Editorial – February 2020

The Evolution or Unraveling of the Diving Industry –
by Gene Muchanski
Editor, The Dive Industry Professional 

The Diving Industry Association is celebrating its Twenty Year Anniversary in April. It’s time to renew our “vows” and offer our services and support to the international diving community for the next twenty years.  The decision to renew our commitment is an easy one to make.  The part that makes me pause to think about what we are offering, is another story.  As a community, are our needs the same they were 20 years ago?  In fact, do we have the same needs we had 40 years ago?  If our needs are different, then the solution is an easy one.  Do something new that meets the current needs of the market. But if our needs are the same as they have always been, then we MUST do something new because what we did in the past 40 years didn’t work.

For the past few years I have been sharply focusing on meeting the current needs of dive industry professionals.  To me, it’s all about helping business owners and managers make their companies more professional, more proficient and more profitable.  Growing professionally means learning new skills and staying abreast of your industry’s best practices.  Becoming more proficient means getting the most done with the least investment of your time, money and manpower.  Being more profitable means that you invested your time, money and manpower correctly and received a suitable return on your investment.

Running a business is a combination of art and science.  First of all, you have to know how to run a business and there has to be someone in your company who focuses on running the business, not doing the things a business does.  Running a business is about buying, merchandising, marketing, selling, accounting and law.  Doing the things a business does means you are teaching classes, selling equipment, conducting travel, repairing equipment and the hundreds of other things entrepreneurs do.

Forty years ago we had 2,400 dive stores in the United States.  Today we have about 1,200.  I don’t call a 50% decline in our retail sector a success!  In fact, if this trend continues, there won’t be a diving industry in the near future.  The reason for the decline is obvious to many in the industry but for one reason or the other, not everyone wants to talk about it.  I would like to share with you some explanation about this decline that I discovered recently when reorganizing and streamlining my industry notes and publications from the past forty years.

Recently I have been reorganizing my diving industry books, magazines, catalogs, brochures and notes.  It’s one way of throwing out a bunch of junk but saving the important documents for future use.  The goal is to turn our business of diving history into a workable business library  that can be accessed by our Members and Sponsors.

Many of the books and magazines I have from the 1960’s shows scuba diving as a recreation starting up and growing.  A flurry of content was written about scuba diving education.  The decade was all about learning to dive.  The 70’s showed divers buying gear to spearfish, photograph and travel.  The certification agencies were teaching divers to become instructors who could, in turn, teach more divers.  The sale of diving equipment had a long way to go and travel was still a luxury.  I saw the retail sector boom in the 1980’s.  The focus now was on teaching people how to dive, selling them gear and taking them diving locally.  Retail stores were doing very well.  Training Agencies were growing and getting more sophisticated.  Their books and training aids were better than ever.  Equipment Manufacturers were in charge of the industry and sales were good.  The travel Industry was starting to grow and offering some amazing diving opportunities outside of the United States.

During the peak years of scuba diving as a recreation, the sale of diving equipment, training and travel was substantial and definitely the focus of the industry.  The one subject matter that did not grow correctly was the Business of Diving.  Very little was written about the need for professional business training in the recreation.  With the exception of one training agency that promoted itself as a Training Agency for Dive Shops, what was written about business topics for dive industry professionals was limited and lacking in quality.  Another major short-coming about the business articles of the time was that it was limited to dive stores only.  No one wrote or talked about the need for Manufacturers, Sales Reps, Training Agencies or Travel Companies to learn about starting a business, running a successful business or succeeding in business.  Much of what I read about the business of diving in the 80’s was written by non-business people who had never owned and operated a business and for that matter, never worked in the diving industry.

Starting around 1990, the retailing sector began its decline, knowing a lot about training, equipment repair and travel, but knowing very little about the business of diving.  We know that dive retailing is highly competitive and it takes a large capital investment to get started.  It also takes a hugh invest in time and talent to successfully operate.  A dive store owner needs to understand the products, the market and the profession.  The profession includes, retailing, merchandising, computing, sales, marketing, accounting, law, and human resources.

In the coming year, the Dive Industry Foundation plans to research the dive community’s past business of diving training history.  Our hope is to work with dive industry professionals to fill the gap with solid dive business training.  One of our researchers will be asking the dive community for books, magazines and business articles we current don’t have but need. Business of Diving information can be shared with Gene Muchanski at gene@diveindustry.net


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Regional Dive Show Communities

Regional Dive Show Component Communities –
by Gene Muchanski
Editor, The Dive Industry Professional 

I’ve come to realize that the main strength of the diving industry is our sense of community.  Think about it.  What we all have in common is the fact that we are scuba divers.  As a whole, we are individuals, adventurers, explorers, risk takers, environmentalists, and water men & women.  We are out-going, gregarious, and social individuals.   Learning to scuba dive and being active in the recreation takes a special kind of person with a curiosity and respect for the unknown.   When we meet another scuba diver, we like to say, You’re a diver?  Me too!  Scuba Divers are created locally.  Local Dive Industry Professionals are our front line ambassadors who teach people how to dive, sell them gear, and take them diving.  After a person gets certified, it’s up to them to stay active in the recreation.  Hence, a local diving community is born.

Regional Diving Communities:  I’ve been working on building Regional Diving Communities for a number of years now.  I always thought of the International Diving Community, as being broken down into Regional Territories.  i.e. Continents, Countries, Territories.   We always think about the Local Diving Community when we get involved in Regional Dive Shows.  Beneath the Sea brings the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Dive Community together.  Our World Underwater caters to the North Central Dive Community.  Scuba Show has done an excellent job bringing the California and Southwest Dive Communities together.  These shows have historically been the annual highlight of their respective community for many years.  Regional diving communities are a very important concept to promote.  Unfortunately, we are seeing the decline of our regional diving community concept.

With the advent of Our World Underwater Dive & Travel Show being cancelled this year and having to be rescheduled for 2021, our Association began examining the causes of this regional decline.  I think I may have something here and I’m hoping you’ll give it some thought and get back to me.

We have known for more than ten years now that Regional Dive Shows were losing market share and were in a steady decline.  With the advent of international dive travel, the desire to dive locally has declined and so has our affiliation with local dive shops.  The internet has made dive travel and equipment purchasing much easier and we have lost the social aspect of being involved in a local dive club and local dive store community.  Still, this doesn’t explain the paradigm shift in the makeup of the dive communities that are within each and every Regional Dive Community.  It seems that every regional dive show is a composite of nine fully functional and independent dive community groups.  Let’s look at them in more detail.

Dive Show Component Communities:  This is one community we are working with more this year.  Here’s why:  1) I believe in Regional Dive Communities.  2) I believe that Regional Dive Shows are a local community’s major annual event.  3) I believe that our industry must work to improve and strengthen our Regional Dive Shows.  With that said, I want to state why I feel that a regional dive show is made up of nine separate dive communities.  I don’t want to put a priority on any one of the groups because I feel that all of the groups are needed to make an annual event successful.  A balanced regional dive show is made up of workshops, seminars, film shows, exhibits, meetings, social events, sponsors, show staff, and attendees.  Each section has their own dive community.  Members of each community usually know each other, hang together, dive together and socialize together at regional events.  Sometimes they know members of the other communities, but many times they don’t.  This is based on my 50 years of experience with regional dive shows and events, but it is still one man’s personal opinion and observation.  I’d be interested in hearing your comments.

  1. At most of the regional shows and events, you will have individuals and companies conducting workshops before, during or after a local show.  I’ve seen cylinder training, regulator maintenance and repair, training updates and crossovers and photography workshops of all kinds.  They bring in attendees, training and revenue, but they tie up an attendee’s time for nearly a whole day.  The Workshop Community is small.
  2. Seminars are the meat and potatoes of a regional dive show.  It’s what most attendees come to see.  Historically, it is what defines a show, and could be local or international in scope.  Ticket sales contribute to the profitability of an event.  The Speaker Community is quite extensive, seasoned and diverse.  They are our industry story tellers and may be regionally based or international in notoriety.  This community is under appreciated and usually does not market their talents outside of their own community.  If there is one community that our industry needs to spend more time promoting, it’s this one.  Dive Industry Association maintains a database of seminar speakers, photographers and film makers.
  3. Film Shows can be more important than seminars if they are conducted properly.  I remember going to Underwater Film Shows in the 70’s and was amazed by the presentations.  I remember Jacques Cousteau, Jean-Michel Cousteau, Stan Waterman, and John Stoneman giving their presentations and amazing the audience.  It was the way I recharged my industry professional batteries. Unfortunately, many of my peers in the Exhibiting Community don’t go to film shows anymore because we are either too tired after a day of standing in our booths or we are out with clients at night.  That needs to change.  The Photographers and Videographers in this community are highly specialized and are in high demand for their talents, films and presentations.
  4. The Exhibit Hall is what pays for the cost of the venue.  Without exhibitors there would either be no show or admission prices would have to be much higher to cover the costs of a commercial venue.   Hotels and Convention Centers are very costly to rent.  You could see how important Exhibitors are to a show.  Universities and Colleges, however, sometimes donate space to non-profit organizations who hold their events on campus.  Our database includes over 1,000 exhibitors in the diving exhibitor community.  If you add some of the travel, apparel, outdoor, boating and watersports exhibitors, it would be in the tens of thousands.   Exhibitors do better at events that are called expos, where the focus is on the sale of goods in the exhibit hall.
  5. Meetings could be an intricate part of an annual regional event.  There are many advantages for organizations and associations to schedule their annual meeting during a regional event.  The venue is already booked and many dive industry professionals have saved the date in their calendars.  All an organization needs is to book a few hours in a meeting room and provide drinks and snacks.  Sponsoring a party for their group would even be a bigger reason for their members to attend.  After the meeting, there is something to do for their group members.  Many groups have negotiated discount tickets to the event from the show producers.
  6. Social events at an annual regional show are very important.  They are best when the actual participants are invited to participate.  We’ve all been to annual events where private social activities were going on during the time the event was taking place.  There is nothing worse than paying over $1,000 for booth space that you have to staff while a party is going on.  That one particular disconnect is what reduces exhibitor participation at many regional shows.  It’s not the act, it’s the attitude.  On a positive note, we’ve all been to events, both regionally and nationally where the show producers sponsor parties and hospitality suites for the attendees to meet and mingle with the speakers, exhibitors, industry leaders and show staff.  Those are the types of social events we all remember and cherish.  That’s what building a regional community is all about.  In fact, it’s the perfect way to intermingle and unite different communities.
  7. Sponsors.  We have a database of dive companies who are willing to put up money to help pay for regional, national and international meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE).  They are paying for “eyeballs” and will only come on-board after you can assure them that you have a full and interesting show agenda, have secured a large number of exhibitors and can almost guarantee a large attendee turnout.  Sponsorship dollars can be used for advertising and special perks, like socials and hospitality suites.  Remember, exhibitor revenue pays for the venue.
  8. Putting on a Regional Event is not a one person job.  It takes an entire staff to put together a successful show.  Beneath the Sea is a sterling example of a regional show that has a large, volunteer, community based staff who all have jobs, titles and specific responsibilities.  One of the best volunteer staffs I have ever seen in the diving industry was the volunteer staff from Sea Space, the annual dive show held in Houston, Texas.  If you exhibited there in the past, you may remember the volunteers helping you unload your vehicle, park your car and even fill in for you at your booth so you can have a potty break.  Of course, even the volunteers at Sea Space didn’t make us sandwiches for lunch like the volunteers at Seas Scuba Expo in North Carolina did.  Those were the days.  Having a large, organized volunteer staff brings the local diving community together and makes them feel like it’s their show, not the private enterprise of one person or one person’s personal charity.
  9. And finally, the attendees.  It’s all about the attendees.  and I don’t mean only in numbers only.  I mean in quality.  Giving free admission tickets at the bus stop to increase your number count does the speakers, exhibitors and sponsors no good at all.  We should be seeking qualified attendees who want what we offer and are willing to pay for it.  Then everyone wins.  Attendees are the reason we do all this work for.  You may ask, what do the attendees want to see at a regional dive show?  Exhibits of dive equipment, training and travel?  Seminars? Workshops?  Film Festivals?  Are they there for meetings or social events?  Well, the answer is YES to everything.  Remember, we are not calling it an Expo, where the focus is only on buying stuff from the exhibit booths.   We are also not calling it a Professional Development Conference where the focus is on educational seminars and workshops.  It’s an Annual Regional Dive & Travel Show where everything the attendees want is available, in one place in one weekend.  Pretty simple.

I hope you enjoyed my rant about Annual Regional Events and their associated communities.  Now I would like to give you some ideas that may help to make them more meaningful and successful.

  1. Show Producers – Plan your events for the next three years and publicize the dates.  Establish a volunteer staff, delegate responsibilities and have follow-up meetings monthly.
  2. Speakers and Exhibitors – Commit to your participation one and 1/2 years (18 months) in advance.  Pay your deposits early.
  3. Local Dive Stores & Dive Community – Save the date for your participation.  Don’t plan trips or classes during the event weekend.
  4. Local Dive Clubs and Non-Profit Organizations – Plan to conduct your annual meeting during the show.  Negotiate discount tickets for your members through the show organizers.
  5. Social Celebrities and Hall of Famers – Plan your meetings and fundraisers for your Regional Members during this time.  Enjoy the fruits of our labor.
  6. Sponsors and Large Dive Companies – Become a sponsor and assist with advertising one year in advance.  Arrange for social events, soirees, and hospitality suites at the host hotel.
  7. Industry Media – Promote the show regionally, nationally, and internationally starting one year in advance.
  8. Competing dive, surf, outdoor, and travel shows – Don’t plan to hold your event during the same weekend as our Region’s Annual Events.  At least not in the same region.  You wouldn’t like it if they did the same to you.

So now we can begin a Regional Event revival and bring back Annual Regional Dive & Travel Shows & Events to their former glory days.  Your thoughts?

For more information, comments or suggestions, contact Gene Muchanski, Executive Director, Dive Industry Association.  Gene can be reached at gene@diveindustry.net

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Editorial – January 2020

Our Communities Make Us Strong –
by Gene Muchanski
Editor, The Dive Industry Professional 

I’ve come to realize that the main strength of the diving industry is our sense of community.  Think about it.  What we all have in common is the fact that we are scuba divers.  As a whole, we are individuals, adventurers, explorers, risk takers, environmentalists, and water men & women.  We are out-going, gregarious, and social individuals.   Learning to scuba dive and being active in the recreation takes a special kind of person with a curiosity and respect for the unknown.   When we meet another scuba diver, we like to say, You’re a diver?  Me too!  But there is a potential down side to diving communities.  If taken too far, it could lead to fragmentation, isolation and the decline of the diving industry.  Let’s look at the different types of diving communities.

Regional Diving Communities:  I’ve been working on building Regional Diving Communities for a number of years now.  I always thought of the International Diving Community as being broken down into Regional Territories.  i.e. Continents, Countries, Territories.   We always think about the Local Diving Community when we get involved in Regional Dive Shows.  Beneath the Sea brings the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Dive Communities together.  Our World Underwater caters to the North Central Dive Community.  Scuba Show has done an excellent job bringing the California and Southwest Dive Communities together.  These shows have historically been the annual highlight of their respective community for many years.  Regional diving communities are a very important concept to promote.  Unfortunately, we are seeing the decline of our regional diving community concept as seen in the Pacific Northwest, the South Central Territory and recently in the Greater Chicago Area or North Central Territory.

With the advent of the Our World Underwater Dive & Travel Show being cancelled this year and having to be rescheduled for 2021, our Association began examining the causes of this regional decline.  I think I may have something here and I’m hoping you’ll give it some thought and get back to me.

We still have a strong sense of being a part of a scuba divers community.  Being a Scuba Diver is still special but only a small percentage of our population are divers.  With the advent of international dive travel, the desire to dive locally has declined and so has our willingness to affiliate with a favorite local dive shop.  The internet has made dive travel and equipment purchasing much easier and we have lost the social aspect of being involved in a local dive club and local dive store community.  Still, this doesn’t explain the paradigm shift in the makeup of dive communities.

Occupational Communities:  Another type of community that is very important in our industry is the occupational community.  Dive Equipment Manufacturers have their community and so do Retail Dive Centers.  The Dive Travel Community is an especially close-knit group.  They share clients a lot and many times have worked for their competitors at one time or another.  The Sales Rep Community is very strong in our industry due to the fact that a lot of reps work for many different companies and usually bounce from one company to another over their career.  Sales Reps probably have more in common with each other than some of the other occupational communities.

Certification Agency Communities:  I almost don’t want to write about this one.  Over the past 45 years, I’ve seen both the good side of these communities and the bad side.  Identifying with a particular vendor or brand can be a very positive thing for a company or an individual.  If orchestrated properly it can bring large groups of dive industry professionals together for a successful event, meeting or gathering.

Dive Show Component Communities:  This is one community I hope to work with more this year.  Here’s why:  1) I believe in Regional Dive Communities.  2) I believe that Regional Dive Shows are a local community’s major annual event.  3) I believe that our industry must work to improve and strengthen our Regional Dive Shows.  With that said, I want to state why I feel that a regional dive show is made up of nine separate dive communities.  I don’t want to put a priority on any one of the groups because I feel that all of the groups are needed to make an annual event successful.  A balanced regional dive show is made up of workshops, seminars, film shows, exhibits, meetings, social events, sponsors, show staff, and attendees.  Each section has their own dive community.  Members of each community usually know each other, hang together, dive together and socialize together at regional events.  Sometimes they know members of the other communities, many times, they don’t.

In order to keep this editorial short, I have written a separate blog on the subject of Dive Show Component Communities where we go into full detail on the nine component groups of a successful regional dive show.  Stay tuned to this blog site.

We have all belonged to various communities in our life.  Some of us are Veterans.  That’s a large community.  We may have also belonged to other specialty communities like Navy Divers, Police Officers, Submariners, Special Warfare Units, you name it.  Each specialty group brought its own recognition and significance.  The scuba diving community is like that.  We all have that in common and it could be very comfortable and what binds us together.

Where this all ties in is our efforts to grow our businesses and our industry.  A number of Industry Professionals are looking out at other industries to increase their economical potential.  Looking for greener pastures and better hunting grounds may be a novel idea, but you have to be very careful when you allocate your resources of time, money and manpower.  A good example is participating in an expensive travel show that has more attendees than a competing regional dive show.  Some companies may be willing to pay more money for booth space because the show draws more attendees but will it result in more potential customers for your type of business?  5% of a larger number may not be as good as 95% of a small number.  If crossing over into another industry destroys our regional diving community we may be shooting ourselves in the foot.  That’s not something to take lightly.

The only thing that is going to allow our industry to grow is to get all of our Dive Industry Professionals to work together to build our regional diving communities and their local events and businesses.   I honestly feel that “United We Stand, Divided We Fall.”

For more information, contact Gene Muchanski at gene@diveindustry.net

Editor’s Note:  This week, the industry lost a very special person.  Mike Hanna suddenly passed away, apparently from a heart attack.  I first learned of Mike’s passing from friends in the Sales Rep Community, who were very close to Mike over the years. When a tragedy happens, it’s usually our friends and family who are the first to know. Our condolences to Mike’s family and friends.  He will be missed.




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20 Years of Kids Sea Camp

20 Years of Kids Sea Camp
By Margo Peyton, President
Kid’s Sea Camp – Family Divers

The beginning of Kids Sea Camp seemed like just a few moments ago not 20 years in 2000. Robbie was only 6 and Jen then 4. As a mother and businesswoman I wanted so much to spend time with them and to be with them every day. I wanted to watch them grow up in front of me and show them the world rather than have them read about it in a book.

I was a single mother with two kids, working 8 am to 6 pm six days a week at a dive travel agency back then. In the summer it was impossible to find camps that I felt were educational, safe, fun and enriching my two children lives the way I wanted to be doing myself. Jennifer would get so upset when I had to go away and lead trips. She wanted to know why she could not come. Robbie was combative and angry about being at the other day camps I would sign him up for. It was really a huge dilemma for me.

Carolyn Pascal, then the publisher of Skin Diver magazine and I were sitting on a beach in the Bahamas during another work trip, and both of us were missing our kids. I said to her, that I truly wished we could find a way to take our kids on dive trips. She agreed and right there we started creating a vision that would become one of the greatest ideas I have ever had. Carolyn had the media and I had the resorts.

We together pooled our resources and the first Kids Sea Camp family dive adventure week took place in Curacao with Ocean Encounters and the Curacao Sea Aquarium in 2000. I had just 7 families that first trip. Fast forward now Kids Sea Camp is going into 20th year in 2020. My own daughter Jen will be 24 and Rob will be 26.  My kids are grown and so are many of the 7,000 plus other kids that have become certified divers through Kids Sea Camp over the past 20 years. Now Kids Sea Camp has over 300 families a year that travel to 13 plus countries with 20 weeks each year.

I’m so very proud and grateful to my dive industry PADI and the dive media and SCUBAPRO as well as all the resorts and dive operators who have stood by me and celebrated our brand together. I’m thankful to all the families for choosing Kids Sea Camp as their choice for their family dive vacation. Some of those kids and even instructors now have their own families and keep coming. Many are now grandparents who are bringing their grand kids.

When I ask them why they choose Kids Sea Camp, they tell me, “Because time is the most important thing in life Margo! Time with our kids and our grand kids is priceless.”  Making memories that will last a lifetime is what they want to do. That’s our tagline and we do just that!  Our trips cater to elderly divers, young divers, experienced divers, and even non-divers. We are special needs friendly and cater to all families. Kids Sea Camp is a safe, fun and educational authentic family vacation, that is focused on the underwater world and each other. It’s a place where kids unplug from their virtual worlds and reconnect to each other and the outdoor world.

In 2006, Tom Peyton asked me to marry him, and we became a family running a family dive vacation company. Tom left the news industry and joined Kids Sea Camp full time in 2013. From just little me to an awesome professional dive adventure team

20 for 2020: We are so excited to be celebrating 20 years of business this year with 20 Kids Sea Camp event weeks in 2020.  I hope you will join us! In celebration of our 20 years, we have now created new “Empty Nester” dive trips for those parents like me that have grown-up kids, but still, want to travel with someone they know and trust. We have new destinations and liveaboards as well as PADI Pro courses for all those kids turning 18 and older that want to become Dive Masters or even Dive instructors. We will be celebrating our 20th year of business at each incredible destination.

For more information, contact Margo Peyton at www.familydivers.com


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The 50th Annual Our World Underwater

Exhibiting at Our World-Underwater Chicago 

by Gene Muchanski, Executive Director

Dive Industry Association, Inc.

The 50th Annual Our World-Underwater Dive and Travel Show in Chicago is scheduled for February 29 – March 1, 2020.  The weekend event will be held at the Marriott O’Hare Hotel & Convention Center.  This year’s Film Festival will feature the work of Brian Skerry and Jill Heinerth.  Our World Underwater has been one of the top three dive shows in the country for 50 years now and is the largest Dive & Travel Expo in the Midwest.   The Greater Chicago area has one of the highest concentrations of Dive Industry Professionals and certified Divers in the United States.  This year’s annual Our World Underwater Dive & Travel Show will feature Workshops, Seminars, an Exhibit Hall, and a Saturday Evening Film Festival.

The purpose of a dive show is to bring the local diving community together once a year to highlight and showcase diving at its best in an area.  It’s a once-in-a-year opportunity to bring as many people together in a short period of time to discuss and showcase the latest and greatest Diving Equipment, Training and Travel.  It’s an opportunity to meet world-class explorers and see their work in their exhibit booths, at their seminars and on the big screen at the Film Festival.  A Regional Dive Show is also the social highlight of the year for its local diving community.  You’ll see old friends and meet new ones.  You’ll get a chance to meet and speak with world-class explorers you may have only read about.

The business side of Regional Diving Shows is not to be ignored or even under estimated.  Face-to-face Marketing is the most powerful component of any business marketing strategy.  There is no other time of year when a business can meet with so many of their suppliers and accounts in one place during one weekend.  It is the most cost effective way of reaching your customers.

Manufacturers and Sales Reps should schedule meetings at Regional Dive Shows with their accounts to touch base, introduce new equipment and sell products.  Even in the 20th Century, Sales Reps knew how expensive it was to go on the road and visit each and every one of their Dealers.  In fact, I don’t know of any Rep who did it well enough.  It’s too expensive, too time consuming and too counter-productive to think that you are going to visit 250 Dealers in a seven-state territory in a short period of time.  And now in the digital age of the 21st Century, face-to-face marketing is even more important to maintain your professional relationships with your customers.

Face-to-face marketing is essential to maintaining a professional relationship with your current customers, a chance to reconnect with your former customers and an excellent way to meet new customers.  It is the only way for Dive Stores to meet new people who want to become Divers before competitors establish first contact with them.  Once a competitor has established contact with a new student, chances of getting them as a customer, selling them equipment, teaching them advanced educational courses or selling them travel vacations is most likely out of the question.  Our job as Meeting Planners is to give Scuba Instructors the opportunity to reach perspective scuba students before someone else does.  The early bird catches the worm and the second mouse doesn’t always get the cheese.

The Dive Travel Specialists in our industry have gotten face-to-face marketing down cold.  They realize that continual presence is necessary to put heads on beds and butts on seats.  Unless you are in the mind of your customer when they are ready to make a purchasing decision, you and your company will quickly be forgotten.  Your website, facebook page and emails are quickly forgotten when a live Travel Specialist presents a dive traveler with their brochure, sales pitch and show special.  If you are exhibiting at the show with them, you have a chance to compete.  If you aren’t, you don’t.

The Dive Industry Association specializes in working with our Members to promote their business, pave the way for sales and make the necessary referrals to prospective buyers.  We understand the buying patterns of current customers, former customers and future customers.  We know how to close sales by focusing on pre-show, at-show and post-show marketing.  And best of all, we understand the need to integrate digital, print and face-to-face marketing.  Right now we are working with exhibitors to have a successful Our World Underwater Experience.  Maybe we could do the same for you?

The Dive Industry Association has been asked to assist the show producers by selling booth space at Our World Underwater.  We have some excellent specials for you, especially if you exhibited in 2019.  Contact Gene Muchanski at gene@diveindustry.net for more information.

I do want to point out a few important details about volunteering our time, money and manpower to a regional show.  Selling booth space is not our main goal.  It just so happens that we know who the exhibitors are and how to get a hold of them.  Booth  sales is an outcome we work toward by promoting the workshops, seminars, exhibit hall and social activities to potential attendees in the area.  A successful show is all about Workshops, Seminars, Exhibits and Social Activities. When we get local Industry Professionals to participate in the show, it brings in record numbers of attendees.  The more we promote the show, the bigger and better it gets.  When we reach a certain “eyeballs” number, we get sponsors and advertisement commitments.  DIVE LOCAL has started a website page that shows how many Industry Professionals are located in the North Central United States.  Check out our directory.  If we don’t have you listed, that means we don’t have your business card on file.  Simply put one in the mail to Dive Industry Foundation, 2294 Botanica Circle, West Melbourne, FL 32904 to get your free listing.

I just wanted to remind all Industry Professionals in the Greater Chicago area that the Our World Underwater Dive & Travel Show is their Annual Regional Event.  If they put in the effort, it will draw in support and dollars from the National and International Diving Community.  It’s your call Chicago!

Get Involved and Be There.  See you in Chicago.  Safe Travels.

Posted in Shows & Events, Trade & Consumer Shows | Leave a comment

Editorial – December 2019

Our Destiny Is To Grow – Much Larger –
by Gene Muchanski
Editor, The Dive Industry Professional 

A Trade Association is a group of people or companies in a particular business or trade, organized to promote their common interests.  That is what the Dive Industry Association has been doing from the very beginning, 20 years ago.  In the past few years we have crystallized in writing, who we are, what we do and why.  We formed an association who’s Mission is to bring Buyers & Sellers together.  Our focus is to first work with the Sellers of diving equipment, training and travel services to penetrate the market and reach people who need, want and can afford our products.  These are the Buyers we all seek.  Dive Industry Association’s second focus is to identify all the potential Buyers in our community.  Our Message to the General Buying Public is;  1) Learn to Dive,  2) Buy Your Gear, and  3) Go Diving.  To help perpetuate the recreational industry and grow, we added 4) Stay Active.

Our approach to making an impact in the market is a three-pronged strategy.  Like a three-legged bar stool, it needs all three legs to stand.  1) Dive Industry Foundation is our   501(c)(3) non-profit, tax-exempt, educational, charitable organization that performs the work that is normally  non-revenue generating.  We conduct primary research, data collection, industry analysis, problem recognition and solution recommendations to help industry professionals plan achievable successful outcomes.   2) The Dive Industry Association is our Member Trade Association Marketing Company that uses advanced marketing tools and technologies to market and promote our Members in this very competitive and declining market.  Our goal is to help our Members successfully market their diving equipment, training, travel and service products to recreational buyers.  3) The DIVE LOCAL Campaign identifies the Total Available Market, worldwide, and is recorded on a website for the world to see.  Identifying the total world market helps the industry determine the size and its economic potential.

In the past nineteen years we have worked hard to define the market, analyze it, and recommend solutions that help us succeed and grow as an industry.   We’ve spent over $300,000.00 researching and promoting hard-working dive industry professionals, while not taking a salary for ourselves.  If it were not for the 411 Dive Industry Association Members who have contributed over 1,500 annual memberships and the handful of dive companies who have sponsored our work in the community, we could never have accomplished what we have in the past nineteen years.  But looking back on those nineteen years, I have to tell you, it’s not enough!

We recently had a defining moment in our work as an Industry Trade Association.  What you might call an Ah-Ha Moment.  The Brevard Zoo in Viera, Florida was looking for a World-Class Celebrity to speak to 450 of their most generous Philanthropists at their annual fund raising event, “Safari Under the Stars” next year.  The Brevard Zoo has a world-class environmental program and Turtle Rescue Program that is the envy of many zoos across the country.  Wanting to host an internationally acclaimed celebrity in the environmental community they asked me if I had any recommendations.  I’ve always prided myself on knowing the diving community from top to bottom, and I can tell you that our industry database contains over 10,000 dive industry professionals, many of whom I know personally, on a first name basis.  What I quickly realized was that Jean-Michel Cousteau stood out as the most recognizable, authoritative and experienced Explorer, Ocean Ambassador and Working Environmentalist in the world, and no one else even came close to him.   It turns out that the environmental priorities of the Brevard Zoo and the environmental work being done by Jean-Michel Cousteau and his Ocean Futures Society was a perfect match.  I am happy to say that Jean-Michel Cousteau will, in fact, be speaking at the Brevard Zoo’s Safari Under The Stars next year.  But who do we get the following year?  And the year after that?  And the year after that?

I then began some research into non-profit organizations using GuideStar by Candid’s website  at www.guidestar.org   When looking at the annual revenue of non-profits that operate in our community, you’ll see that many of them are painfully small.  Granted, they may be dedicated to the environment and work hard to preserve and maintain it, but still too small none-the-less.  To add insult to injury, our Trade Associations in the diving community are no different.  Dive Industry Association has 123 active Members and a very small budget.  After being in business for 46 years, DEMA  has just 1,200 Members and annual revenue of $3,200,000.  After paying for the Dema Show, employee salaries, and a little bit for lobbying, what’s left to grow the Industry?

This is not an attack on Dive Industry Association, Dema or the diving industry.  It’s just a realization that we are too small as a scuba diving-only recreation.  This has got to change.  It’s Our Destiny to Grow Much Larger Than we Are Now.  A Trade Association in our niche market should have 8,000 Trade Members.  Our annual operating budget needs to exceed $100,0000,000.  And the Key Influencers in our circles of influence should be, well, more well known.  We may need to de-fragment the industry and offer more professional services that make businesses want to belong to a trade association.  We may even have to collaborate with other industries or niche markets to achieve the size we need to be more effective.  We have a lot to do to make it happen.

I can’t speak for anyone other than the Dive Industry Association but I will promise you that we will:  1) Continue to support the Dema Show as our community’s biggest and only annual Trade Expo, Professional Development Conference and Social Gathering.  2) Work to grow the Dive Industry Association to over 2,000 Members.  3) Pull out all the stops to seek funding for the Dive Industry Foundation in order to accomplish the industry research, analysis and promotion it needs.  4) Document the Total Market Size (worldwide) of our community to determine its current economical impact and total economical potential, using our resources at DIVE LOCAL.

To realize our potential as an industry I believe we need to work together always, collaborate whenever possible and have a common outcome that we all can work toward.  I am tired of working in a small, under-funded, declining industry that does not attracted the best and the brightest talent and does not have the funding or the ability to raise the necessary funding to do what we have been called to do.  Build a Better Industry and Be the Ambassadors of our Oceans.

Please keep this editorial in mind when you see The Dive Industry Association asking you to become a Member or the Dive Industry Foundation asking for your donations or our DIVE LOCAL campaign volunteer asking for your input.  Remember – You CAN and SHOULD make a difference.

Happy Holidays.


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Editorial – November 2019

Give Us Your Millions $$$ –
by Gene Muchanski
Editor, The Dive Industry Professional 

You would think the November Editorial would be about the DEMA Show?  Well, it kind of is and kind of isn’t.  Every year around this time, like clock work, we go to the Dema Show to take part in a Trade Expo to promote our products, a Professional Development Conference to attend seminars and work shops, and a social event to network with our peers in the industry.  As a trade event, it is expensive, time consuming and worth it.  But this month’s editorial is also about something else that happens in November – Elections.  Not for the DEMA or NAUI Board of Directors, I mean the political elections where the candidates running for office are raising millions and billions of dollars to pay for their campaigns.  So how do we connect dive shows and donations to political campaigns?  Glad you asked.

Dive Shows, Adventure Travel Shows, Boat Shows and Outdoor Shows all work to sell products and to educate and entertain a targeted group of recreational buyers.  They are fun, educational, and entertaining for the attendees.  For the exhibitors, they are time consuming, labor intensive and costly.  Still, if we are educating and entertaining our audience and growing our business at the same time, then we are doing our job and need to do more of it.

So, it’s November and the diving industry is all packed up for the DEMA Show next week.  The pre-show marketing campaigns have been circling the industry, in a small way, and now we are ready to launch our at-show part of the campaign.  Our at-show pitch is always about who we are, what we do, what we sell, and why you should do business with us.  If you are doing it correctly, it can be a real eye-opener for you.

As an example:  The Diving Industry Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, tax exempt, educational and charitable organization that researches, analyzes, educates, and promotes policies and procedures that bring buyers and sellers together while constructively establishing sustainable ways to protect the marine environment and its inhabitants.  We start off by conducting primary research into the details of our recreation as it pertains to its size, composition and economical potential.  We study the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to our business community and environment.  We educate our dive businesses and dive industry professionals about business programs and technologies that make us all more professional, productive and profitable.  We analyze industry trends and establish best practice guidelines.  We promote our recreation and its Key People to the general public that is outside of our inner circle, so that we can spread the word about our cause, achieve our desired outcomes, and preserve and protect our community and environment.  Now that is a tall order.   And it’s time consuming, labor intensive and expensive.  BUT it identifies obstacles, works on solutions, solves problems, and makes things better for everyone.  Now, can you see the connection?

Back to trade and consumer shows.  There are a ton of them.  Our Shows & Events calendar on our website  lists the dive and surf shows.  Although this is good, it’s kind of like preaching to the choir.  If we added all the travel shows, outdoors shows and boating shows, it would number in the hundreds.  That would really get our message out.  That also means we can’t afford to be at all the shows ourselves, but with some additional time, money and manpower, we could be at a lot more than we are now.

Political candidates in the United States are raising a record amount of cash to run for office.  Regardless of your political party or candidate preferences, there are Billions of dollars being raised by all the campaigns.  People donate money to a candidate who they think will support laws that will improve the environment and their way of life if and when the candidate gets elected.  But campaigning is time consuming, labor intensive and expensive.  Billions of dollars are spent on air travel, fancy RV’s, marketing & advertising and TV ads.  And not all candidates who run for office are elected.  So how much of the billions of dollars raised are being spent on clean air, clean water, healthy coral reefs and sustainable fish populations during the election process?

Nonprofits raise money to further their mission, not to benefit the donors or founders. There are more than two dozen types of tax-exempt non-profits.  A 501(c)(6) is a professional organization that is allowed to lobby the government.  Donations and contributions made to 501(c)(6)’s are not tax deductible.  501(c)(3)’s are non-profit, tax-exempt, charitable organizations that do not lobby the government.  Donations made to these charitable organizations are tax-deductible to the donor and and are used to further its mission.

We have a easy solution and recommendation.  Give the Dive Industry Foundation your billions of dollars.  OK, we’ll settle for millions.  We will put it to immediate use that will help improve the diving community, the marine environment and marine life. We will continue our good work for the community that includes:

  • Conducting Primary Research
  • Analyzing Industry Trends
  • Establishing Best Practices
  • Exhibiting at Shows & Events
  • Conducting Educational Programs
  • Business, Recreation and Environmental Consultation
  • Promoting our Recreation
  • Media Coverage of the Industry’s Progress
  • Growing our Industry

The Dive Industry Foundation will be exhibiting at the DEMA Show on November 13-16, 2019.  You can bring your generous donation to Booth 447.

For more information contact:
Gene Muchanski, Executive Director
Dive Industry Foundation
phone (mobile): 832-247-5315
email: gene@diveindustry.org
Web 1: www.diveindustry.net
Web 2: www.diveindustry.org
Web 3: www.divelocal.org


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Editorial – October 2019

Does The Industry Really Need To Come Together? –
by Gene Muchanski
Editor, The Dive Industry Professional 

The month of October is when the industry gets ready for the annual DEMA Show.  The retail season is coming to a close and it’s time to regroup for next year before the Holidays are here.  So are we closing out the old year and getting ready for a new one or are we just taking a break from this year and gearing up for the Holidays ?  Are we going to see any new dive gear, training programs and travel destinations at the show or will it be the same old stuff in a different package?  How about the exhibitors and attendees?  Will they be the same as last year, two years ago (for the every-other year attendees) or a whole new group of people?

If the diving industry wasn’t as fragmented as it is, with an unlimited array of information sources, we might have the answers to all of these questions.  So why doesn’t the industry come together and create a central information source that all Industry Professionals can go to for their information?  The answer is simple – There’s no money in it.   Think about it.  Most companies we know only focus on stuff they can sell.  And they usually focus on selling to their limited, current customer base.  They don’t invest in market research because, to them, there is no immediate return on investment.  Because of limited budgets, caused by declining sales, from a declining market, these companies do their own sales campaigns from a declining list of current customers.  Dive Industry Association has a solution to their problem.

For the past 20 years, Dive Industry Association and its non-profit organization, Dive Industry Foundation, have been analyzing the recreational diving and adventure travel market.  Through our Members, Sponsors and Donors, we have compiled an industry database of buyers and sellers in our market.  Compiling and maintaining an active database is a daily, long term project.  It needs continual funding and/or support.  Up until now, only companies that sell a sufficient number of products to a sufficient number of customers have been able to compile an extensive contact list that includes their current customers.  Because of poor marketing follow-up, these same positive cash-flow companies have dropped the ball on their Former Customer contacts.  Because of the high cost of finding new customers, most all of these companies don’t invest in customer acquisition research that would help them identify Future Customers.

To begin with, the diving industry has a finite number of participants.  Collectively, we should be able to identify all buyers and sellers of diving equipment, training and travel.  We have been very successful in identifying the sellers and wholesale buyers in the market.  Through constant maintenance of our trade database, we have a pretty good idea as to the size of the supply side of the market.  Reaching the demand side of the market is more complicated, because people are so mobile these days and very few, if any sellers are sharing their customer database with anyone.  So, unfortunately, we have to go around them and collect that information directly.  That costs money, lots of it.  But all is not lost if we split the cost with over 9,000 Industry Professionals in the trade.  That’s where the Dive Industry Association comes in.

The main focus of a Trade Association should be bringing Buyers and Sellers together and growing the market.  Our first step is to identify the market.  The second step is to identify the programs, products and services that are sold in the market.  The third step is to create a message, or call to action, that can be communicated with the demand side of the market.  The fourth step is to deliver that message using a variety of marketing vehicles to stimulate sales and growth.  Lastly, we need to analyze the process and the results so we can learn from it, do it again, and then grow.

Dive Industry Association has a plan to bring Buyers & Sellers together.  The plan is multi-focused and is scale-able.  Our strategy is to focus on the sale of diving equipment, training and adventure travel products. Our focal point is our Members.  Our message to the general public is learn to dive, buy your gear, go diving and stay active.  Our primary beneficiary is of course, our Members.  They are the ones who are shouldering some of the cost with us.  If you want fire, you have to throw some wood in.  Does the industry need to come together to accomplish this?  Not any more.  Only the ones who want more business.

Our recent realizations that we have been blogging about on our website for the last year have convinced us that we may never get 100% cooperation from 100% of the Diving Industry Professionals.  We can only work with like-minded individuals who see the economic potential of participating in a much larger industry network that works together to facilitate increased sales and industry growth.  As our network grows, so does our sales and marketing reach and frequency.  More Members, Bigger Budget, Better Results.

There are a number of ways we can accomplish our planned outcomes.  We have to increase our Membership of Dive Industry Professionals in order to increase our sales and marketing budget.  We then have to ask for cash donations to fund our promotional campaigns.  We then will be able to create our own marketing vehicles that reach our targeted customer bases.  Our Trade Association needs to be Member Focused and Member Funded.  With a little “skin in the game” every dive industry professional should be able to increase exposure, increase sales and gain market share.

For more information contact:

Gene Muchanski, Executive Director
Dive Industry Association, Inc.
Phone: 321-914-3778
eMail: gene@diveindustry.net
Web: www.DiveIndustry.net 



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Stream2Sea is Leading Green

Stream2Sea Isn’t Going Green…
…We’re Leading Green
Stream2Sea is one of the leaders in the green movement in manufacturing by not only using non-toxic ingredients that have been tested and proven safe for freshwater fish, saltwater fish, C. elegans, and coral larvae we also package our products in tubes made from sugarcane resin and bottles made from recycled milk jugs.  Even our packing material is recycled and recyclable cardboard, craft paper, and our baggies (used only when absolutely necessary) are made with biodegradable and recyclable PLA film.
We routinely attend and participate at local beach and underwater cleanups and when we can’t be there in person, we are there in spirit providing our safe sunscreen for all participants!
Stream2Sea also collaborates with many non-profit groups that are working to better the planet through the green movement.  We support these groups through monetary donations, in-kind donations, and work tirelessly to spread their missions and visions for a greener, healthier world!  Our featured non-profit group this month is even named Island Green Living!
Leslie Taylor
Account Executive
eMail: leslie@stream2sea.com
Phone: (863) 473-4223 ext. 211 | Toll Free: (866) 960-9513  | Direct:  (239) 571-9810
Stream2Sea | PO Box 907 | Wauchula, FL 33873 | USA
From Stream2Sea – Protect what you love

Check out our new Brand Video

and our Brand Brochure


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Ignorance & Arrogance – An Industry’s Achilles Heel

Ignorance and Arrogance – An Industry’s Achilles Heel
by Gene Muchanski
Editor, The Dive Industry Professional 

This is the most difficult article I have ever written.  Being in the diving industry for close to fifty years, I have met tens of thousands of dive industry professionals who have built our industry into what it is today.  Some were pioneers and some followed in their foot steps.  Many were self-employed Entrepreneurs while the majority were company employees.  Some of us made diving our life’s work while others participated in it on a part time basis.  Like my Mother used to say, some of us gave our heart and soul to the industry while others went out and got a “real job.”  Regardless as to how the industry controlled your life, what we all had in common was our love of the water and an adventurous spirit that compelled us to explore the wonders of the sea. For many of us, it all started out as a recreational and turned into a lifetime career choice.  But either way, we are all independent, adventurous, fearless and in love with a watermans lifestyle.

The subject of ignorance and arrogance in the diving industry has come up for discussion many times in the past but somehow always in a negative manner.  As a confirmed believer in Dale Carnegie Training, I couldn’t write this article until I could present it in a manner that did not criticize, condemn or complain.  I did not want to give the impression that all Dive Industry Professionals are ignorant and arrogant or that everyone but me in the industry were guilty of it.  I had to wait all these years until I could confirm that ignorance and arrogance is a toxic combination that could and has stifled growth in the diving industry and ended many a career in the process.  

This article may not make any sense to you unless I first describe my cumulative interest, education and experience in the Diving Industry.  In the past fifty years, I have called the diving industry my hobby, recreation, vocation, avocation, collateral duty, career and lifestyle.  I’ve worked in and out of the industry but my interests always revolved around business, diving, and the business of diving.   I’ve be fortunate enough to have worked in military operations, manufacturing, sales, education, training, marketing, consulting, travel, media and finance.  I have been a business owner, an independent consultant and an employee.  I received a well-rounded work experience by working for Military Diving Units, Dive Equipment Manufacturers, Certification Agencies, Travel Companies, Retail Dive Centers, University Scuba Programs, Trade Associations, Non-Profit Organizations and Media Companies.   I’ve owned my own Retail Dive Center, Wetsuit Manufacturing Company, Trade Association and Non-Profit Organization.

Ignorance is defined as the state of being ignorant because of a lack of knowledge, education or awareness.  Like many of my friends in the diving community, I consider myself a lifelong student and teacher of everything to do with diving and the business of diving.  When it comes to diving or business, we are all born ignorant.  We have to learn everything from our environment, education and experience.   We are not born with a super instinct that makes us a great diver or business person.  We have to learn as much as we can and experience as much as we can.  We have to be willing to participate in trial and error.  We have to expect success and failure.  That goes for diving and for business.

In our diving community, we see individuals who always seem to grow in their knowledge and experience in diving.  They continually learn new techniques, experiment with new equipment and dive in new locations.  They are the ones who learn, write, speak, teach and grow.  As they learn new things, they come to a realization that the more they know, they more they realize they don’t know.  These Industry Professionals have a good grasp on their Knowledge / Ignorance Balance.  Contrast that with the person who only knows enough about diving to be dangerous.  They know very little, but surprisingly they think they know everything.  They are a danger not only to themselves but to their diving buddies as well.  Case in point:  Ignorance is a natural part of life and growing up, as long as you realize that in certain areas we are all ignorant.

If you want to be a good Diver, you have to keep learning and experiencing.  If you decide to become a Diving Instructor, please realize that teaching diving is different than being a Diver.  Yes, you still have to continue learning to be a better Diver, but now you must also learn how to become a good Educator and continue growing as a professional diving instructor.  If you decide to open a dive store, realize that being a professional retailer is different than being a good Diver or a good Diving Instructor.  Now you have a third thing to learn, practice and grow at.  Like all other things in your life, you’ll start out ignorant at first and then have a need and an opportunity to learn, experience and grow.

Dive Industry Professionals and the diving industry itself would be much better off if Divers would only pick a few things to master in the community.  There are so many opportunities to excel at diving, instructing, retailing, photography, manufacturing, marketing, training, travel, environmental volunteering, and so on.

Arrogance is defined as an attitude of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner.  Unlike ignorance, we are not born arrogant.  Arrogance is a learned behavior or attitude.  It could manifest itself from a physical, psychological or social imbalance.  A normal balance of human hormones, healthy physical assets and well developed physiological abilities may be present in many of our industry Leaders, but the ones I worry about are the Industry Professionals who don’t understand the industry, the products, customers, or markets, and  don’t have a clue how to run a successful, profitable business but think they do.  And the worst thing for all of us is that they have been able to convince the owners and investors of their companies that they are the ones who can run their businesses best.

Poor Leaders and unsuccessful companies are easy to identify in the diving industry.  The first dead give away is a company that believes in the theory of “status congruence.”  That means if you have high status in one field of endeavor, you naturally have high status in all fields.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  If you make a fortune in one industry, it does not mean you will also succeed in the diving industry.  For every industry or market you compete in, you have to understand the products, the customers and the market.  Knowing the industry’s history and significant industry professionals also helps to give you a competitive edge.  Having a ton of money to invest in a diving company when you don’t understand the products, the people or the market is a fool’s idea of success.

Another problem that has faced the business community forever , not just the diving community, is the placing of people in positions they are not qualified to work in.  The first thing that comes to mind is how companies destroy their sales potential by taking their best salesperson and making them a Sales Manager or company Executive.  Sales people do their best for the company when they are selling.  Sales Mangers don’t have to be great salespeople, they have to be great managers.  Company Executives have to know how to manage the company resources of time, money and manpower effectively.  It is said that managers do things right and executives do the right things.

There are a lot of companies in our community that don’t believe in Marketing.  It’s not only that many don’t invest in marketing like they should, some actually don’t believe in spending anything on marketing.  That’s both ignorant and arrogant.  The deadly combination.  Marketing paves the way for sales.  Marketing Managers do their best when they make the Sales Person’s job easier to sell.  Sales people do their best when they are selling.  Sales Managers do their best when they manage their sales force.  If you don’t have Marketing people, then the Sales people have to do the marketing, which they are not qualified to do or are not interested in doing because marketing doesn’t pay commissions.  And if sales people are marketing, they are not selling.  Period.

Another problem for many companies in our diving community is the aspect of International Sales.   International Sales are very important but only if it can be scaleable, seamless and profitable.  All markets are different.  What works in one country, may not work in all countries.  There are a number of dive equipment manufacturers competing in the U.S. Market that are headquartered outside of the United States.   There are a number of challenges to this business model, considering where the senior executives work, where the inventory is warehoused, who manages the Sales Force and from where.  Some of the companies manage this better then others.  The key here is to realize that understanding the market you are competing in is the most important factor to your potential success.  Regardless of what you think about your company, your product or your senior executives, if your potential customers don’t know or trust your products, don’t relate to their local sales reps and don’t identify with your company culture (image), you don’t have a chance to be successful in that market.  To think you do is both ignorant and arrogant.

How can you tell if you’re guilty of being ignorant and arrogant?  Since knowledge is power, ask yourself who controls the company?  The Boots-on-the-Ground or the Suits?  Who understands the products, the customers and the market?  Who knows the facts on your number of Dealers, the number and competitive nature of your sku’s, your sales in units, sales in dollars, profit per units sold, your market penetration, your percentage of market share and your positive percentage of sales growth?  How familiar are your local people with the market’s demographics, geographics, psycho-graphics and genagraphics?

How about the arrogance aspect?  That’s easy.  Do a company analysis.  Take out your current Business Plan and Marketing Plan.  Did you create a baseline when you started?  Have you detailed what your projected outcomes are and how you were going to achieve them?  Is your company achieving its goals and objectives?  Have you grown your product offering, dealer base, customer base and sales in both units and dollars?  By what percentage?  What is your percentage of growth?  What is the percentage of your cost of growth?  Overall, how has your company prospered under your watch?  If you know all that, you’re not arrogant, you’re a Professional.

Summary:  Ignorance and arrogance in an industry is a deadly combination.  It affects our entire business community and can happen to any company.  It creeps into our corporate culture and festers over time if gone unchecked.  It’s difficult to spot but easy to fix.  Einstein said that you can’t correct a problem with the same thought process you used to get into the problem.  It requires a different set of eyes to see and a different thought process to correct.  That’s why paradigm shifts are so effective.  Another thing that is effective is having a strong moral compass that motivates business owners to do the right things, for the right reasons, for the right people.  There is nothing more satisfying than a company that takes a positive active role in its community, locally, nationally and worldwide.

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