Before we begin, you should ask yourself why you would take boat show marketing ideas from our website. Know your source. MarineSEO is a marine marketing agency. We are in the business of growing marine businesses. Marine marketing is what we do.
Marine industry marketing is like most other marketing efforts, but with a few key differences. The boat show marketing ideas in this guide should work for trade shows, exhibitions and marine events.
If you have begun working on your marketing, you’re doing it just in time, because the “recreational boating industry dollar sales are expected to rise between 10-11 percent from $8.4 billion in 2016” 
Why Do You Want to Get Noticed?
“A goal properly set is halfway reached.” — Zig Ziglar
Writing down your goal is the best way to maintain focus on it. Studies have shown that writing your goals will significantly increase your likelihood to achieve them. 
So you might know what you want to get our of the boat show or event, but be sure to write it down. Ideally, you want one or more of the following.
- More leads.
- To build brand recognition.
- To increase traffic to your website.
- To find partner businesses.
- To build relationships within the marine community.
The last point is important. The marine community is tight knit, so be sure to make a good impression on those around you.
Boat shows, and trade events are small windows of opportunity. The best way to get the most out of a trade show, is to be prepared for it and no other boat show marketing ideas will even work unless you’re prepared for the rough seas of the trade show floor.
- Prepare everything you need for the trade show. Ensure that everything arrives a week before the show. Don’t rush.
- Prepare your mindset. You will get a new client, you will pitch a new partner.
- Be prepared to network, don’t just stay at your booth. Make friends.
- Research the other vendors and look for potential partners.
- Make a profile of the ideal customer you would find at the trade show, know who you are looking for.
- Promote your business being at the boat show through Facebook ads.
- Create a blog about the show BEFORE and promote it on Facebook.
- Take notes at the event and write a very detailed follow up AFTER the boat show.
- Create business cards with a specific URL or phone number which will allow you to measure ROI.
- Be sure to bring your best sales staff. This is an opportunity and they should be there!
Cover all 10 of these points and you will be way ahead of the competition.
Making big waves in the marine industry means starting with the basics first. Sure, some of these aren’t really flashy or new boat show marketing ideas, but they still work.
- Wear brand shirts.
- Leave stickers and pamphlets on every surface.
- Put something in the swag bags that the organizers hand out.
- Live blog and post to social media throughout the event.
- Be sure to follow up any leads you get at the boat show, very quickly.
But just because it’s old doesn’t mean it won’t work. Putting the effort into writing blog posts will set you apart from the competition.
Tricks and Lures in Your Tackle Box
Hype and Crowd Attention
The old salesmen on the new jersey shore and Coney Island all had a secret trick. They kept people at their booths for as long as possible. The reason is simple: if people are crowding around something, then more will come to see. Make your booth interactive and have enough staff to ensure that people can interact for longer.
Be the Best Looking Boat in the Dock
Be the peacock – be noticeable. Make your giveaways very bright, colorful and flashy so when others wear it, it will stand out.
Emotions Trump Logic
Play to emotion not logic. Find out what your potential emotional need is and then go after it. You do this by listening. Most people go to trade shows ready to talk, you should go ready to listen. You will learn more about the market, your potential clients and you will be able to sell to them by listening to their needs and putting your answers in those terms.
Give out prototypes and samples. Yes, it is more expensive but an experience is far more valuable than an elevator pitch.
Infographic added June 30, 2020.