Storytelling has been with us since before the beginning of recorded history. It’s an innate trait of human beings to hear and create stories; it’s how we make sense of our world. Scientists tell us that “the human mind is a story processor, not a logic processor.”
Storytelling is a powerful means of captivating an audience and relating occurrences both fact and fictional. No wonder it’s become an essential marketing tool for modern brands, especially in the boating industry.
3 Reasons Boating Brands Should Leverage Storytelling as a Marketing Tool
1) Stories create deeper connections with your audience. We’ve written about how boat owners don’t just buy your products; they buy into your brand culture. They want to belong to a community of folks who love being out on the water for a shared purpose, whether that’s deep-water fishing or inland lake recreation.
2) Stories educate your prospects about why your product matches their needs and interests. Buying a boat is a major decision, and future owners spend hours researching online, consulting consumer publications, test-driving with boat-owning friends, and studying models and specs on your website. Since we’re wired to learn via storytelling, content about your brand and products deliver essential information to your potential customers.
3) Stories capture the experience of boat ownership. As those of us who love fishing and boating know, a boat isn’t just a possession; it’s a gateway to an active lifestyle out on the water and a way to create memories with friends and family.
Top Types of Stories for Boat Companies
Because it can be difficult to identify and articulate what makes your brand special, let’s look at three different types of story:
Your Founding Story
Perhaps your company is owned by the latest generation in a long line of boat builders. Or it was started by a passionate angler who wanted to build boats exactly his way. Beyond specs, features and benefits, customers want to know that the company shares their interests and values, and your founding story helps them make that connection. It communicates that you have a legacy and reputation in the market and aren’t just a come-lately player.
Questions to ask to identify your founding story:
How did your company get started? What was the founder’s vision? Are there members of that original family or partnership still involved? How does that history guide the company and its actions today?
Where and how to leverage your founding story:
Dedicate a page on your website for your company’s history and give it space in your print catalogs. Make your founders (or the current generation of owners) featured faces in the brand’s social media communication, especially if they actively participate in boating and fishing. Create a short video montage that celebrates your history with old photos, best-selling products and important milestones.
Your Product Story
In the boating industry, owners and marketers get overly focused on specs, throwing out a bunch of measurements and terms that prospects may not understand. Yes, those are important but numbers alone don’t help potential owners identify what model is right for them. It’s like buying a car based on the length and height of the vehicle — important considerations for, say, getting the thing into the garage but not a compelling sales pitch. Instead, you should create a story around each of your models that paints a picture of how that particular boat can get the owner out on the water in exactly the way he wants to be there.
Questions to ask to identify your product story:
What’s the vision for quality and performance that drives your design and production? Why does each model exist — what’s the ideal use or setting for the boat, and who’s the perfect owner? What is the ride like? What is the experience of being in that vessel? Can you help the customer envision how he’ll feel behind the console? If you’ve aligned with recognized guides or captains, what can they say about your models?
Where and how to leverage your product story:
Certainly, have a section on your website that contains all the features and specs of each boat. But before you send visitors there, create a landing page for each category that tells your product stories. Use social channels to share the narrative of each type of boat you build.
Your Community Story
Just as important as the stories you create are the ones your owners and their friends and families tell. We’ll say again what we’ve said before: People don’t buy boats; they buy the boating lifestyle. The fun, the fishing, the sun, the memories. Their stories are your stories.
Questions to ask to identify your community story:
What are people saying about our products and their experiences using them on Facebook and Instagram? What do new buyers say when they pick up their boats? Can we capture these testimonials?
Where and how to leverage your community story:
Social media is the best marketing channel to engage with your community — not just your current owners but the people they know who also might be in the market for a boat. Invite people to share their stories, and allow them to help you create your brand story. Be active on social media: comment, like and share others’ posts. And develop a blog section on your website where you post dynamic content including interviews with owners, news from your events, profiles of your top guides and brand ambassadors.
Outdoor brands like boating companies have some of the best opportunities for storytelling simply because of the adventurous ways people use their products. Think about Yeti: If they’ve been able to tell story after story about a cooler, you can do this, too!
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