Using Constant Contact as DIA’s Industry Database

Using Constant Contact as an Industry Database
by Gene Muchanski
Executive Director, Dive Industry Association, Inc.

This is the second article in a Series about Databases that Dive Industry Association uses to keep in touch with its Retail and Trade Customers.  We started using Constant Contact in 2004 when it was introduced to us at a National Convention of the Small Business Development Centers Network in Denver, Colorado.  Seeing that Constant Contact didn’t start until 1998, we were pretty much on the ground floor of something new in the field of digital marketing.  I attended a seminar by Eric Groves, Constant Contact’s then Senior Vice President, Global Market Development.  I knew from that day forward, that e-mail marketing was here to stay and could change the future of the diving industry, for the better, forever.

Constant Contact is an email marketing services provider.  You’ll have to read Eric Groves’ book, The Constant Contact Guide to E-mail Marketing to fully appreciate what is is and what it can do for your business.  Our Association uses it to send targeted emails and industry notices, publish our Weekly Dive News press releases, our monthly newsletter, The Dive Industry Professional, and our monthly Member Birthday News. We also use it to conduct surveys and tabulate the results.  None of this would be possible if we were not using Constant Contact’s customer list management program.

Our Association does not buy mailing lists or rent out ours.  We use a permission based method to acquire new contacts and we manage our contact information every time we conduct an e-mail campaign.  Our customers can opt-in or unsubscribe anytime they wish and they can adjust their preferences according to their needs.  We are more interested in maintaining relationships and keeping in touch with our customers than creating a perfect mailing list.  Our database allows us to target market each individual campaign.  (A campaign is one specific e-mail message.  i.e. our Weekly News mailing yesterday is a campaign).  We can send e-mail campaigns to specific industry sectors; Manufacturers, Dive Centers, Dive Operators, Dive Clubs, Travel Resorts, etc.  We even break these groups down into specific territories so we don’t send important news about events in New York to our California Dive Centers.  That cuts down on the number of emails we send to our customers and they appreciate that.

After every campaign we conduct, Constant Contact automatically makes a report available to us concerning campaign analytics.  We know how many e-mails went out, how many addresses bounced and how many people unsubscribed.  It takes a few minutes to clean our list, but that only helps our stats for the next campaign.  It also gives us an opportunity to research the person with the e-mail address in question.  Did they just change their e-mail address or are they out of business?

It’s nice to be able to keep your customer contact list clean and up-to-date.  It’s even better when you have a method that allows new contacts to subscribe to your mailing list.  New Dive Store in Town?  New Diver?  With Constant contact you can create a list of campaign types that people can sign up for.  i.e Weekly News, Monthly Newsletter, General Information, etc.  Check out our Safe Subscription URL:   Subscribe

NOTES:  Dive Industry Association currently keeps track of 5,000 Industry Trade Professionals, worldwide in all of the business sectors that make up the diving industry.  We only store the contact information subscribers give us.  We do not add any personal preference data about our subscribers.  We are re-thinking about adding our 20,000 + consumer names.  Let us know your thoughts on that.

REFERENCES:

The Constant Contact Guide to E-mail Marketing
by Eric Groves, (c) 2009)
(Retired) Senior Vice President, Global Market Development
Constant Contact

Posted in Business Improvement | Leave a comment

Blogging – The First Step In Marketing

The Advantages of Blogging
by Gene Muchanski
Executive Director, Dive Industry Association, Inc.

I’ve been blogging since July 28, 2013 and it has proven to be one of the best business decisions I ever made.  Blogging is a term we use for “Posting on the Internet” and it is really easy.   You simply write your post (your article) and click the “Publish” button to publish your post to the internet.   It can also be posted to social media pages.  It’s a way to create content that will reside on a landing page with its own URL address link so people can access it as needed.  I just finished reading the first blog I publish in 2013.

I want to introduce this article on blogging as the first step the Dive Industry Association is using to unify the diving industry.  This article will become a part of our “White Paper” on Unifying The Diving Industry.  I’m not going to get into the ins and outs of creating a blog post because I have references listed at the end of this article that show you how to do all that.  Let me just tell you why I blog and why I think you should too.

All Diving companies should be blogging because it’s easy and cost effective.  We all have a story to tell in our industry and using a software platform that can include texts and images, reach countless people on the internet and is free to use is just the ticket we need.

Dive Industry Association uses the free software program provided by WordPress.  When you decide to use WordPress, you have the option of picking a domain name or providing one that you already own.  You also can have it hosted by your current website host or WordPress will host it for free.  We chose the free hosting and picked the name www.diveindustrynews.wordpress.com

The next few steps were really easy.  I bought the book “WordPress For Dummies” by Lisa Sabin-Wilson and did my homework. (Lisa’s a Scuba Diver, by the way.)  Getting up and running on WordPress was very easy.  Even for an Old Dog, learning new tricks.  We chose a Theme for the Website and started to load it with Static Pages like; Home, About, Our Vision, Dive Directory, Show & Events, etc.  We even added static pages (children pages) to the main “Parents” pages.  Pages are static because they don’t move around like posts and stay in the place you put them.

Within minutes we were ready to start blogging.  Our first post was so simple I was amazed.  You click “New Post” and start typing.  You can add images and hotlinks for websites and e-mail addresses.  When you are done you click “Publish” and WordPress assigns a URL to it and publishes your post to the internet and lists it as the first article on your Home Page.  We also learned how to automatically publish our posts to our social media pages on Facebook, Twitter and Linked-In.

What Blogging has allowed us to do is create a Weekly Dive News column for the Association, using Constant Contact.  We now have a way to create a post on WordPress, with its own URL that we could link to in our Constant Contact Weekly Dive News Campaign.  It opened up a way to teach our Members how to create their own press releases on their own blog and send us the URL link.   In the old days, if you sent an email to 1,800 Dealers you reached 1,800 people.  Now if you show each Dealer how to e-mail your URL Link to their customers (On average, each Dealer has 5,000 customers), you are now reaching 9 Million people instead of 1,800 people with that press release !!!  Now that’s what I call going viral.

A great thing about WordPress Blog / Websites is that people can subscribe to, or follow them for free.   That’s what DIA wants the industry to do with our blog.  If you go to www.diveindustrynews.wordpress.com you can sign up to follow our blogs posts.  When we post an Editorial or an article about the diving industry you will get an e-mail message saying we wrote a new article that you could go to and read.  That is the best way to stay in touch with our dive industry reporting.  If the new post (article) does not interest you, simply delete the e-mail.

WordPress is now a permanent part of our DIA Business Tool Box.  Subscribe to our Blog today and we will bring you more tools like this to grow your business and unify the industry.

Editor’s Note:  There are many new updated books, videos and training for WordPress users; WordPress for Beginners 2018, WordPress All-In-One For Dummies Edition 8, etc.  WordPress is an interesting company.

REFERENCES WE USED:

WordPress
Date Launched: November 21, 2005
www.wordpress.com
www.wordpress.org

WordPress For Dummies
3rd Edition – Copyright 2010
by Lisa Sabin-Wilson
(check for latest edition)

 

WordPress All-In-One For Dummies
2nd Edition – Copyright 2013
by Lisa Sabin-Wilson
(check for latest edition)

Posted in Article Series - Uniting the Industry, Business Improvement | Leave a comment

Editorial – June 2018

The Diving Industry Has Potential
by Gene Muchanski
Editor, The Dive Industry Professional 

The 2018 Diving Season got off to its usual start on Memorial Day.  The water is warm in the south (but not too warm) and the sky’s are clear.  People are out diving.  And they are traveling too.  I just got back from Dominican Republic and Scuba Caribe has some new boats, plenty of rental equipment and a scuba staff that would make any resort proud.  They have a fantastic coral restoration project going on close to one of the Dreams Resort properties.  Here’s a shout out to a great Diving Instructor  I just met there – Hi Soledad Del Pino !  Dominican Republic is expanding like crazy but it is still a well kept secret to the world.  Especially to the world of diving.  I’m beginning to think I know why.

We are gearing up for a trip to Saint Lucia.  There is a Photo Fest in September that has our interest and we are putting a FAM Trip together for Retail Dive Travel Specialists.  I first looked into Saint Lucia when Saint Lucia Tourism Authority, Anse Chastanet Resort and Scuba Saint Lucia joined our Association.  Having never been to Saint Lucia before, I began my research and became a Saint Lucia Specialist through IATA / IATAN.  I was amazed to see that Saint Lucia has at least 24 Resorts offering scuba diving, 11 Dive Operators, 2 Dive Shops and two Dive and Tourist Associations.  There may be more.  Two of our Travel Wholesalers in DIA do any outstanding business in Saint Lucia already.

In the past few months I’ve spoken with hundreds of dive industry professionals at dive shows, on the telephone, in social media and via email. We all agree that the Industry is fragmented and has a number of problems.  We know that people are real busy trying to make a buck and we have a tendency to do the same things we did in the past when it comes to running our business.  The one thing that I see is missing is the FUN.  The Dive Industry Professionals I’ve spoken to recently are not having fun.  A number of them have told me they had to go out and get “Real Jobs.”  Now, that’s sad.  Not because they got a job, but that they felt they HAD to get a job outside of diving.

Here’s my advice. If you really love diving but do not like the Business of Diving, by all means, get a job and scuba dive as a Hobby.  You and your family will all be a lot happier because of that decision.  The industry professionals who do this for a living will be happier too because we will have less people running under capitalized businesses, trying to scrape together just enough money to pay the mortgage.  We’ll also have one more customer !

Now here’s the good news.  There is plenty of opportunity in the diving industry.  And where there is opportunity, there is hope.  People are still getting certified, albeit not as many as in the Baby Boom Era.  Divers are still buying gear, although maybe not from you.  And people are traveling – lots of them.  I believe the Travel Industry is a 4 Trillion Dollar industry.  However, things are changing rapidly in the 21st Century Business Model.  We have to put training, and the need for it in perspective.  We have to analyze why people buy gear, and when, and where.  We have to embrace travel as the reason people buy gear and take lessons to begin with.  And have you noticed the massive increase in large, all inclusive Resorts that have large, Independent Dive Operator Companies running their dive programs?  We have.

I believe that our industry needs to embrace Training, Equipment and Travel as 3 parts of the whole picture.  Like a 3 legged stool, each part must be equal and balanced.  In our DIVE LOCAL program we talk about the 4 priorities of diving – 1) Learn to Dive  2) Buy Your Gear  3) Go Diving  4) Stay Active.  It’s that simple.

The Dive Industry Association and it’s non-profit training organization, The Dive Industry Foundation is embarking on a program to write a white paper that shows the industry how we can Unify the Diving Industry, step by step.  This white paper will be a summation of industry intelligence that we, as a collective industry of professionals have compiled since the 1950’s.  We are in the process of assembling a list of successful dive industry professionals that have lived, worked and enjoyed this industry from the beginning.  It will be a story of how things started, how they grew, how and when they changed, and what we can, and should do about it in the future.

We are in the process of writing the introduction now.  We started with 10 steps that can help us unify the industry.  I’ll give you a hint on Step 1 to Unifying the Diving Industry.  You are doing it right now.  STEP 1:  Subscribe to this Blog to get updates every time a new Chapter is written.  We will start sending out invitations to subscribing to this blog, this week.

If anyone is interested in giving me the benefit of their diving business experience, I would be happy to contact you by email, phone, or personal visit, as appropriate.  For more information, contact Gene Muchanski, 2294 Botanica Circle, West Melbourne, FL 32904.  Phone: 321-914-3778.  eMail: gene@divindustry.net

Reference:  Dive Industry Blog – www.DiveIndustryNews.Wordpress.com

Reference:  Consumer Website & Directory – www.DiveLocal.org

 

 

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The Magic of an Industry Database

The Magic of an Industry Database
by Gene Muchanski, Executive Director
Dive Industry Association, Inc.

Dive Industry Association is in the business of “Building a Better Industry, One Member at a Time.”  To build a better industry, or a community as we like to call it, you have to know the businesses and industries that specialize in diving.  To understand the various markets we are in, you need to know the Buyers and Sellers in each market.  You need to know the people who work in the industry and you need to develop a business relationship with them.

In the old days, LISTS were important to us.  We all wanted to know how many Manufacturers, Reps, Dive Stores, Instructors, Dive Boats, Dive Clubs and Travel Businesses were in the Industry.  Everyone wanted “The List.”  We even argued over who had the better list.  When the internet came along, everyone had a list.  They were all different and in different stages of development.  Even non-businesses got on some lists.  Lists were bought and sold for a fee and many of them were old, dated, and stale.  When email grew in popularity, phone numbers, fax numbers and mailing addresses became less important.  Email addresses were King.  It cost 0 cents to email someone as compare to .48 cents for a first class postage stamp.  Trouble is, people change their email addresses too often and many business people don’t read their emails any more.  The biggest problems with sending an email to someone you don’t know is that it can be labeled as SPAM or go straight to the receiver’s trash.

We’ve come to realize that lists are not important anymore – relationships are.  It’s important to develop relationships with your customers and then keep in touch with them.  To do that you need their current contact information and you have to keep it current.  We found that it’s best to separate your customers into three categories;  Current Customers, Former Customers and Future Customers.  Each category has different protocol for sending messages and keeping in touch.

The best way to stay in touch with your customers is to create a database.  A database has to be easy to create and easy to maintain.  Over the years, Dive Industry Association has used different types of software for its data.  We currently have an Excel Database and a Card Scan Database.  We also have our database on Constant Contact and Sales Force.

Our Trade Database consists of over 5,000 Industry Professionals and our Consumer Database is over 20,000 Divers.  We don’t buy , sell of rent our list and we maintain our database for the sole purpose of “Building a Better Industry, One Member at a Time.”   As a Trade Association, it is our Mission to bring Buyers and Sellers together and grow the Recreational Diving Community.  We pride ourselves on being called “The Industry Rolodex.”

Over the next few months, Dive Industry Association will showcase and talk about its Card Scan Database, Constant Contact Database, our Database on Sales Force, and yes, our Excel Spreadsheet Database in our Monthly Newsletter, The Dive Industry Professional.

Industry Professionals:  Do we have your Business Card on File?  You can check our website at https://divelocal.wordpress.com and check one of the Regional  Directories to see if you are on it.  If you don’t think we have it, please mail us your current business card to Dive Industry Association, 2294 Botanica Circle, West Melbourne, FL  32904.   We will put you on our database and list you in the Industry’s Dive Local Directory for FREE.

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Whale Shark Diving in Belize

Photo by Bob Kaye

Whale Shark Diving and Snorkeling In Belize
by Ralph Capeling
Splash Dive Center – Belize

Every year divers flock to Placencia Belize to dive and snorkel with whale sharks – one of the few places the world where you can expect whale sharks to arrive on a scheduled basis (although they do not always seem to carefully check their calendars).

The Gladden Spit and Silk Cayes Marine Reserve located near Placencia in Southern Belize, is a spawning aggregation site for many different tropical fish species including cubera, mutton and dog snappers which produce tons of spawn. This spawning occurs around the full moon to last quarter during the months of March to June. This is what attracts the Whale Sharks to the Gladden spit. Whale sharks are the biggest fish in the ocean growing up to lengths of 60 feet/18mt. Divers and snorkelers get a rare opportunity to swim along with this magnificent creature.

The wall here slopes down to 160 feet/50mt then drops off into the blue abyss. Diving is done in mid water at a depth no deeper than 80 feet/24mt in groups no larger than 12 divers with their dive masters. Special procedures are followed on this dive to ensure safety and to limit any harm that may be caused to the sharks. Snorkeling is done on the surface in open water, however snorkelers have an excellent chance of seeing the whale sharks as they come to the surface to feed.

Splash Dive Center uses two methods to find whale sharks.  – looking for the snapper or looking for the birds.

  1. We use fish finders to find the snapper as the whale sharks come to feed on the spawning aggregation and put the divers in the water above the snapper. The divers try to stay with but well above the snapper and try to stay in a tight group so that the bubbles are concentrated.  The idea is that the whale shark will see the bubbles, think that is the spawn and come directly to the divers.  As the bubbles go to surface, often the whale sharks do too, so the snorkelers get a close encounter.  We have had some situations where the whale sharks came from the side rather than from the deep, so the snorkelers saw them but the divers who were looking down, did not see them.  Other times, the whale sharks have come close to the divers and then gone back down without tasting the bubbles.
  2. We watch for birds circling as when they flock over the sea because they are feeding on bait fish. Whale sharks also feed on bait fish and they do that on surface.  When we see the birds, we head for the spot.  Usually in this situation, the divers tend to stay at snorkel depths

Ralph Capeling of Splash Dive Center reports on whale shark sightings on ScubaBoard each year.  His posts for 2018 to date can be seen at https://www.scubaboard.com/community/threads/whale-sharks-2018.556434/page-2#post-8286770.  The April whale shark moon was very interesting with the whale sharks being found by watching for the birds.  His reports for 2017 which was a poor year for whale shark encounters at  https://www.scubaboard.com/community/threads/whale-shark-reports-2017.543105/  and his 2016 posts at the following link  at https://www.scubaboard.com/community/threads/whale-sharks-2016.524598/

The dates for the next two whale shark moon seasons are;  May 29th to June 10th and June 28th to July 12th.

Whale shark diving is blue water diving with no visual reference – you cannot see the reef or the bottom.  For that reason, with diver and guest safety paramount, Splash only takes advanced or experienced divers (30+ dives) to dive with whale sharks.  Splash also requires all divers to have done at least one dive tour with us before we take them to dive in the whale shark zone or to the Blue Hole (check out dive).

For additional information, go to Splash’s website  www.splashbelize.com and click on Contact Us or email ralph@splashbelize.com

Posted in Press Release, Travel Destinations | Leave a comment

New Artificial Reef in St. Lucia

PRESS RELEASE
The St. Lucia Divers Association – Anbaglo
May 20, 2018

RE : Sinking of the Vicky B in the Anse Chochon area as an artificial reef and a dive site.

The St. Lucia Divers Association – Anbaglo in collaboration with the Customs Department, Fisheries Department, St. Lucia Air and Sea Ports Authority, The St. Lucia Hotel and Tourism Associations’ Tourism Enhancement Fund, The Marine Police and the Minister of Tourism.

They came together for the sinking of the vessel Vicky B in the Anse Cochon area on Friday 18th May 2018.  The main aims were to increase the stock of dive sites and artificial reefs in St. Lucia, This is a climate change mitigation initiative as well as a product development move. This as St. Lucia moves to protect our natural reefs and fragile ecosystems by putting in and developing artificial reef to create additional habitats for our marine life, and additional dive sites to decrease the stress on our natural reefs.

This come on the heels of the sinking of the Barge SK-2, which capsized in Soufriere a couple months ago dumping it cargo near the Humming Bird Hotel. The Divers Association, Fisheries Department, SMMA and SLASPA quickly moved to seek permission from the relevant ministries to acquire and sink this barge in the Anse Cochon area for the same purpose.

The removal of the Vicky B from the Port Castries has also added to the efforts to beautify the harbor.

The next venture for The Divers Association in their product development, artificial reef, and dive site establishment is the acquisition and sinking of the Doggers Bank Tug. This Tug had sunk in the Castries Harbor some years ago. It is presently partially submerged in the Bannan Area of the Harbor.

Donovan Brown
President St. Lucia Divers Association – Anbaglo
Phone: 758-488-0482

Posted in Press Release, Travel Destinations | Leave a comment

Editorial – May 2018

The Seasonality of Diving
by Gene Muchanski
Editor, The Dive Industry Professional

The seasonality of an industry is mainly determined by the customer (The Buyers).  We Industry Professionals (The Sellers) take our recreation’s seasonality curve into consideration when planning our inventory purchases, training schedules, activities calendar, our marketing and advertising expenditures and even our personnel vacations.  The variables that go into determining your “Season” are Time of Year, Holidays, School Schedules, Work Schedules, Weather, the Traditional Four Seasons and of course, Tourism Capacity, Prices, Occupancy Rates and Availability. Depending on your location and the type of diving you represent, your “Season” may vary from others in the industry.   The greatest variable factor in the seasonality mix is the weather.  We cannot control the weather but we can prepare for it and make any necessary contingency plans when it affects us negatively.

The basic season for the average recreational diver, with children, is from Memorial Day through Labor Day.  In the United States, that’s May 31 – September 4th.  Kids are out of school and the family plans its vacation accordingly. This standard season affects parents with school aged children and Teachers.  An important demographic in the diving industry may be Grandparents and Great-Grandparents with school aged children too.  Check with your customer base and see if this season applies to them.

The changing weather patterns in the traditional Four Seasons (Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall) has dictated the type of diving and the location for the average recreational diver.  If it’s too cold in Chicago in January, then maybe a diving vacation in the Caribbean is a tempting alternative.  But bad weather can easily be combated by properly outfitting your local divers and thereby extending the diving season or creating a “new season.”  I remember looking forward to December diving in Southern California.  The water was usually very calm and very clear.  I’ve seen many 100+ ft visibility days on my December Catalina Dives off of Ship’s Rock.  You just had to prepare for the weather.

Dealing with different seasonality curves can be interesting, challenging, or FUN.  It all depends on you and your imagination.   Heck, in Florida we have Four Season too. Love Bug Season, Tourist Season, Hurricane Season and Summer!  You can either fight it or make it work for you.  Your choice.

Well, I have to go and make plans for my new season – Dive Season.  We just finished Trade Show Season in April and Hurricane Season and Planning Season are next in line.  Might as well go diving.

See you in Long Beach.

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DIA Members To Exhibit at Scuba Show – Long Beach 2018

Dive Industry Association Members at Scuba Show
by Gene Muchanski, Executive Director
Dive Industry Association, Inc.

The following Dive Industry Association Members are exhibiting at Scuba Show on June 23-24, 2018 at the Long Beach Convention Center in Long Beach, CA.  Make it a point to visit our DIA Members FIRST.

Local Dive Operators

Manufacturers

Travel Businesses, Destinations, Resorts, & Dive Operators

Non-Profit Organizations

Posted in Shows & Events | Leave a comment

Tektite Industries Recognized as a New Jersey Sustainable Business

MARCH 15, 2018 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

TEKTITE INDUSTRIES Recognized as a New Jersey Sustainable Business.

Small businesses across New Jersey are starting to save money, share their successes and inspire other businesses by implementing sustainable business best practices. Joining this list, TEKTITE INDUSTRIES, located in Trenton, NJ, became one of the first businesses in the state to be recognized as a New Jersey Sustainable Business.

In August of 2014, the New Jersey Small Business Development Centers (NJSBDC) launched the New Jersey Sustainable Business Registry. The registry is an Internet site where businesses that have implemented sustainable business practices can register their achievements and be recognized.

  • TEKTITE achieved recognition because, as a company, they practice energy conservation and recycling. They:
    – Use recycled paper products when possible.
    – Reuse or recycle their industrial scrap.
    – Reuse or recycle their incoming packing materials and cartons.
    – Use energy-efficient lighting.
    – Use energy-saving machinery controls.
    – Use single-stream recycling dumpsters.
    – Equipment is used in their manufacturing processes to conserve and recycle coolant water, heating their building, conserving fresh water, and reducing liquid waste.
    Some of TEKTITE products are designed to directly reduce the amount of plastic and/or
    hazardous waste:
    – The Mark-Lite product line provides an environmentally friendly Chemical Lightstick
    Alternative™. Plus, the Mark-Lite helps reduce operation cost by 80% as well. Many Diving resort destinations have banned the use of chemical sticks as a result of their offering a reusable alternative.
    – Their ELZ, Traffic Strobes, and Marine SOS strobe products reduce or eliminate the need for chemical incendiary flares, reducing hazardous combustion products, and hazardous waste of date-expired, unused flares.

    TEKTITE efforts resulted in the reduction of wastewater, landfill volume, and energy savings. Tektite was founded on green/sustainable principles in 1990. They are concerned about the environment and are committed to improving the Earth’s environmental condition.

    For more information about the registry visit: http://registry.njsbdc.com/

    For more information about TEKTITE INDUSTRIES visit: www.tek-tite.com

Posted in Environment, Press Release | Leave a comment

DIA Members to Exhibit at Scuba & Watersports Expo 2018 – Tacoma, WA

by Gene Muchanski, Executive Director
Dive Industry Association, Inc.

The following Dive Industry Association Members are exhibiting at the Scuba & Watersports Expo on April 21-22, 2018 at the Greater Tacoma Convention Center in Tacoma, WA.  Make it a point to visit our DIA Members FIRST.

Retail Dive Centers

Manufacturers

Travel Agents & Wholesalers

Travel Businesses, Destinations, Resorts, & Dive Operators

Non-Profits & Associations

Media, Shows & Events, Retail Services

Posted in Shows & Events | Leave a comment