Perhaps your market’s focused on an area blessed with ideal weather that makes boating, fishing and paddlesports year-round pursuits. But for most watersports fans in most regions around the country, these are seasonal activities. (Yeah, we know those super enthusiasts who are out there 12 months a year — they just dress for different weather.)
You need to be reaching your audience — from those die-hard sportsmen to the casual weekend paddlers to the newbies who are considering their first fly rod purchase — all year long. Doing so allows you to:
- Stay in touch with your community, offering them a consistent stream of information and inspiration
- Manage your marketing budget and regulate your spending
- Deliver just the right message at just the right time
Let’s take a look at your four key marketing seasons:
1) The Lead-Up Season
About three months leading up to the sport’s high season, your customers (and prospective customers) are excitedly researching major purchases like big-ticket gear or a new boat. They’re searching online, reading the sporting magazines, and discovering the community of enthusiasts. The Lead-Up is when your customers make their biggest investments in the sports they love.
What you should be doing: Your marketing goals should be twofold: First, building excitement by sharing inspiring images and stories that engage folks with your brand, and second, showing customers how your products can help them pursue their passion. To reach buyers ready to purchase, target your marketing dollars to paid search, paid social advertising, and print advertising in consumer publications.
2) The High Season
Your customers are out there using your products, loving their active watersport lifestyle, and envisioning ways to have even more fun, with supplemental purchases like gear, add-ons, tackle, and apparel.
What you should be doing: Communicating with your audience during your sport’s high season is all about inspiration. Yes, you’re always pushing your product — but it’s more about selling the dream.
While you’ll want to continue print advertising, your focus now should be on social channels, because that’s where the community comes together to share their experiences. Engage them by posting your own stories, photos, and videos—show you’re out there with them. Our client Beavertail Skiffs does social marketing really well, with great results: They see 1,000 likes or more on Instagram when they post images that show customers enjoying their products out on the water, as opposed to straight promotional or sponsored posts.
3) The Holiday Season
Those active anglers and passionate paddleboarders are making wish lists of all the cool stuff they’d love to have, like ball caps and hoodies featuring their favorite brands.
What you should be doing: Ramp up your print advertising and paid search/social marketing for the month prior to Black Friday, with more product-centric messaging. Focus on mid- and lower-price items that make great holiday gifts.
4) The Offseason
When people have put their toys away and look back at how great the season was, you should do the same. Review your overall plan and make adjustments based on the season’s sales performance. What worked well in social and print? Are there new channels or publications to consider? Does your website — the key part of your marketing ecosystem — need an overhaul?
What you should be doing: Dedicate the offseason to strengthening your brand. The companies we work with might have a dedicated marketing person — or not. Their teams get stretched during the season and don’t have bandwidth to look at the bigger picture. This is the time to review, analyze, plan, and budget for the four marketing seasons. Schedule at least three months to produce the materials for each of the campaigns (add more time if you need to shoot photos or video). Devote half your marketing dollars to the Lead-Up season, and then spread the balance out over the year to avoid huge spikes and lows in expenses.
Your sport may have an offseason. But your marketing shouldn’t.