MRAA Dealer Week 2023 has come and gone once again. After an outstanding week in Tampa, FL, we returned home with more excitement surrounding the marine industry than ever. Dealer Week provides a fantastic opportunity to engage with dealers, industry allies, and our long standing partners; this year was certainly no different. With a record attendance of over 1,500 at this year’s show more people than ever had a chance to experience and engage with enriching educational pathways, always entertaining industry gatherings, and talks with vendors and agencies, like Octane Marketing, that can help dealers accomplish their 2024 goals. This may have been the best Dealer Week we have been at, it certainly was the most memorable Dealer Week for Octane Marketing!

MRAA, as they always do, did an outstanding job curating top-notch speakers at Dealer Week 2023. From Sales & Marketing, to Leadership, to Service & Parts, dealers had access to and opportunities to learn from some of the brightest minds in the space. No doubt many dealers are now better equipped to succeed and grow their operations moving into the headwinds expected in 2024.

In the Sales & Marketing pathway, there was a discernible shift back to fundamentals, emphasizing the sale of value and prioritizing customer experience. Given the scarcity of inventory in recent years, some dealerships have lost focus on the most important part of selling, taking care of the customers. With so many dealers selling all their  inventory the moment it hits the ground and often before that, this "new norm" carried throughout 2023 as inventory levels normalized. Now that customers have multiple boats to choose from that are all available immediately we are seeing the effects of this loss of focus on the customer during the sale.

Now is the time for a renewed focus on personalized selling and leveraging advanced digital marketing techniques to generate leads in this newly challenging market. While digital marketing fills the funnel, it's important to recognize that customers are more likely to remember the feeling they had leaving your dealership than the ads that prompted their action. Marketing starts when a prospective customer first hears about your dealership and should be interwoven with the showroom experience, purchase process, and post-sale white glove service. We encourage dealers to make the exceptional experience their customers have a strong and consistent message in their marketing efforts. Yes, manufacturer and dealer level incentives both help move the needle and sell more units when the economic climate worsens but beware of a race to the bottom on price. Tell the market how exceptional of an experience it is buying or servicing with your dealership, the intangibles are as important than ever with inventory levels rising.

Exceptional dealership experiences form the foundation for lifelong customer relationships and repeat referrals.

If we missed the chance to connect at the show, we would love the opportunity to talk with you and discuss your Digital Marketing plans for 2024. Wishing you and yours a happy holiday season!