Why don’t more boat manufacturers and dealers share their pricing on their websites and marketing collateral? It’s a question we’ve often asked, as we’ve found that availability of pricing greatly assists boat buyers in the early stages of their research. The answer we typically get to this question is a bit puzzling – “because we want potential customers to call or visit us”.

On the surface, this line of thinking may make perfect sense but there’s more to sharing or NOT sharing a base price for your boat models than meets the eye.

Consider that the average buying cycle for a prospect looking to purchase a new boat is in the neighborhood of eight to nine months. And many of these folks are completely new to the process, having never bought or owned a watercraft before. Not knowing what to expect and finding pricing difficult to come by can certainly make the buyer’s initial research a challenge.

Transparency in pricing can help alleviate some of the frustrations of the process and help to better qualify prospects and match them with a vessel that’s a right fit for their budget.

Newbies to Boat Ownership and Pricing

Grow Boating reported that in 2015, 33% of all new and pre-owned boats were sold to first-time buyers. And while this number has declined from previous years (that’s a different article), it’s still a substantial percentage of the total number of boats being purchased.

Having never gone through the process of buying a boat before, neither from a dealer or factory-direct, the closest thing these folks can equate to is the purchase of a car. And in the automotive industry pricing is readily shared across all marketing mediums – from dealer and manufacturer websites to ads to television commercials.

You don’t have to look too hard to find that the MSRP for a 2017 Ford Focus is $16,775, while the base cost of a new Toyota Tundra is currently $30,120. In fact, it only took the better part of ten seconds to get both prices with a quick Google search.

However, having surfed literally hundreds of boat manufactures and dealer websites, pricing is rarely shared – especially on new boats.

For the first time buyer, and even veterans looking to upgrade, not having an understanding of pricing can lead to frustration in the very early stages of the buying cycle by simply not understanding what any given boat model or brand costs. Assuming the buyer has set a budget for their new purchase (we all have a limit) and that the process will begin with online research…. how can they begin to narrow the field when the only pricing they can find isn’t really pricing… but a message to “CALL for PRICE”?

Easing the Emotional Baggage that Comes with the Process

Researching, shopping for and, ultimately, buying a new boat should be a positive experience. After all, the sole purpose of recreational boating is to gain enjoyment and enrich the quality of enthusiasts lives!

That being said, the vast majority of shoppers will begin their journey by deciding how much they plan to spend and what type of boat they’re most interested in. And most of these folks will start their research online… with a quick Google search.

In many cases, due to lack of transparency in pricing, immediate frustration can and will set in simply by not being able to identify if they can truly afford that boat of their dreams.

In fact, 35% of prospects who abandon the pursuit of a new boat purchase do so because they couldn’t find a boat they could afford. This isn’t necessarily directly attributed to lack of transparent pricing, but helping to guide buyers more easily to boats within their budgets will certainly make the process easier.

Not being able to identify pricing on your website (most do not show MSRP or base price), leaves the prospect with only a few choices….. pick up the phone and make a call, visit a boat show, or visit a dealer. But most buyers would feel more comfortable if they had a better idea of what they were getting themselves into before taking that step. Calling a manufacturer, who sells direct, or calling a dealer might be more than they’re ready for at that moment. It can feel like committing too much too soon or simply intimidating. The buyer is likely asking themselves – ”what if the price is way out of my league?”, “are they going to try to set the hook on me right away?”….

Simply sharing pricing on your website, along with the wealth of other information that’s already there, can make the early stages of the process so much easier on the purchaser.

Your Website Should Tell the ENTIRE Story

The majority of boat manufacturers and dealers understand the value of their websites (if not, let’s talk) and have put a lot of effort into building a site that showcases their products. Typically you’ll find background information/history of the company, news and events and of course… a section highlighting each model offered.

Companies usually do a pretty good job showcasing each model and provide a wealth of specs, photos, descriptions, options and so forth. But surprisingly, the one, and possibly most important piece of information for each model, is usually MIA. The price.

In its place is typically the “CALL for PRICE” message or an equally frustrating web form to submit a “request for quote”. It doesn’t have to be that way and it shouldn’t be.

Share Your Price, Create a Better Sales Experience and Sell More Boats

By simply sharing an MSRP or base price for each of your boat models in your website, marketing collateral and ad campaigns, you’ll be doing your prospects a favor and in-turn better qualify them from the outset. More of the buyers who do call or visit your dealership will already know that they can afford your boat, creating less angst on both the customer and your sales staff. And you’ll be creating a more positive boat buying experience on both sides.


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