One good thing about being in the diving industry for over 40 years is that you have a lot of time on your hands to reflect and a lot of data to reflect upon. I can’t think of a down side, except that some younger people might say “That was then, this is now.” To that I’ll just say that people who don’t know their history are doomed to repeat it.
Most of my career in the diving industry has been in strategic planning. Having a diverse background in diving and the business of diving, I have been fortunate to work in the Training, Travel, Retail, Manufacturing and Media Sectors of the Industry. The most useful information I ever gathered was how our customers and competitors think. If my employers could know just one thing, it was always how could they be one step ahead of our customers and competitors.
And guess what? When you figure that out, you write it down and formulate a strategy to capitalize on it. In the process, you learn from your successes and failures and you continually refine the process, all along doing more of the stuff that works and less of the stuff that doesn’t. You learn from other people and you copy what works for them and you shy away from things that didn’t. You ask your customers what they want and you do your best to give it to them.
So, is there a Master Plan for the Diving Industry? Yes, there is and it’s based on what the market is asking for and how some suppliers are responding to their needs. Notice that I said “some.” It’s based on a natural flow of seasonality curves and customer purchasing patterns. It’s based on having the right products, at the right price, at the right time, for the right audience. It’s about building a market for the present and the future. It’s about growing an industry.
Not all suppliers agree on a “Master” Master Plan. Based on their own organizational needs and target customers, they choose to pursue their own plan in order to best achieve their own desired outcomes. The best defense against this type of competitor is to be part of a Master Plan that has the best interest of the market as its guide.
Companies working together toward an Industry Master Plan tend to use words like “integrated marketing” instead of “marketing campaign”. They tend to work well with other companies instead of “having their own thing.” They tend to donate to industry non-profit organizations instead of just their own organizations. They also tend to be transparent in their dealings with other industry professionals instead of meeting behind closed doors. They tend to be “inclusive” rather than “exclusive.”
Companies working together toward an Industry Master Plan have greater advantages due to an expanded horizontal network whereas companies that are vertically integrated loose a great deal in new ideas and synergy. What’s good for each company individually is also good for the entire industry when working towards common goals.