The dust has settled from the Dealer Week 2022 convention in Austin Texas, and I know I can speak for the Octane team in saying that it was a great show! From the education sessions to the networking, to the parties and more, this was a top-notch event all around. We saw many of our current partners and met lots of new dealers at the action-packed week in Texas. I wanted to share some key takeaways from the event for those of you who couldn’t make it, and provide some insights into how you can best prepare for the road ahead in 2023. 

1. Demand has softened compared to 2020 - 2022, but it’s not a doomsday scenario.

  • Boat shows in 2023 so far have produced encouraging sales numbers.
  • Plan for and benchmark against your 2018/2019 data for realistic comparisons in 2023.
  • Leverage OEM incentives to drive demand in your local market.
  • Competition for buyers is only going to heat up in 2023, so make every lead count! Make sure your lead follow up is quick, be persistent but helpful, and don’t miss any opportunities.

2. To win in 2023, dealers will need to get back to the basics. 

  • After nearly 3 years of record-breaking demand resulting in customers lining up for the same boat with a deposit in hand, the fundamentals of sales have fallen by the wayside. Get back to basics and ensure your sales team is prepared to sell like they did pre-pandemic. 
  • Get your digital house in order so you can put your best foot forward in 2023. Spend some time getting your website, Google Business Profiles, Google Analytics, and Social Profiles up to snuff. Your digital presence is often the first interaction a prospective customer has with your dealership, make that first impression count!
  • If you stopped proactively marketing and advertising during the pandemic, don’t delay getting back on the horse. Your spring/summer sales will thank you. 

3. Consumer data privacy will continue to be at the forefront of the headlines in 2023 and beyond. Get a plan in place now so you are prepared for the coming changes. 

  • Google Chrome will phase out 3rd party cookies by the end of 2024. Google Analytics 4 (GA4) will become the default analytics platform in July 2023. 
  • If you haven’t already, get a GA4 account running and setup to track key metrics like LDPs, leads, chat/text, phone calls, etc. 
  • 1st party data will be more relevant than ever in 2023/2024 with traditional targeting tactics via 3rd party cookies going away. 
  • Take a hard look at your CRM process and ensure that everyone is singing off the same song sheet. 1st party data will only be as useful as the data is clean. Bad data in, bad data out. 

Despite rising interest rates, rampant inflation, and fear of a widespread recession, recreational boating is still showing strong momentum as we push forward into 2023. There is no doubt that selling boats in 2023 will be harder than in 2020-2022, but if I know anything, it’s that dealers are not afraid of a little hard work. If you’d like to talk about your marketing plans for 2023, or just have general questions, please reach out. We would love to help you win in any way we can!