February Is Matchmaking Month
by Gene Muchanski, Editor
The Dive Industry Professional
Welcome to the February 2022 Editorial of The Dive Industry Professional. The new recreational scuba diving season is underway, albeit slow, but is has begun for many Dive Industry Professionals. Our Association closed out last month at a record + 30% increase in revenue. I have heard a few other such reports. Industry Professionals are selling diving equipment, training and travel this year and there is no magic to it. In fact, I think it’s quite simple. Sell something the market wants. Find a customer that needs, wants and can afford your product. Know how to reach potential customers. It doesn’t get more basic than that.
The diving industry is loaded with opportunity this year. To take advantage of these opportunities you only have to focus on three things. Products – Customers – Marketing. Let’s get into a little more detail by going down each rabbit hole just a little bit.
Products: The diving industry primarily sells diving equipment, training programs, and travel services. Rather than try to sell these categories separately, plan to integrate all three into your sales strategy. Put a program together that helps all of your customers outfit themselves for the type of diving they like to do. Make sure they have adequate training in their chosen interests. Give them ample opportunity to use their training and their equipment that they purchase from you. And lastly, make them lifetime customers and keep them actively involved in our recreation.
Customers: There are good customers and there are better customers. Look for the better customers by getting referrals from your current better customers. Your new customers, demographically, should be just like them. A good customer for you might be a person who wants to scuba dive actively. They take their training, buy their equipment, go on trips and become an active diver. And it goes without saying, that they do this all with you. We’ll call this type of person, your best prospect. It doesn’t mean you can’t sell to other types of customers, but your primary focus should be on this type of customer.
Marketing: Marketing is communicating what you sell. It’s all about matching products to customers. We call this “Retail Matchmaking.” It’s a good idea to have different messages for your current customers, former customers and future customers.
Retail Dive Store Managers like to do annual audits on their operation. They basically make sure they are offering the correct programs, products and services to their customers. They make sure they are keeping track of their customers and contacting them sufficiently. They also look at their marketing efficiency, effectiveness and costs. That covers your demand chain audit. At the same time, it’s a good idea to do a little audit into your supply chain as well. Are you using the proper vendors to supply your diving equipment, training and travel products? A little Matchmaking here goes a long way.
We talked about matching products to customers and marketing vehicles to customers. We call this Demand Chain Matchmaking, and it’s a very important thing for dive stores to do. We also talked about Supply Chain Matchmaking, where dive stores look at their suppliers of goods and services. Now let’s talk about another type of matchmaking.
It all starts with bringing Buyers & Sellers together. Dive Industry Matchmaking is about matching vendors (Sellers) with their retail accounts (Buyers). This is an issue that is taking on a more important priority this year. The past two years have seen a lot of consolidation with dive equipment manufacturers. In the same time period, the dive travel industry has lost a number of dive resorts and dive operators. To make matters worse, the industry has lost over 300 dive stores in the United States alone. Our total market in the U.S. is about 1,300 dive stores. It has gotten increasingly difficult for potential buyers to find available suppliers. Their questions are: What’s available? Where are they located? Who do we call? You think someone would make it easy for them?
The Dive Industry Association has increased in importance and membership by developing programs and projects the industry needs to market itself to the international diving community and the general public. #1 We have maintained our database of buyers and sellers of diving equipment, training, travel and lifestyle products. And we contact them on a regular basis. #2 We publish a Trade Directory and Buyers Guide to bring Buyers and Sellers together. Our Mission is to make it easier for buyers to locate a source for their purchases, either in the trade or consumer market. Our Association identifies sources of goods and services, establishes relationships with the dive industry professionals in charge and are quick to promote and refer diving equipment, training, travel and lifestyle products to trade customers and final consumers. That’s the primary job of a Trade Association and the Dive Industry Association takes that responsibility very seriously.
Would your business benefit from Membership in a Trade Association that produces an informative Blog, a FREE Weekly Press Release Service, a Monthly Newsletter, and an International Trade Directory & Buyers Guide? How about if that organization maintained an International Trade and Consumer database that helped you find new customers? If they referred your products to buyers who are looking for what you sell? What if that organization has a 20 year history of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars exhibiting at trade and consumers shows to promote you?
Then this might be the year that you join the Dive Industry Association and become a part of our Global Diving Business Network. Request a Membership Application today by contacting:
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