Today is the 18th of September, the week before the Monaco Yacht Show and, essentially, the end of our market’s summer period and the start of the madness of show season, during which hopefully I will get to say hello to many of you and perhaps drink coffee or wine while debating the future of our unique industry. Anyway, while sitting on an empty beach in a straining deck chair in sunny Cornwall, I had a blue-sky idea to generate a monthly memo, sharing my thoughts, ideas and opinions, hopefully stimulating some reaction or commentary. 

Anyway, this 'Memo from the Deck Chairman' is all about what’s happening in the market, the world or my head, and is designed to gather input or insights from fellow business leaders who are focused on the future.

This month’s topic is simple – 'Marketing Mayhem'. The next three months are the most expensive months of our industry’s calendar, and I am eagerly anticipating the diverse mix of creativity, strategy and investment that you all have planned for the various shows ahead of us. Who has done something really smart, fresh or intelligent? Is there still a ‘brand war’ among the brokers? What unique idea has Feadship’s team created? And, my favourite game, who has thrown the biggest and most expensive party, only to find the same old party goers are on the list? 

We all invest in marketing, some more than others and with varying degrees of success, but at the end of the day I really think the time has come for everyone to sit back and start looking at what we’re all doing and, perhaps more importantly, what our clients think we’re all doing. We’re part of an incredibly exclusive marketplace with clients measured in the hundreds, yet it seems that everyone is fixated by huge numbers. Yet, to really market to the most elusive client base in the world, the industry’s budgets are too small. So we are faced with a conundrum. We need to attract a new client base while retaining the existing one but, to truly stand out from the crowd, no one is willing to invest a serious budget to do it really effectively. Perhaps the industry’s CEOs could solve the problem and come up with a strategy that suddenly changes the game and makes a new impact. 

If a thousand CEOs agreed to this plan, there would be an industry marketing fund of beyond €3 million that could, with the right vision, make a real impact and create a powerful message about the world of superyachts.

Just imagine if every CEO and Chairman said to their marketing team, “Save €3,000 from our annual marketing budget next year, because we’re going to invest it in a wider industry branding and communication strategy, with all of our competitors and suppliers.” I wonder what they would say. Many of you could quite comfortably siphon off a couple of thousand and it wouldn’t make a difference to your current marketing results, yet if a thousand CEOs agreed to this plan, there would be an industry marketing fund of beyond €3 million that could, with the right vision, make a real impact and create a powerful message about the world of superyachts.  

This idea is something I’m really passionate about, and want to set as a strategic cause to explore for the future of our industry. My team is currently conducting some very interesting research on buyer behaviour and owner/customer attitudes (click here to participate), all of which is designed to help our market communicate better with our target audience. We have seen a shrinking new-build order book, and I question how sustainable our industry is. The time has come for some of the players in the market to stop thinking that marketing is just another cost, rather a real investment that needs to be supported by research, measurement and fresh ideas that make our new and potential customers react and join the party.  

I’m bored of hearing key people who have been in the industry for as long as I have saying, “No one needs a superyacht”. Let’s change the rhetoric and start finding ways of convincing potential owners that owning a superyacht is the most fun you can have with the proceeds of your investment fund. If we put the funds we think we waste on marketing into an industry-wide plan, perhaps we might have a war chest that could change people’s perception. 

I wonder… 

I look forward to seeing many of you over the next few weeks, and if you have five minutes, please take our Owner Attitudes Survey.