Marketing a new Sailing Dinghy Brand

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by chris.dymond, Jan 9, 2012.

  1. chris.dymond
    Joined: Oct 2008
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    Location: Australia

    chris.dymond 4.8 metre Sailing Dingy

    I need help or idears to market my boat, any input would be apreceated.
    I have spent the last 5 years designing, developing and testing my vision of the perfect sailing dinghy.
    Now I know everyone has there own vision of what that is, so lets not open that can of worms.
    What I am struggling with is breaking into the sailing clubs.
    I wanted to target the training side of sailing as my boat is perfect for that.

    I have two boats I am thinking of giving away to sailing clubs to test and promote my brand...any recomendations
  2. sawmaster
    Joined: May 2010
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    Location: tyler,tx

    sawmaster Senior Member

    re: marketing a new dinghy--Ive often wondered what would the the best way to market a new design.Yachting magazine used to sponsor something called a one of a kind regatta.If they still do ,that might be a way to introduce a new design,even if its not designed primarily as a racer.Maybe someone in the forum will if there are any one of a kind regattas being held anywhere--if it performs well,maybe that would generate some sales.
  3. Doug Lord
    Joined: May 2009
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    Location: Cocoa, Florida

    Doug Lord Flight Ready

    Chris, your boat is gorgeous and appears to be very well done! How about some sort of presentation that you could e-mail(?) where you compare your boat,directly- in every respect, with other boats currently being used for training. And then ,maybe, hit the road with a couple of boats to demonstrate with?
    Are you going to use dealers? That complicates things a bit because the dealer may want to do the demonstrating-and they will have to know a lot about the boat to do it well. I know, from experience, what a dealer who doesn't know the boat well can (not)do. The trick is to convince them that it makes business sense to know your boat inside and out.
    I think, these days, I would consider selling direct to clubs and sailing schools and making a very well prepared initial pitch and then do an outstanding demo in the flesh......
    But make sure that you can convince a buyer that your Company is up to backing up the product-that is,as I'm sure you know, super critical.
    Best of Luck! This is a tough time to do what you want to do....

    Attached Files:

  4. BPL
    Joined: Dec 2011
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    BPL Senior Member

    I'm not an expert at marketing, but I saw your boat in the gallery and like what I see. I wish you great success.
  5. chris.dymond
    Joined: Oct 2008
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    Location: Australia

    chris.dymond 4.8 metre Sailing Dingy

    Thankyou Doug,
    I like the direct to sailing school and club aproach. it is tough times and naturaly I have blown all my budget on the development.
    But I am ready to travel to the clubs and do demos
  6. Doug Lord
    Joined: May 2009
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    Location: Cocoa, Florida

    Doug Lord Flight Ready

    Chris, I'm sure you've heard this before but the #1 cause of a business failure-particularly a boat business-is undercapitilization.
    When you are the designer, when you have done all the development, you damn sure know how great the boat is but that doesn't necessarily convince a sailing school that your company can back up the product. That should be a major emphasis of your business development right now: put together a package that will convince people of your companies strength while telling the truth 100%. Call in all old favors, promises etc. and find a way to prove that you can manage this. Get as much business help that you can get and be willing to give a portion of the company in return. This is the kind of stuff that I always hated to hear because I knew my stuff was damn good and I was operating full tilt on enthusiasm. Sometimes that meant I was lacking in business "smarts" (I hated that part!) but you can get thru it with some help.
    I hope you can make it work!

    PS-talk to as many business owners building small boats in Australia as you can and ask them for suggestions-be prepared for discouraging responses-but keep it together and you may get the help you need....
  7. Petros
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    Petros Senior Member

    This is what I would try; offer sailing lessons at low prices at the clubs (post advertisements, send out flyers, go to club events with your boat, etc), start out by offering "free" half hour intro to sailing lessons, and demos. And after you have people enrolled in the lessons, and you successfully trained a new student you will offer them their own boat at a "discount" rate if they order within 30 days of the successfully completing your sailing course. Of course you can also offer the lessons for free for each order with down payment as well. If you are not a good instructor than you need to find one.

    I presume you have some sort of way to get these made, so you make them one at a time until you get a number of them sold. The deposits will pay for the raw material purchases, and final payment is due on delivery (you do not want to act as a bank, so do not accept payments after the fact). When you have 5 or more delivered you "sponsor" regattas with your one design, offer prizes like hats or Tee shirts, have press releases to the local papers, get people to come down and watch the events, and try your boat out at demo days. You eventually recruit the better sailors to give sailing lessons and offer a commission for every boat they manage to sell for you. This will free your time up to concentrate on production, and will multiply the number of people selling (and sailing) your boat.

    This will not cost much at all for you to do, the customer gets lessons in your new boat, and eventually you end up with some "free lance" sales reps that earn part time money giving lessons and selling your boat. This also allows you to start by only making a few at a time, and it should be self financed this way too, no need to investors or loans (keep it simple, overhead will kill your business).

    You can keep it a part time business until you have many orders coming in, and you should be able to keep the sales expanding for a long time this way. No need for dealers, just sailboat enthusiasts out there selling your new design to potential customers.

    That is what I would do. Keep it simple, requires no money and allows you to sail as much as you like.

    PS: I would not give any of your boats away, there is a strange psychology to selling, if you give it away no one will think it is worth anything. offer the free intro lesson (for this you must run local ads), than offer a low cost coarse on sailing. Pick a retail price that is fair and competitive, but you offer the "discount" price to the students. Than they think they are getting a much more valuable boat at a good price. That is a much better "hook" than giving it away.
  8. ancient kayaker
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    ancient kayaker aka Terry Haines

    I dunno Petros, that's a retail approach, these guys are manufacturers. The question we should all ask ourselves is, what sold us our boat . . . and I don't mean performance, or price, or fetures, but how did we get to know about it in the first place?

    Did we see it at a show or a distributer, hear about it from others, see it on the web, join a club which had a fleet of them or what? Seems to me that's the question that needs answering for a new manufacturing organization who needs to create a distribution network from scratch.

    I bought my first boat from a distributor what could demo it.
  9. Silver Raven
    Joined: Oct 2011
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    Location: Far North Queensland, Australia

    Silver Raven Senior Member

    G'day cobber. I sure hope Chris pays a LOT of ATTENTION to what you've said. Great advice. Best I've read in 50 years of being in the 'boating business' full time.

    I'm just up the road (3500ks north of Chris) - I've PM'ed him, with offer to assist, if I can (that's a 9 out-of 10).

    Sure hope he gets it up-&-rolling.

    We can all learn a whole lot from your great advice. THANKS. Ciao, james
  10. michael pierzga
    Joined: Dec 2008
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    Location: spain

    michael pierzga Senior Member

    Fun looking boat. I like your idea of marketing to resorts. Perhaps market as complete package ....say 6 boats, spare parts, safety gear, storage racks.... everything needed for say three seasons of hard use and market the whole "sail away" package
  11. CT 249
    Joined: Dec 2004
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    CT 249 Senior Member

    The concept of a simple, cheap new design is great. But if you're not willing to "go into the can of worms" of what the perfect design is, then it may be hard to convince the fairly educated target market of many clubs.

    In my experience in the sport (too many!) and industry (a decade or more), telling people how great your product is can cause a significant backlash. Turning up with a good product and showing how well it goes by simply getting out there and doing it seems to work much better.

    For instance, I'd like to think of myself as pretty well educated in design, but I can't see the reasoning in the very slab sides, flat bottom and "delta" plan shape in a boat that is medium-speed in terms of dimensions. Talking to guys like Morrison, Bieker and Bethwaite and experience in NS14s, skiffs, MRs, N12s, boards etc shows that such things are inter-related to basic proportions and intents, and the Go is very out there in design for a boat of moderate proportions.

    Either the vastly experienced pros who created boats like NS14s and 49ers and RS100s and Fevas and 800s and many Moths are drooling microcephalic idiots, OR your boat is aimed at something different - but in that case personally I'd like to be told how and why it is different. Or it's reasonable to think that something else is happening with the design.

    Marketing wise I've always been impressed by J Boats, who use the David Ogilvy style of copywriting their ads (I know one of the Johnstones was in ads, I've forgotten if I ever knew if he was ex O&M or influenced by them) where they would explain in detail how and why their designs worked, rather than just using adjectives like "brilliant design". And they would show race results. For example, what is the Go's record in the open division of the Vic dinghy champs, and by how much did it beat Tasars, NS14s etc?

    If it beat the comparable boats, we may be interested. If it's not aimed at doing so (which could be a very good thing IMHO, speed ain't everything by a long shot) then perhaps it would be good to indicate that, subtly, and therefore head off any criticism?

    Our club (one of the biggest dinghy clubs around) has people who have podiumed in development class worlds in their own designs or others and done similar stuff, and they can speak in detailed design terms and knowing them, they would expect a radical design to be explained or backed up by results before they would be interested.

    Personally I'm not sure in any way that windsurfer design is in advance of boat design. When the Windsurfer came out, it was given a yardstick about 2% slower than the Moth, and that covered everything from the open ocean in 25 knots to racing on a lake in a drifter. After 30 years or so, the Moth is still comparable in speed to a windsurfer around most courses but the Moth can finish when a FW board can't, so the extremes of boat design have actually advanced faster than the extreme of course-racing boards IMHO. Many of the advances claimed by boards (loaded battens, luff pockets, squaretops, etc) were done by dinghies years before.

    Good on you for trying to create what looks like a boat aimed at the newcomers, and at a great price.
  12. ancient kayaker
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    ancient kayaker aka Terry Haines

    Chris makes a good point; what is the primary claim for this new design? Is it performance, price, ability to function as a trainer, or combination of all three? It doesn't (yet) have the most important thing needed to penetrate a mature market, which is availability, and I'm not sure at this point whether the target is World markets or OZ/Asia. Initial market penetration might be helped by a kit for home-builders - hard to tell without lines - but that's not the objective, and it would have to compete with the Paper Dart which is also a trainer/racer. I'm don't know a lot about boat racing but it seems clubs mostly race a class boat rather than having open races where it can be show its superiority to other designs. Establishing a new class will be difficult unless you can get it adopted for the Olympics. I don't have specific recommendations to offer, but this kind of open discussion will often identify the path ahead. Good luck . . .
  13. sharpii2
    Joined: May 2004
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    Location: Michigan, USA

    sharpii2 Senior Member

    Looks to me like a good raid boat, because it is so easy to rig up and take down.

    The cockpit looks long enough for sleeping in and it looks easy to beach.

    I don't know if you have any raids in Australia. If not, perhaps you should start one.

    Google 'watertribe' to see what one is like and to see what the rules are like.
  14. TeddyDiver
    Joined: Dec 2007
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    TeddyDiver Gollywobbler

    For starters a lot of footage and vids to Youtube..
    1 person likes this.

  15. TeddyDiver
    Joined: Dec 2007
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    TeddyDiver Gollywobbler

    Sell TV companies a reality series "how a landlubber becomes salty" with your dinghy :)
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