The Future of Boat Sales in 2019

December 13, 2018

5 Trends Changing the Yachting Marketplace

The boating industry has gone through the BIGGEST transformation in the last 15 years. Due to the exponential growth and dominance of the Internet, mobile devices, social media, new technologies, combined with rising customer expectations and changing buying behavior, the rules of sales and marketing have drastically changed across all markets — and boat brokers must adapt or get left behind.

2019 will be a game changing year and here are my top 5 trends and market predictions.

Trend #1: Traditional Boat Sales is Dead

Before the explosion of mobile devices, social media and a multitude of media channels, it was much easier to market and sell boats. Typically, you pretty much needed to list your client’s boat on the leading multiple listing site, place an ad in a boating magazine, and send a newsletter to your database. In today’s new marketing ecosystem, the traditional way of promoting listings by brokers and brokerages is becoming completely ineffective and obsolete. And, going forward, the successful marine salesperson will have to become a hybrid broker that is using multiple media and communication channels.

Facebook, Google, Instagram, and Youtube are the new Yachtworld. Now, although people are not on social media to buy a boat, people who are buying boats are on social media!

And therefore, typical brand advertising and marketing to everyone is now too expensive and becoming less and less effective. Segmentation, retargeting and social media conversations are the new way of reaching buyers.

Bottom line: you need to know how to reach your potential clients on their prefered media channels, while also being present on their social news feeds because their email and/or phone numbers are just not enough today. 

Also, you’ll need to leverage Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and other communication channels your prospects are using. Brokerage and brokers who invest the time and money into developing social conversations, relevant content and app messaging communications will create the most POWERFUL connections with their audience. And such connections can be used to influence prospects into becoming clients.

Trend #2: Emotions Sell & Referrals Are Key

In 2019, customers “BS detectors” will keep improving. So, personalisation and intimacy will be a game changer and bring a high ROI.

It’s a well-known, scientific fact that people buy based on emotions, and then justify their decision with logic. Having said that, the majority of the listings on the market do not take advantage of this basic law of human nature. Instead, they mainly address the logical aspect of the sale by focusing on the technical characteristics of boats and yachts for sale.

Because buyers behaviors are changing and customers expect more, there’s a great opportunity to make your listings stand out by making them more customer-oriented and emotionally engaging for buyers. To do this, your listing must use a combination of:

✔️ Emotionally compelling photography, videography, aerial (drone) footage

✔️ Emotionally compelling customer-oriented copywriting

✔️ Engaging and interactive content such as a virtual tour, walk through video, etc

At the end of the day, emotions — not facts — sell. So focus on creating customer-oriented content, NOT product-oriented content. Or, as I like to say: Sell the cruise, not the ship. Customer oriented and emotionally compelling content will bring trust, and trust will become the new currency in 2019.

Additionally, referrals will never be more relevant in 2019. “Social Selling” does not work anymore. People are tired of being exposed and pitched to thousands of commercial offers every day (whether on social media, email or any other platform). Consumers don’t go to social platforms to buy. They go there to be entertained, informed and to see what their friends or acquaintances like and dislike.

Consumers are paying far more attention to online reviews. Facebook reviews, Yelp, Amazon and Google reviews are more public and easily shared across social channels.

In 2019 the winners will be the one leveraging “Social Referrals.”

Consumers are paying more attention to what their friends like, don’t like and recommend. Social proof such as likes, reviews, testimonials and shares will attract businesses and drive sales.

In 2019, the successful broker will be the one who ADAPTS (by listening and participating in the social conversations) and also the one who ASKS for referrals from clients (an MIT University study reported that 91% of clients would give referrals, but only 11% of sales people actually ask for them).

Trend #3: Information Sells

When it comes to listing boats and yachts, most brokers and brokerages show a minimum amount of information online. They might think that a few photos and specs are enough to influence a buyer to make a major purchasing decision. But, the buyers of 2019 will no longer tolerate those “methods of the past” and instead, they expect a comprehensive listing that provides a large amount of information (that’s both emotional and rational).

With so many choices available to them, you’ll simply lose your chances of selling and they’ll go somewhere else. On the other hand, by providing more info than your competitors, you’ll increase your chances of selling while eliminating time wasted with unqualified prospects and requests. In short, the more your listing tells, the more it will sell.

Additionally, 2019 will be one of the last years of the “static web.” More and more interactive content like Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, AI and Relevant advertising will be used and required to connect with buyers properly. The brokers who provide this type of content will have a substantial edge over other brokers.

However, information alone will not make the difference, because it will need to be combined with direct response strategies to capture contact information and establish a conversation. This effective strategy will allow the qualification and segmentation necessary to reach and influence prospective buyers.

Beyond this, it will be more difficult to “hard sell”or mislead customers because they are gaining more control and voice through the interactive social channels.

Trend #4: It Takes a Team

The effort, energy, and number of skills required to successfully sell a boat or yacht while meeting sellers’ expectations can no longer be sufficiently satisfied by an individual “lone wolf” broker. The market has progressed and buyers are more educated, demanding, and have higher expectations.

And this is why there’s a shift towards brokers working in teams, and why the most highly respected brokerages in the world are run by teams in order to effectively market and sell yachts.

Here are a few examples of the necessary things to market a boat properly in 2019: Drone piloting; Video & photo taking and editing; Virtual tours capturing and editing; Organic & Paid Social media marketing; Email marketing; Copywriting; SEO advertising; Adwords & Facebook Advertising; Automation; Lead Management & Follow Up; Blogging; Multichannel Prospecting; AI; Content Creation; Multiple Listing Sites; And much more

So, for 2019, the successful broker will need to outsource, collaborate and use a team of savvy online marketers because it’s impossible to master all these skills on their own.

Trend #5: Authority & Personal Online Presence Are Critical

Self-promotion is no longer optional in 2019 and beyond. Therefore, brokers must become comfortable using social media, blogs, and other technology to promote their services and presence.

Content and social conversations are king, and brokers who can create and manage a social following (fan page, personal page, blog or video blog) will have a significant advantage moving forward. Having such a personal social following will be useful for brokers to control their online presence, generate leads, or in case they decide to switch firms or start a business on their own.

Additionally, taking advantage of Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and other social messaging apps will no longer be optional in 2019.

Therefore, the making and publishing of videos will become part of a broker’s weekly sales and marketing activity. These videos must be made for various platforms and formats:

✔️Professional looking drone or walk through videos

✔️Facebook live showing a boat or sharing market observations

✔️Youtube videos entertaining or responding to market demands

Whether or not you like being in front of the camera, you need to do it for your clients. As I like to say, if you’re not scared and uncomfortable improving your boat sales, you’re doing something wrong.

Brokers Will Be More Relevant Than Ever

The good news for 2019 is that professional brokers will be more relevant than ever before because consumers will face many difficulties buying and selling on their own. Mainly due to the constantly changing and expanding marketplace and abundance of choices (thousands of shipyards & models).

The bad news for 2019 (for the majority of boat sales pros) is that the gap between top performing brokers and the rest of the brokers will widen exponentially. And a large number of brokers who fail to adapt to these new trends will simply fade away.
Just like Uber and taxis, Netflix and Blockbusters, or Amazon and Sears, the boat selling business will rapidly transform and and there will be no mercy for those who fail to adapt to the changing market.

How to Avoid The Coming “Mass Extinction” & Rise to The Top 7%

Mark my words: Brokers who don’t take action and follow these trends will be on “life support” 3 years from now.

But unfortunately, many refuse to see it like an ostrich with its head in the sand.

For this reason, I recently announced that I’ve stopped selling online courses to the masses. And instead, I want to focus on helping the marine sales professional who wants to rise to the top.

And adapting to these 5 trends offers a solution out of the upcoming technology and marketing tsunami.

Ready to Take Your Brokerage Business to The Next Level?

If you realize that the old way isn’t working anymore and you want to be in the top 7%… I’d like to help you implement the same marketing systems I’ve used to successfully sell boats for myself and my clients.

So, if you’re a broker or brokerage owner who is driven, dedicated, and willing to invest in your business to take it to the next level, then I’d like to work with you.

➡️ If you feel this is for you, shoot me an email, schedule a call, or WhatsApp me.

To your success!

— Vincent Finetti
Founder & Instructor
Yacht Sales Academy

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