Watershot Inc. had a great comment/question on our Facebook Page:
I have the 60-95 minutes per day to commit to social media, but i am interested to hear if you have more specific suggestions for an equipment manufacturer , like us, who want to use that time to effectively reach the target market for our products
The quick answer is: the exact same way as everyone else.
This Isn’t Rocket Surgery
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
-Robert Frost, “The Road Not Taken”
We could debate all day just what the hell he meant by that; we don’t need to when it comes to social media marketing for our SCUBA business. We can take both roads.
Road #1: Would you rather target the dive centers and resorts who will either stock your equipment for sale or use it on trips? I consider this a top-down approach.
Road #2: Or would you rather reach your end consumers who are buying your gear who then order it direct from you or from their local dive center? This would be a bottom-up approach.
The Dive Centers
Unfortunately, many (not all) dive centers still haven’t figured out the internet. They’re still waiting for the equipment manufacturer sales rep to come around and give a demo. Utilizing social media marketing to reach them will probably be a bit of a wasted effort. Not to say B2B marketing via social media is impossible, just more difficult in this industry than some others.
If you want to use online tools to reach dive centers, your best ROI is really going to come from a tool like DiveNewsWire where you can get your press release out via email. They’ve been around for over 16 years, so I would expect their email database is fairly extensive.
This is who I would go after.
They’re easier to find on social media and they’re the ones ultimately buying the equipment. These people tend to be more engaging (read: FUN) on social networks than their SCUBA store owner counterparts, so you may actually enjoy your “work”.
In the case of Watershot Inc., they have it good in that they have an online retail store. This makes it very easy to track how social media activity impacts sales through tools like Google Analytics.
For SCUBA gear manufacturers who don’t do online sales, your tracking will be a little more difficult, but not impossible. That’s a topic of its own, so make sure you’re subscribed so you can find out how to do that.
If I Dive for 30 Minutes to 87 Feet…
Hopefully that math isn’t too difficult, but I need to give you another example. I’ll use simple numbers so it’s easy even for the math haters among us to follow along.
Let’s say in the past 30 days, I’ve been able to drive over 3,000 people to an online retail site via a blog, a Facebook Page, a Twitter account and an email newsletter.
If there’s only a 10% conversion rate (people who visit the retail site who actually buy something) and an average sales price of $100, the return on my efforts is $30,000. Feel free to adjust for your numbers.
All of the connections have been with real people, the end consumers with no real focus on reaching dive centers.
Not too bad. And that’s what I do all day 🙂
Take a look at a company like Diver DLyte (Twitter/Facebook): they are a manufacturer who is leveraging social tools to reach consumers and dive centers both. Between just their Facebook and Twitter accounts, they can effectively reach 5,393 people very quickly. Assuming a 10% conversion on a social media campaign and $14.97 for a 3-pack, they’d stand to make over $8,000 per campaign.
Targeting on Twitter is a real pain. Just try setting up a search for “SCUBA” in your favorite program (I like Hootsuite) and see what kind of nasty results you get over a couple of days. (Consider yourself warned)
To get started following some SCUBA people, I have a Twitter List that I’m updating fairly regularly. On the list are lots of SCUBA professionals (who could recommend your gear to their students), but also quite a few dive centers and divers on the list.
Facebook is going to be your best bet for targeting online due to the sheer volume of information that Facebook collects about their users (complain less about online privacy and instead use it to your advantage). Head over to their Ad Center to get started. While the interface is pretty user-friendly, I’ll be getting an illustrated guide with recommendations together shortly.
The last option I recommend is using Google Adwords. If you’re like me and think to yourself “I never click on search ads”, think about this: Google is a multi-billion dollar company that was built on search ads. So people do click on those ads.
Google ads are less targeted than Facebook, but can still be a great investment if used correctly. Like the Facebook ads, I’ll be creating an illustrated guide soon if you need some help.
“He Who Fails to Plan, Plans to Fail”
When it comes to online marketing, especially via social tools, just start using them.
You’ll see where the conversations go, what kinds of customers respond and what kinds of conversions you can get. Consider the recommendations above a starting point, but every sub-niche within the SCUBA industry may be a little different.