The Scuba Show in Long Beach just concluded on Sunday and now everyone is talking about DEMA Show. Only 162 Days Away! You have got to be kidding me? Yes, for the Marketing Professionals & Planners in the Industry, it’s all about DEMA from here till November.
But let’s look at what the rest of the industry is doing. The DIVE LOCAL Groups that make their living in the industry – the Dive Stores, Dive Boats, Dive Clubs and Scuba Instructors – they just started their season and will be needing sales & training support for the next four months. Unfortunately, many in the manufacturing sector will be off getting their new product samples ready for testing, final approval and ordering for an end of August deadline. Then there are catalogs, price lists and brochures to be designed and printed. And how about a new booth for the show? The Sales Reps should be on the road now but many of them are exhausted from five months of dive shows and making the rounds with last year’s merchandise. It seems like a good time for them to take a vacation. August will be here soon enough and they’ll be called away to attend their annual sales meeting. Sales Reps and Retail Buyers have been working out ways to “get in sync” with each other for many years now. I don’t think the industry has made any progress.
What do you think the training and travel people are doing? Much of the same. For some working in the larger companies, the pre-season marketing push is over and DEMA is five months away, so this may be a great time to take a vacation. For those working in smaller companies, there is no rest for the weary. Their pre-season, in-season, and post-season all run together. That is the downfall of many dive businesses in our industry. It is easy to lose sight of when the season begins and ends and a new one starts. Because our industry has gotten away from the art of forecasting sales and manufacturing booking programs, our buyers wait until the last minute to buy last year’s inventory while the sellers are moving forward making next year’s equipment. Becoming a student of the diving industry and understanding the manufacturing process, seasonality curve, product life cycles and customer types will help you become a more professional, productive and profitable business person.
Manufacturing Process: There is a difference between the Major Brands and the Brand Marketers. The major equipment manufacturers make most of their own products but still purchase select products from OEM’s (Original Equipment Manufacturers). Their Designers, Engineers and Product Managers are working on new products all year long and usually have finished samples ready for the company’s Sales Meeting in August and a scheduled delivery for late August, early September. Their Reps will be on the road in September, introducing their new lines to their Dealer base. Brand Marketers, on the other hand, buy their products from an OEM and put their logo on it. They are at the mercy of the OEM’s they work with and their manufacturing production capabilities. Sometimes all they can do is wait until the DEMA Show and take orders for equipment they would like to have in their line for the following season. For the sake of creating a competitive edge for your store, it is wisest to establish a strong relationship with the Sales Reps of your major lines, see them as close to September 1 as possible, give them a solid opening order and be the first person in your territory to offer the coming year’s models while you are closing out the current year’s inventory during the busiest buying period of the year – Christmas. Now you are in sync with the general public’s purchasing cycle.
Seasonality Curve: Even if scuba diving is a 12 month recreation in many parts of the globe, we all have a distinct seasonality curve. Every buyer and seller should know their’s. What’s your’s? Plot your gross sales in dollars sold and units sold on a daily basis. Graph monthly sales every year, for three years. Look for similarities and trends. Do you (Retailers) have different seasons for equipment sales, classes, charters, trips, rentals and repairs? Do your Manufacturing Orders, Sales and Shipments have different peaks? How about the difference between Domestic and International Sales? For Resorts and Dive Operators, it’s all about “Heads on Beds and Butts on Seats.” When and where do you book your customers? When do they stay? Remember, one person’s peak season may be another person’s off season.
Parts of a Season: All Seasons have a Pre-Season, In-Season, Post-Season, and Next Season part to them. Times, dates and duration may vary from region to region and even business to business. In the United States, our pre-season is generally January through May. We spend January, February and March marketing our wares at consumer dive shows and adventure travel shows. April and May are the months that should be used for ordering merchandise and stocking the shelves in anticipation of the coming season. A typical watersports season, in the minds of the general public is Memorial Day through Labor Day. There is a lot of wiggle room in that statement. My advice is to determine a more accurate timeline for your “season.” Most people ignore the post-season process and hence, learn nothing from last year’s successes and failures. Smart people always go through a process where they analyze their actions and learn from them for next year. Getting ready for next-season is a powerful tool. Tie up loose ends from this season and get ready for a new one. Prepare your mind to accept it and move on.
Customer Types: Understanding this concept has changed my life. I learned it in a business course I now teach – HyperGrow Your Business. Curtis Clinkinbeard said we have three types of customers; Current Customers, Former Customers and Future Customers. My whole purpose in business is to cater to and keep my current customers. They are the ones I communicate with first and foremost. They are the reason I am still in business. Former Customers are the people who have not purchased from you in the past 12 months. They are easy to reach, know you and have used your products before. There is a good chance they have been meaning to talk to you, but they got wrapped up in life, children, family, work, whatever. They are probably waiting for your call right now. This group is second on my list of people to stay in touch with. Future customers have not purchased your products yet. They are the most expensive and time-consuming group to reach. They are prospects until you qualify them. Then they become Leads, then Hot Leads and hopefully customers. When you are in the throws of your season, make sure you properly address and market to your current, former and future customers accordingly.
Working Smarter – Not Harder: Running a successful business, regardless if it is a Retail Store, Manufacturing Company or Travel Business, is all about selling a sufficient number of products to a sufficient number of customers while you balance your limited resources of time, money and manpower. Simple. The Science of an integrated sales and marketing plan is easy to understand and replicate. It’s the Art of executing an integrated sales and marketing plan that is your challenge. Hire wisely!
Have a great Summer. See us at Dema Show – Booth 4225.