April is normally about following up with the contacts we made in the first three months of the year. January through March is the diving industry’s pre-season marketing period. Our manufacturers, travel companies and certification agencies meet with their local dealers, agents and representatives in their home territory. At the same time, the local dive industry professionals get their annual opportunity to meet face-to-face with their customers. That’s what we mean by pre-season marketing. It’s the time of year when we introduce new programs, products and services to our customers and set the pace for the whole new season. It’s when we book our merchandise orders, travel trips and certification forecasts. It’s also when the diving consumers make their plans to sign up for scuba training, continuing education, vacation travel and equipment purchases. That’s what the pre-season is all about.
So if January through March is our industry’s pre-season time period, that makes April and May our time for follow-up. This year, instead of exhibiting at every show during the first three months of the year and then waiting to follow-up in the next two months, we decided to exhibit at the shows in high-diver count geographical hubs, conduct regional summit meetings at the shows and conduct an integrated pre-show, at-show and post-show marketing campaign at the same time. It was a lot more work doing it this way but the results were fantastic.
One of the many things we learned this year is that Local Diving Activity is the heart-beat of a strong National Diving Industry. What makes a national diving industry successful is strong local diving communities. What makes a local diving community successful is its local diving activities. The biggest challenge we face in building a strong national diving industry is the organization and coordination of fragmented local diving hubs. One way of uniting the various market niches is by agreeing to participate in an annual event that showcases an entire region, like the annual Beneath the Sea Show in the Northeast. If all the segments of the diving industry like the manufacturers, retailers, boat operators, clubs, diving instructors and travel professionals would conduct their annual events at Beneath the Sea, the show could easily double in size. If all the market segments like recreational scuba, public safety diving, tech, resort, freediving and spearfishing would participate, there would be no telling how big the show could get or how many opportunities would be made available to the exhibitors, participants and attendees.
Regardless of whether or not the market segments and niches in the diving community come together, the first step is to plan and promote activities in your local diving community. How about we start there while we learn to play nice with each other?