Which photo do you think would do a better job of selling your latest model?

  1. A boat on a trailer in a showroom OR
  2. A happy family in that boat out on the water, sun glistening on the surface, wind streaming through their hair, wake churning behind them

We see a need for companies to invest more in having the proper photography, video and stories that capture the pleasure of boating. Most boat manufacturers have a long lineage in the marine industry or come from an industrial design or engineering background. Even though they run a company that makes a great product, the end use of the boat isn’t always a passion for company owners: They build really great fishing boats, for example, but they might not be anglers themselves. They focus on the performance aspects and not the lifestyle.

But customers want to buy into the lifestyle. And great content sells the lifestyle.

Three things to know about custom content:

  1. High-quality content can make or break a campaign, website or social strategy. Think back to the two photos I described at the beginning of this post. Unprofessional or uninteresting visuals will sink your marketing.
  2. Quality content creates a much more compelling brand, story and culture than trying to get by with copy that doesn’t portray the right messaging, photos that lack character and crummy video in an age where polished video stories are the hallmark of active brands.
  3. You need to budget for quality photography and video and professionally written copy.

So, how should you outfit your custom content setup? Here are the essentials:

Beautiful Photography

Two components to this: lifestyle imagery shot on location and great product images of the boats with close-ups that show details like the console, inside the live well, and top and side shots. Hire a photographer, send a boat down to the Everglades and capture the boat under ideal conditions – with attractive people, on flat water, with perfect lighting.

Compelling Video

Again, aim for a mix of lifestyle video that shows your boats in action or captures an exciting catch, along with product-oriented video like walkthroughs to show different features. These product videos are especially important when you introduce new models because they’re often picked up by online magazines for their annual buyers’ guides.

Product Copy

Do you put real effort into writing descriptions of your different models for print brochures and your website? Probably not. And it matters. These product write-ups should be polished and professional yet descriptive and exciting. Remember, you’re selling the lifestyle here. Even though it seems boilerplate, this copy should not just list the features of the P29; it should talk about who the P29 is for, what it can do for them and how it can improve their quality of life. Then get into the specs.

Your Brand Story

My colleague Marcus recently wrote here about how to support your great products with an equally great brand story. Your story is uniquely your own: How your company started, the vision behind your products, the passion you and your team bring to the sport, and the ways you participate yourselves. It should inform every piece of communication you float out there.

Ongoing Content

In my recent article about content as a strong sales too, I wrote about dynamic content – the stuff that you regularly add to your website, typically in the form of a blog, and then share through social media. This is soft-sell messaging that paints a picture of what it’s like to own and enjoy your boats. Ongoing content might cover how to outfit a boat for different types of fishing, coverage of your owners events, interviews with your brand ambassadors and the like. Our friends over at Beavertail Skiffs do a great job with this; check out their website and Boat Owners Profiles.

Custom Content: A Smart Investment

You make major investments in your business – design, labor, materials. Custom content should be one of those investments. It’s a smart one because it absolutely drives sales. Hire a professional videographer and a photographer who are experienced in our industry. Tap into marketing partners and content creators who share your audience’s passion for the industry. (Not sure where to start looking for these folks? Give us a shout.)

And you get multiple uses out of all that content, if you’re strategic about it. Use product photos on your website and in print collateral. Use stories on your blog and in social media. Invite owners to share their stories and videos, and display them at boat shows. It’s about building a library of content that you can use over and over in many ways. In your modern marketing ecosystem, all these messages and channels work in sync.

Here’s the thing: If you’re a boat manufacturer, you’re not really selling boats. Or at least not just selling boats. You’re selling the boating lifestyle. You’re helping the guy or girl realize their dream of taking their happy family out on the water, sun glistening on the surface … You get the picture.


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