and see which successful marketing and communication practices there are that we can adopt for the marine sector.
Around 15 years ago, I was laughing with my travel agent about a friend of mine who told me he was going to start buying airline tickets through Internet. I thought he was a freak.
Oscar Siches CMP , GMBA Spain
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N.B. Global Marine Business Advisors and its associated website www.gmba.blue are not registered legal entities. GMBA is a network of independent marine industry advisors.