Couta

Sports Marketing 101

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The recent crap coverage of the Sydney to Hobart, the non - existent PR for the Volvo visit to Melbourne, the continued drop in participation......all highlight the complete failure of our sport to market itself.....starting with the appalling lack of anything aspirational in terms of video. Sure we have vid of extreme stuff taking place in remote parts of the globe - from Volvo and Vendee to Americas Cup - but that's completely inaccessible and consequently pretty irrelevant.

Where is the video that tells the stories of the weekend warriors - the people who turn up each week to sail at their club with mates - the camaraderie, the prep, the thrill of the start line, the tactical decision making and execution...and the social de-brief after the race over a few beverages?

We have the technology - and Drones are a game changer - what we lack is imaginative narrative .

Our sport has so many stories to tell at so many levels - despite the drawbacks of cost and time, there are so many positives....but we, as a group, have (almost) completely failed to tell them.

It's a sad indictment that our best advocate is Sailor Girl - an (and my apologies here Nic - cos I LOVE what you do!) enthusiastic under resourced amateur/semi-pro.

What can we do about this? Well lets start by putting some resource into marketing our sport (Internally for a start!!) - Here's link to a local sailor/film maker who did this as a school project(!!!) Imagine what he's capable of if given the chance to do a real S2H backgrounder and coverage! This is a dinghy story - but it could just as easily be a weekend warrior keelboat story....there are so many positive stories to tell - but we need to start telling them. Video is the medium!

 

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Agree. We can also continue doing what we do. Even without fanfare or publicity or sponsors, still worthwhile.

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FFS Fleetwood - We've flogged that horse to death... Should probably have called this "Story Telling 101" - My point is that we don't even tell our stories to each other - lets start there and in a way that people can relate to! Professionally produced narrative via Video. 

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4 hours ago, Couta said:

FFS Fleetwood - We've flogged that horse to death... Should probably have called this "Story Telling 101" - My point is that we don't even tell our stories to each other - lets start there and in a way that people can relate to! Professionally produced narrative via Video. 

Good idea. You find the compelling personalities and the money to pay for it all.

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Ever polled sailors or attended a meeting/town hall on how to improve sailing participation locally? Mostly like herding cats, that can't understand why today's kids aren't attracted to 70's sailing culture, not a really new idea in the room and new ideas are shot down one way or another (summarily, 'we tried that and it didn't work,' left to die on the vine, or 'yeah, someone (else) should do that'). Ask them to look at sports/activities that are growing vs those that aren't and see what response you get. The recent AC multihull vs monohull debates shine a light on the established culture, kinda funny the establishment got a "monohull" they don't know what to make of...

There have been countless articles on the subject, even a few books, yet the decline persists. And there have been countless threads here from every angle that go nowhere.

And most of the "success stories" I've read only move the needle while the individuals/groups are putting forth an outsized effort. As soon as they burn out or try to pass the baton, the sport reverts to decline. Other than elite sailing (top tier yacht clubs & professional sailors), the activity is going the way of polo, equestrian, golf, etc. - the median age of participants just keeps getting older and older while the pastime just gets more expensive, inevitable how that ends.

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i've found most sailing coverage really.... not that fun to watch. Even when they do everything right. And, when it is fun to watch, i never got to watch it live - which is the fun part. That said the footage of the volvo boats leaving Portugal was pure sex. I must have watched that footage three times and then another three times when i went to my parents' house in florida with their huge tv. Also, the coverage from the olympics in Brazil and Weymouth has been fucking excellent. 

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Great video of sailing a Finn, and how hard they are to sail well. Much too hard for me and most skiffies to do any good at. And that's ideal for an Olympic boat - Citius, Altius, Fortius.

Not sure how this is promoting sailing participation though. Those videos of kids having a hoot playing on Bics surely are more appealing to get people into sailing:

 

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First post, forgive me, a relatively new sailor, learning I probably have more cruiser to me than racer. I've been in the "sport" five years, starting with ASA classes, crewing beer cans, and now dinghy sailing (because its what I can afford). Here's my 2¢, based on that very limited experience.

1) My gut tells me the decline in sailing is ALL ABOUT MONEY, and is closely tied to rising income inequality in the US. Not much we can do to fix that here...considering wind and water are free, how is this activity so damned expensive?

2) I'm not a jock and "sports" don't appeal to me, yet crewing races is pretty much the only affordable way of getting on the water where I live (SF Bay). Understood, racing is where the most obvious drama is, which makes for good storytelling and marketing, but it is not the beginning and end of the pastime.

3) I am a professional marketer and storyteller, and I can add that most good stories focus around a character and their change. In sailing, the character is either a person, a crew, or a boat. To tell an effective story, you need a character you care about, they need to have a goal (setting up audience expectations), obstacles to getting that goal, and something inside them needs to change in order to reach the goal. The video above has lovely visuals, and although I watched with no sound...character change? expectations? I saw a guy in a dinghy hiking out a lot, no explanation of what he was doing or why, but it takes big leg muscles to do it. And don't tell me it was all there in the soundtrack, you should be able to get the story by watching with no sound. (And vice versa, you should be able to get it by listening and not watching, too.)

Also, 4) this whole site is pretty sexist, even when it is actively trying not to be.

and 5) Keep up the good work, SA definitely feels like a home away from the water, has opened my eyes to a ton of sailing activities and knowledge, and to be honest, the marginal attitude is part of the fun that keeps me coming back.

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14 hours ago, Couta said:

FFS Fleetwood - We've flogged that horse to death... Should probably have called this "Story Telling 101" - My point is that we don't even tell our stories to each other - lets start there and in a way that people can relate to! Professionally produced narrative via Video. 

Yep, if you can't tell a good story you can't market anything to anyone.  My point, (flogged to death before) - what are you trying to sell, to whom?

I don't watch much sailing, prefer to go sailing. This part of the world (Pittwater) most kids are either in the water or on the water whenever they can be, so sailing is fairly healthy. The trick is to get the kids out of the surf and into boats.....  Harder in less water-accessible places.

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On 12/26/2017 at 4:02 PM, Couta said:

The recent crap coverage of the Sydney to Hobart, the non - existent PR for the Volvo visit to Melbourne, the continued drop in participation......all highlight the complete failure of our sport to market itself.....starting with the appalling lack of anything aspirational in terms of video. Sure we have vid of extreme stuff taking place in remote parts of the globe - from Volvo and Vendee to Americas Cup - but that's completely inaccessible and consequently pretty irrelevant.

Where is the video that tells the stories of the weekend warriors - the people who turn up each week to sail at their club with mates - the camaraderie, the prep, the thrill of the start line, the tactical decision making and execution...and the social de-brief after the race over a few beverages?

We have the technology - and Drones are a game changer - what we lack is imaginative narrative .

Our sport has so many stories to tell at so many levels - despite the drawbacks of cost and time, there are so many positives....but we, as a group, have (almost) completely failed to tell them.

It's a sad indictment that our best advocate is Sailor Girl - an (and my apologies here Nic - cos I LOVE what you do!) enthusiastic under resourced amateur/semi-pro.

What can we do about this? Well lets start by putting some resource into marketing our sport (Internally for a start!!) - Here's link to a local sailor/film maker who did this as a school project(!!!) Imagine what he's capable of if given the chance to do a real S2H backgrounder and coverage! This is a dinghy story - but it could just as easily be a weekend warrior keelboat story....there are so many positive stories to tell - but we need to start telling them. Video is the medium!

 

I know you mean well, but that shit is boring as fuck to non sailors. 

No one besides other sailors (and a few Facebook friends) are going to watch that. It’s just reality. Our sport isn’t exciting to watch unless it’s at the extremes. 

If you don’t believe me, head to a bar, pick a random 35ish year old, and see just how long you can keep them paying attention. 

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4 hours ago, Monkey said:

I know you mean well, but that shit is boring as fuck to non sailors. 

No one besides other sailors (and a few Facebook friends) are going to watch that. It’s just reality. Our sport isn’t exciting to watch unless it’s at the extremes. 

If you don’t believe me, head to a bar, pick a random 35ish year old, and see just how long you can keep them paying attention. 

I'm saying that we need to tell our own stories - to others who sail and who might like to sail....The direct pitch approach to non sailors hasn't worked...mainly because unless you try it and get hooked on the lifestyle, it's hard to explain. While others here reckon that "we've been there and tried that but the decline is inevitable" I'd argue that we have a lot of unexplored marketing territory to explore.

The recent passing of surf filmmaker Bruce Brown gave me reason to reconsider...where is the videography that follows a sailors life? Where is the story telling that makes everyone WANT to try sailing? We know how addictive the wind & water is....but I have yet to see great storytelling around our sport.....

A recent SA thread showed the Clipper Cup from '82...and it got a great response - sure there was nostalgia, but the story was well told and it got a strong emotional response...

Every regatta has a story (or several) that goes beyond the favourites and the scoreboard....it's the narrative of the first timer at a Nationals/worlds, or the comeback, or the overcoming obstacles to make it to the event at all.....Sure there's a formula - but all good stories are formulaic - and ours has yet to be told!

The closest I see today are the YouTube channels of cruising sailors (yeah..generally in bikinis) - these guys have patrons and subscribers prepared to PAY to vicariously participate in the sailing adventure.....

And it's not about "extreme" or "olympic elite"...(that's ok but it's a tiny part of our sport and so esoteric and inaccessible that it doesn't do much to encourage participation for the most of us)....it's about the PASSION and FUN of our sport 

There are great stories for us to create and tell each other and in the re-telling attract and motivate like minded people....video is the medium

 

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4 hours ago, Monkey said:

I know you mean well, but that shit is boring as fuck to non sailors. 

No one besides other sailors (and a few Facebook friends) are going to watch that. It’s just reality. Our sport isn’t exciting to watch unless it’s at the extremes. 

If you don’t believe me, head to a bar, pick a random 35ish year old, and see just how long you can keep them paying attention. 

And Monkey - don't be a patronising prick - particularly when you missed the point. I'm not saying "do video to attract non sailors" - I'm saying "Tell stories that get sailors excited, motivated and more engaged with our sport".

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4 hours ago, Fleetwood said:

Yep, if you can't tell a good story you can't market anything to anyone.  My point, (flogged to death before) - what are you trying to sell, to whom?

I don't watch much sailing, prefer to go sailing. This part of the world (Pittwater) most kids are either in the water or on the water whenever they can be, so sailing is fairly healthy. The trick is to get the kids out of the surf and into boats.....  Harder in less water-accessible places.

I'm selling the sailing lifestyle to sailors...cos right now they're not seeing their own stories told....and they're wandering off into the wilderness! The surf industry is sold on stories..from Endless Summer to The Search....they spend a fortune on telling them...brilliantly. Where is sailing's "Endless Summer"?

 

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Oh dear, the old nutmeg about promoting our sport as if it was an easy problem to solve.

I think I may know a little about the challenges having looked at them long and hard and having founded the first sailing club where I live.

This thread is called "sports Marketing 101" so the first thing to do it to look at the 'market' and the competition in that market.

Let's be quite clear the 'market' is leisure time, whether young or old makes no difference.

Then look at the competition. Sadly today's leisure time appears to be increasingly spent either on a couch watching someone else doing or in front of a computer screen on anti-social media (just like I am doing right now).

It is much easier (and less healthy) to just sit there instead of making the effort to try and find out how to get cold and wet doing something exciting. And it is not just our sport - just look at the rise of "reality television", people like the kardashians have made a fortune out of people 'living 'life by proxy'. Even the rise of the incidence of obesity shows that a huge percentage of the developed world are quite happy to sit on their fat arses watching other people "DO".

We should also look at where our sport really is. Football (soccer to our North American friends) is the world's biggest sport. Correct? Well I would argue Incorrect!

How many people actually PLAY soccer? Granted millions watch it but actually PLAY soccer?

Compare that to people who ACTUALLY go sailing. I am not talking about JUST racing here as it is estimated my many much more qualified than me that around 95% of sailors never race yet are out there every weekend on their boats.

I personally think that one of our problems with the youth uptake of our sport is too often it becomes a competitive event FOR THE PARENTS without consulting the children. When my daughter was young she loved to race but she was just as happy being part of the gang that would play follow the leader in Oppies or Toppers on a Saturday morning, or have water fights when there was no wind or see who could paddle their Oppie down the marina fastest - without a paddle. 3 letters F U N!

Another problem we have with providing 'exciting coverage' to advertise our sport is, (and again using soccer as a bench mark) it is not played on a 50m x 100m playing field and it is only relatively recently that technology has caught up with cameras small enough, weather and water proof enough and light enough to be carried onto the field of play.

A look back through the coverage of various Whitbread/Volvo Races (all available on YouTube) shows a very marked development time line. The early races could show footage of the start, the arrival then highlights filmed (video wasn't good enough in the early days) yet on the last leg of the Volvo, for example, in the 'dark cave' which is the cabin of a Volvo 65 footage of Dongfeng's Keel Ram problems was on the internet almost before they had fixed it.

And mentioning the Volvo highlights another problem. To produce high quality, well edited video that 'tells the story' requires people who know what they are doing and is therefore expensive (people like to be paid for their skills after all). Each Volvo boat has an OBR (On Board Reporter) all skilled at their craft and all on a salary.

At a more amateur level, it also has to be remembered that to expect a sailing club member to spend their time videoing an event be it from a boat or flying a drone or whatever means they are having to give up their leisure time - presumably sailing - to promote the sport for others only for their efforts to be poo-pooed as 'not very good' by people "sitting on their couch or at a computer keyboard".

Bottom line I believe is if more people gave just a little of their time instead of expecting others to give a lot of their time then the situation would not be as it is and I speak from experience as I spent 5 years growing a club including an entire season using my own boat as a committee boat (didn't race once) while one of the biggest 'ideas members' had never so much as raised a flag to help the race programme.

Anyway, rant over

See ya on the water

SS

 

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The surf industry does a great job of selling a youth-oriented, (alternate) lifestyle and (counter) culture, essentially to a youth market.

If sailing wants to capture, and keep young sailors it must do the same, concentrating on foiling moths, 18 footers, etc preferably in exotic places, not middle-aged guys sailing big, expensive machines.

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I wonder why you'd want to "grow" the sport.

I've never shared an anchorage with five boats, thinking that it would be much nicer to have fifty boats in there.

I've yet to find a big sailing club that was as much fun as a small club.

Those people who see the appeal of sailing will join us, the rest might be encouraged to join and turn our clubs into ego-fests.

Who needs it?

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I like reply  #11 on this thread.  To a newbie asking why sailing is expensive?   Sailboats operate in a fairly severe chemical and mechanical regime.  They have to be built well - at any size- of high quality materials.  That's not a recipe for cheap fun.  But the boat is not the expensive part.  Asset inflation, esp. real estate, and especially waterfront real estate has occurred in-hand with increasing income inequality.    To really learn sailing- racing, cruising, upkeep etc. takes years and is really best transmitted as a family lifestyle.   Sans that family involvement,  its going to be like flying small aircraft, sport diving, amateur auto racing,  serious triathalon, etc.  In other words, a narrow, niche sport with mostly affluent participants and highly committed ones at that.  It's just no longer a lifestyle thing from a bygone era, so the numbers will be a fraction of what they were every year going forward.  

That said, while fewer may do it, what they do is on better boats, in better spots, at better organized events, to a high standard of competition and execution.       

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Sports " marketing " is the number one reason why sailing has become expensive.

its the number one reason why a talented home boy program will get blown away when he tangles with the sponsorship boys 

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3 hours ago, Fleetwood said:

The surf industry does a great job of selling a youth-oriented, (alternate) lifestyle and (counter) culture, essentially to a youth market.

If sailing wants to capture, and keep young sailors it must do the same, concentrating on foiling moths, 18 footers, etc preferably in exotic places, not middle-aged guys sailing big, expensive machines.

"Concentrating on foiling moths..." yeah, but what does "Concentrating " look like? If you mean great videography and top quality narrative ...then yeah! If it's just more drone shots of foiling....Nah! It's the story telling that gets engagement, not just exciting imagery!

 

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YOUR CHALLENGE:

  • Your competition and your market are: 300 channels of TV, Video Games, and the Internet (research has proven this).

Your hurdles to overcome are:

  • Convincing this market that sailing is not expensive and is not exclusive (research has proven this).
  • You need to prove to younger people with college loans, trying to get their own place to live, trying to get a car, etc. that there is a place for them that will cost them next to nothing (research has proven this).

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It seems most posters here are pavlovian in their response - and despite several statements that make it clear that this thread is about Marketing to EXISTING SAILORS using VIDEOGRAPHIC STORYTELLING - insist on re-hashing the same old "Time, Cost, Videogames" arguments for failure to attract new audiences.

So be it.

As a lifelong competitive sailor I can say I haven't seen too many stories that reflect my lifestyle....or those of my equally passionate friends.

With the technology and money (most of it directed to a very few Olympic sailors...but that's another story!) around, there is an opportunity to start telling great stories....but that takes vision & talent.

There's the challenge.

 

 

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It's been a while since I even read these dusty halls of opinion, in fact I think it was about 4 years ago when I threw in the towel and left sailing to its own devices. Since then I have been a lot happier. I've sailed more, enjoyed it more, but the professional part of the sport is a bit like Trump America - you get what you deserve. 

Over 10 years ago, I started a blog. Some loved it, some hated it. The aim then was to shame the top events into being better. Some learned. Some didn't. I could get upset, I could rail against every amateurish mistake and every decision that consigns the sport to the 'flintstone' age, but instead I've decided to move on. I tried to change the world. Some came along for the ride. Some of the best. But here we are .... and nothing has changed, because this sport is full of people who don't want to 'rock the boat' ,which is ironic on a site called Sailing Anarchy. 

Here's an idea. Why don't you spend the same Marketing budget as surfing does? Why don't you stop whinging and put your money where your mouth is and support sites like Sailing Anarchy with proper advertising budget. Why don't you pay for hollywood budget style ads with helicopter or drone footgage that Aston Martin or Emaar would be proud of? 

Stop preaching about Marketing 101 unless you are willing to invest the same marketing budget as Uber or AirBNB is on Marketing.  

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2 hours ago, Couta said:

It seems most posters here are pavlovian in their response - and despite several statements that make it clear that this thread is about Marketing to EXISTING SAILORS using VIDEOGRAPHIC STORYTELLING - insist on re-hashing the same old "Time, Cost, Videogames" arguments for failure to attract new audiences.

So be it.

As a lifelong competitive sailor I can say I haven't seen too many stories that reflect my lifestyle....or those of my equally passionate friends.

With the technology and money (most of it directed to a very few Olympic sailors...but that's another story!) around, there is an opportunity to start telling great stories....but that takes vision & talent.

There's the challenge.

 

 

Unfortunately you’re far from the first to conclude (right or wrong) marketing is an issue for sailing participation. Many have tried for years, some successfully, but as soon as they stop putting forth an outsized effort and/or try to enlist help, the trend reverts to - decline. There’s no shortage of recommendations ‘that someone should take on.’ But many peeps with the energy to “do” have really tried and ultimately given up. But knock yourself out, hope you succeed where others have not.

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I’ve been running communications/ PR for clubs and now on my own consulting for the better part of a decade. People don’t want to pay for  the product. I love doing it, but it’s not going to happen for free, and I wouldn’t be able to survive on passion alone. 

You want a solid videographer that you don’t need to micromanage? Be ready to fork out $1k+ per day. Want general PR consulting for a fleet or club? Thanks yachtsponsorship^ - you get what you pay for.

Unfortunately, we can’t live off of sailing so we invest our time into sports, communities, campaigns, etc that invest in us.

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if you want to market to the masses you need to do stuff the masses are interested in 

well there is an excess of pickle dish and glory no value prizes something watchers don't care about

but little real cash for winning that watchers would care about

and unlimited cash spending by the racers with no control so big bucks wins far too often with no drama or suspense

sure they rate a boat by complex formulas

ONES that never adjust for spending on crew sails bottom prep electronics  ect

so two identical boats one new VS  one 20 years old with old sails rate the same unless there is an [small] age allowance that may cover hull age but NOTHING ELSE

gets worse when the pro crews and sail makers all are on the new boat with sat weather radar  electronics ect the older boat lacks BUT RATES THE SAME AS

if you want masses to watch the races need to be  fair exciting with drama and suspense not he who spends the most always wins

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On 28/12/2017 at 9:42 PM, yachtsponsorship said:

Stop preaching about Marketing 101 unless you are willing to invest the same marketing budget as Uber or AirBNB is on Marketing.  

That obviously isn't going to happen.

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On 12/28/2017 at 6:14 PM, GC&GC said:

When you cut through all the horseshit,  its all about the MONEY ...........  nothing else.   Lots of  delusion but only  MONEY  is  real.

 

No, that is a very big issue, but there are many other valid reasons.  Amount of recreational time, competing interests, can't get crew, etc., etc., etc.......

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"The Masses" are never going to do anything but sit on the couch and stuff cheetos into their craws while staring vacantly at the TV.  The product is cheetos and beer and sugar water and take-out pizza.  Can you do that with sailing?  Need drama, skimpy outfits, violence, (or at least occasional injury) suspense.  It would need to be heavily edited for time and content.  

Take for example, the US TV coverage of bicycling, which has similar structural problems.  It started and ended with Lance Armstrong in the Tour de France.  Lots of time filled in with "sport related" bits.  Nothing about racing.  Nothing about cycling.  Nothing about the other contestants.  Instead, there were shows about Lance.  Shows about Lance's furniture.  Shows about Lance's kitchen.  Shows about Lance's dog.  It made me vomit. No doubt it was fully researched and optimized to the audience.  They weren't trying to make cyclists.  They were just stuffing more crap down the throats of consumers.  And when Lance went away, the coverage and the interest went away.       

If you want to make sailors, and (eventually) sell sailing crap, put more money into youth sailing programs.  Especially make opportunities for kids whose parents can't afford this stuff. The yacht club puppies are already sold or not.  Return on investment might be a little slow...

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