Labor Day is approaching and you know what that means. The 2018 consumer diving season is coming to a close. Traditionally, the diving season for the consuming public is Memorial Day through Labor Day. Kids (and Teachers) are out of school and families go on vacation. The water is warm and people have time to enjoy their favorite recreation. And scuba diving is a recreation for many people. Trouble is, our industry doesn’t know how to sell to or service this niche market very well. We are too busy trying to make every recreational diver into an Industry Professional. But that’s another story.
Now that the summer season is coming to a close, September becomes the launch month of the new season. For many years now, the big equipment companies having been launching their next year’s product line in September. As a former Product Manager I had my new products ready to go in August. We had our samples ready for the Sales Reps and we ran them through all the features and benefits during our Sales Meeting in August. Right after Labor Day, the Reps hit the road to show our new products to their Dealers. The goal was to lock up their Dealers’ “open-to-buy” budgets before the competition did. Introducing a new line in September changes the dynamics of the DEMA Show for you. The show becomes more of a “Show and Tell” and a “Meet and Greet” event and takes the focus and pressure away from being a writing-only show. When you are competing with seminars for exhibit floor time and answering questions about new equipment to retail buyers and industry professionals, this business model works well.
I’ve spent the summer on two very important projects that grew in scope way beyond my belief. And yes, this Old Dog learned a bunch of new tricks. To begin with, the Dive Industry Foundation started a campaign called Unifying the Diving Industry. We formulated a twelve point plan to accomplish this and integrated it into our DIVE LOCAL Campaign. The white paper for Unifying the Diving Industry is now Chapter 10 in the white paper DIVE LOCAL – A Dive Community Cooperative Effort. Nine of the 12 steps have been written, published as blog posts, featured in The Dive Industry Weekly News, published as complete articles in the monthly Dive Industry Professional and included in the DIVE LOCAL Program. After we finish up with steps 10-12, the industry will have a great workable plan to rally around. And best of all, we’ll have a solution for those Industry Professionals who are always complaining about the industry yet never seem to do anything different to make it better.
The second program that we worked on started as a simple Membership Manual for Members of the Dive Industry Association and is growing into a comprehensive industry self-help guide. A number of new members wanted to know more about the Association and had questions about our member benefits and how they could take advantage of the opportunities available to them as members. We are still in DRAFT mode on this manual and have written twenty chapters already. The individual chapters go into details about our Mission Statement, Vision for the Future and projects we are working on. It helped me look at the programs, products and services we offer and who our current, former and future members are. The manual goes into detail about the directories and databases we create to capture, maintain and reach our customers. The chapters on the marketing vehicles we use to carry our message to our customers, like our press release service, monthly newsletter, blog, websites, social media network, and shows & events, helped us better define who we are and how well we do things. In the process, the Association is getting more organized, more efficient and more effective in our presentations and delivery. And best of all, it’s bringing us results. We now have a much better handle on integrating our digital, print and face-to-face marketing campaigns into a unified program. I am confident that any business who undertakes this kind of marketing audit will see things they are doing right, doing wrong or not doing at all.
I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself, but while I was doing the research for these two papers, I discovered the need for a Guide to the Diving Industry, or niche market as I like to call it. In the past three months I’ve had dozens of my peers express their positive encouragement for an industry guide that explains the history, growth and future of the diving industry from a business perspective. It would attempt to define why some call it an industry when it is really a niche market made up of many industries on the sellers’ side and many different types of consumers on the buyers’ side. That point alone is going to open up discussion and criticism in the industry like never before. Something to think about and research is the make-up of the demand chain. Are they recreational divers, hobbyists, part time & full time dive professionals, or professionals in other industries who use scuba gear to do their jobs? Another neglected topic is that of influencers, opinion leaders and mavens. Do they persuade others to make buying decisions or do they just promote themselves? Are the Leaders of the Diving Industry Entrepreneurs or Employees? Do they own or work for diving companies or do they have “real jobs” and use the diving industry as their social outlet? A lot of questions yet very few answers. Yet, it’s asking these questions and getting answers that we can put into a book that will help us define the market, identify the problems, think of solutions and do the things that will bring about the necessary changes to have a successful industry, market, hobby, profession, or whatever!
September is our defining moment. Let’s bury our old ways of doing things and start fresh. It’s time to unify the industry (it’s OK to call it the Diving Industry) and make our Industry Professionals more professional, productive, and profitable. It time to work together to achieve new heights and accomplish our goals. It’s time to become the Diving Industry of the 21st Century.