By: Brian Chandler, APR

It’s a fact… 2021 is now in our wake, but there’s still time for members of the Marine Marketers of America to compare their marketing plans for the new year and adjust the trim tabs, so to speak. With that in mind, here are the top four marketing trends we should all be watching this year.

  1. User Generated Content (UGC)

One of the hottest marketing trends anticipated this year will be the utilization of User Generated Content. Let’s face it, when it comes to boating, people love to share their selfies, images, videos, outdoor photos, and more. When brands are able to utilize this content for their own marketing purposes, they pull in a personal reality that is sometimes hard to duplicate by our corporate marketing teams. More importantly though, UGC will allow these companies to grow their brand loyalty by creating partnerships with those who have shared successful personal experiences with their products or services.

To offer some examples, I’ve been a long-time fan of Key West Boats and an owner of one as well. The photos on the Key West Boat Owners Facebook Group page are often better than staged photography. More importantly they bring personalization to the Key West brand.

Not sure how to capture UGC? It’s fairly common today for brands to reach out to personal profiles and others on almost any social media channel and say how much they loved their photo or video and ask if they can share it from their brand’s page, with attribution. Another good example of this is the new on-the-water social networking app called aflote. The company uses this technique to perfection on its Instagram channel.

  1. Video, video and more video

According to the popular online video editing site invideo, in 2022, an average person is predicted to spend more than 1.5 hours per day watching online videos. In addition, online videos will make up more than 82% of all consumer internet traffic.

So, what do we do with this information? Even in today’s video heavy world, some brands are afraid to break the norm and create unconventional videos. Brands should start to consider that they don’t have to create super polished videos that cost six figures to influence their audience. While there is a time and place for these corporate videos, considering what people want to see and the basic aspect of it will help brands exceed expectations without breaking the bank.

The social media site TikTok has exceeded 1 billion users and are headed to exceed the number of Instagram users, who captivate their audience with short videos shot on a mobile device, it’s time to consider how we keep it simple in our video marketing.

  1. Omnichannel Marketing

I like to define Omnichannel marketing as the consideration of what social media, online and other platforms your audience wants to use, not the ones you want them to use. Many brands are making the mistake of focusing their efforts on Facebook or Instagram, when in reality their audiences are using a totally different platforms and they are missing the opportunity to communicate with them and persuade them to act.

Consideration of omnichannel marketing strategies has shown that many brands are missing the mobile-first approach. Consumers are more often accessing your brand’s content via their mobile devices such as tablets or smartphones. In fact, it has become more acceptable for brands to communicate with consumers via text messaging and a “customer journey” strategy that leads them to the content they most want to see. SMS or text messaging, in some cases, has become a more acceptable tool for marketing than email communications.

  1. Social Listening

While Ethnography is a .50 cent term for “social listening,” it’s something that shouldn’t be intimidating and should be leveraged as part of every company’s marketing program – beyond just quick-look dashboards on how a term is doing on Twitter. Many large national brands in various industries, including the marine industry, are starting to utilize digital ethnography to drive not only their marketing strategies, but overall company initiatives that drive sales and operations.

The Hull Truth is by far one of the best discussion boards for the marine industry, but Facebook Group pages, and good old fashioned discussion websites, for various manufactures and OEM products also work well.

Dean Browell, Ph.D., Chief Behavioral Officer, Feedback

Chief Behavioral Officer for the social listening firm Feedback Dean Browell, Ph.D. says that Ethnography is trending to become one of the most effective research tools for brands in 2022.

“While social listening has been a marketing discipline for a little more than a decade, we are seeing more and more brands utilize all the multiple online environments to really discover what people are saying about them and use that to build personalization,” Browell said. “When brands do this right, they discover things they want to hear, but also don’t want to hear. It’s the difference between just listening and actually hearing. That’s where they can use the information to become better at not only what they do, but how they market and communicate.”

A basic search for “Yamaha Engine” on The Hull Truth turned up a discussion thread called Yamaha or Mercury. The thread includes great insight into how dealers are talking about either engine, the pros and cons, as well as personal experiences from boaters. There are comments on which manufacture provides the best local dealer service, prop size and weight perspectives of the engines. Either manufacture could use this insight to draft content for blogs, newsletters and especially social media posts that address some of these topics. Also, these brands could use what people are saying about their engines to provide custom dealer communications support and content.

If we learned anything from the pandemic, it’s that personalization of brands is what the consumer wants. These four trends speak to that and it’s not too late to incorporate any of these trends into your 2022 marketing strategies or programs. If you need help, feel free to reach out to me for some insight.

Brian Chandler, APR is founder and CEO of Commonwealth Public Relations & Marketing, Inc. and a member of the Marine Marketers of America. He began his firm’s work in the marine industry a decade ago based on his love for boating and fishing and has worked with companies such as Sea Tow Services International, the Sea Tow Foundation, the Personal Watercraft Industry Association (PWIA an affiliate of the National Marine Manufacturers Association, NMMA) aflote, Shakespeare Marine, Barker Boatworks, and more. He can be reached at brian@commonwealth-pr.com.