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Real-world marketing methods for marine fabricators

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“We’ve found great success in the way we process our estimates. There is a photo of the boat on the estimate, an itemized description and photos of each project related to the estimate. It’s helped us to be able to raise our prices—not lower them—through these times.”
~ Justin Jones, Custom Covers, Salt Lake City, Utah

“Push advertising; don’t pull. Don’t wait for people to stumble over your website—send emails.”
~ Katie Bradford, MFC, IFM, Custom Marine Canvas, Noank, Conn.

“It’s important to plan ahead and try to anticipate slow periods. This gives you time to set up and produce marketing materials before the slow period actually happens. In the fall we sent out a reminder email and postcards with a list of services, and offered a winter discount to encourage customers to contact us before the spring busy season. This may require that you start preparing marketing materials during your busiest period.”
~ Jay Hanks, Allerton Harbor Canvas in Hull, Mass.

“Change. Offer new products and promotions. We are always looking for the next new product.”
~ Steve Griffith, Marine Tops Unlimited, Madison, Wis.

“Contact federal, state and local agencies that have need for watercraft or other covers. Homeland Security, police and fire departments need all kinds of new covers and repairs to protect their equipment. Get on their list of preferred vendors, find out what they like and need, get a sponsor, deliver a great product, and there will be repeat business.”
~ Jeff Viehmeyer, Alameda Canvas & Coverings, Alameda, Calif.

“Develop a social media presence, such as a Facebook page, and join a trade association, such as the Marine Fabricators Association. Resolve to make the most of these by being an active participant online and at trade shows and conferences.”
~ Beth Hungiville, Marine Fabricators Association

Kelly Frush is a Minnesota-based writer and editor.

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