Promote Your Members – Create a Directory – by Gene Muchanski Editor, The Dive Industry Professional
Welcome to the New Year. Although none of us can predict how this year will unfold, I think it’s safe to say that it probably will not be as bad as last year. But you never know. During the pandemic lockdowns of 2020, many of us in the diving industry kept busy by doing some house cleaning. Old books, old papers, old files, that sort of thing. I came across a few old directories of scuba instructors published by NAUI, LA County, Women’s Scuba Association, and of course, the Dive Industry Association. I started to think about why there are so few if any directories still published. If you are a dues paying member of an association or organization, perhaps you should be wondering too. Are they hiding your contact information or just not supporting you?
A member driven association or organization is supposed to be in the business of promoting their members to the buying public so the member can sell more products or services and increase their revenue. If your organization isn’t increasing your revenue and merely selling you stuff, why do you belong to them and pay annual dues? It seems to me that many organizations do their best to hide your contact information so their competitors won’t be able to “steal their customers” away from them. In fact, some organizations just want to keep their dues paying members to themselves so only they can sell them more products. How in God’s name is that bringing you more business?
This year, hundreds of dive businesses will go out of business. The market has shrunk and the competition for reaching paying customers is increasing. Not only are Dive Industry Professionals getting smarter about reaching potential customers, they are getting smarter about paying dues to organizations that don’t do things that increase their revenue.
The Dive Industry Association publishes its Member Directory for a number of reasons. 1) It lets the worldwide diving community know who the sellers of equipment, training, travel and lifestyle products are. 2) It shows our community which diving companies support our Global Diving Network and the local diving communities they serve. 3) It is a central sources of dive businesses that are currently in business, complete with their continually verified contact information. 4) It creates a marketplace where Buyers & Sellers can meet to do business. Our Mission as a Trade Association is to help bring you more business that puts money in your pocket, not take it out.
I’ve had a number of discussions with dive industry professionals this year about directories and their purpose. Most agree that our Trade Directory is a great idea. We list our Members by industry or category and we list our travel members by category or country. We have a cross reference directory that lists our members by the products or services they sell. These are two directories that we can send to Divers all over the world, using our digital capability. We are even putting our directory back up on its website for the worldwide diving community to see and use.
I believe that directories are useful to both buyers and sellers. If you are in business to sell your products or services, you want people to know who you are and how to contact you. I agree that not everyone wants to be listed in a directory. I don’t want to be listed in the NAUI Member locator page of their website, because I am a Sustaining Lifetime Member and no longer teach scuba diving. But if I were an active Instructor looking for students, I would want to be easily located and contacted. The same thing goes for donors and sponsors. Some may want to be listed, some may not. Give them the option.
A few colleagues of mine have suggested that some member directories are not publicly available because the organizations have a practice of selling their member list. And who would pay for a listing if it’s available to the public for free? Good point. You have to remember that a list of unknowns is almost worthless. It’s the relationship behind the name that’s important. A good reason to create a list is to let people know who you serve, and who is worthy of your service.
So here are a few of our suggestions based on some input from the industry. Don’t think of a Member Directory as a listing of your Members. Think of it as a Buyers Guide that can be used by the buying public to acquire dive equipment, training, travel, and lifestyle products. Think of it as a guide to bring your Members more business. The more of your products they sell, the more of your products they will have to buy from you. Isn’t that what we all want? As far as Dealer Locators on websites are concerned, different types of businesses require different formats. Dive Stores may be well served if listed by zip code. People rarely travel more than 25 miles to take lessons or get their tanks filled. Dive Boat Operators may attract divers from hundred of miles away, if not more. People plan their boat trips based on where they want to dive, not where they live. Manufacturers have a national appeal. If you are looking for a Sales Rep, you need one that serves your state but may not live in it. Travel destinations command global promotion. If you want divers to dive the Maldives with you, you have to find a way to get your contact information to divers from all over the world.
What contact information should you include in a directory? Business name, city, state, country, phone number and website url. A contact name would be very helpful. I would avoid street addresses and email addresses. That information is only useful to people who are interested in list farming. Besides, complete contact information is usually listed on everyone’s website under “contact us.” The point is to create a list that is easily used and easy to update. It’s to help potential buyers find products and services from available sellers. In your case, the sellers should be your members and/or partners.
Is your business listed in our Directory? It should be. Contact Gene Muchanski at email@example.com or call 321-914-3778 for more details.