It’s 2017—a brand new year—and for most areas it is winter, which means the phone isn’t ringing so much. Right now is the perfect time to adjust your business strategies: study what worked and didn’t work from the previous year, and come up with new plans.

Other than gaining sales in your general atmosphere, where else would be the next most important sales environment? Boat Shows.

As the industry news rolls out you know that the Boat Show season is starting up again. That means that your future customers are doing research to find that perfect boat. And soon, those same customers will have some tax refund money to spend.

Have you thought about how you’re planning on targeting your customers at the boat shows this year?

Here are three categories you should really focus on: inventory, leads and show strategy.

Inventory

  • Your floor plan is key. Take a look at your oldest boats and make a deal to sell them to make room for new inventory (and avoid paying extra fees on the longevity of the boat age). Have current 2017 models in stock for each boat line. If for some reason you don’t have the current models, have the boat literature and make the ordering process as painless as possible.
  • Show off your inventory. List the boats you have available to sell online in as many places as you can (company website, social media, online boating marketplaces, etc).
  • Year start promotions. Almost all engine/boat manufacturers start their promos for the first half the year, use that to your advantage. Customers will love the fact that their engine/boat will be covered an extra few years under warranty, and they will be up for spending the money if there’s something in it for them.

Leads

  • Start a pre-boat show campaign. This should be your pre-boat show lead generator. Use a phrase or something with your company name and get it out there. Come up with a questionnaire for future customers and place it on your website, social media and send in a newsletter. The questions should pertain to if they are looking to purchase a boat this boat show—and that is who you need to focus on. Make appointments and schedule seatrials in advance.
  • Reach out to existing customers. Send out a general newsletter to all existing customers telling them about the upcoming boat show and to contact you using the boat show lead campaign email address. Use social media to let everyone know you’re going to be at the show, and what you plan on bringing.
  • Current leads. Even though you need to generate sales to keep money flowing in, provide some sort of incentive for current walk-ins to join you at the boat show. Free tickets to the show, free swag to wear during the show, something to help you out.

Show Strategy

  • Visual merchandising is key. Be unique. Design your booth with the customer in mind—have a seating area where they will be comfortable enough to sit down and wait for their turn, or just relax by looking at your boat literature. Bring something personable to your area—show off awards or photos of staff members.
  • Offer free swag or company merchandise. Give customers an extra reason to remember you. Exchange leads for free swag, or offer a percentage off (boat show promo) for company merchandise. If an item is cool enough, people will see it and come search for it. Plus, anything with your name on it is great marketing.
  • Bring personality into your brand. Make time to get to know your customers and their stories. Make a friend first, then make them into a customer. If they don’t make a purchase with you today, find a way for them to remember you enough to come back, and keep in contact with them. And, don’t forget to always check up on your previous customers—their value is the most important—especially when they tell others about the positive experience with your company, of which, may then lead to more sales.