Looking Back at 2013 & Forward to 2014

It’s that time of year, a time when people reflect and make plans. I’m fortunate to have one of those end of year birthdays too, so not only am I doing the end of year reflection/planning, I’m doing that I’m another year older and what have I accomplished thing. I’m a fairly introspective person as it is, so the end of each year is a bit on the heavy side.

As cliché as it is, history does repeat itself, so it’s important to evaluate what we’ve done in the past to find lessons for the future. As in past years, I’ll take a look at how the past year has gone from a personal standpoint, from the perspective of this site, and finally looking at my career in the diving industry. After reflecting on 2013, I’ll share some goals/plans for 2014. I like to share my goals because it helps to keep me accountable.

Looking Back

As a diver, I got a decent amount of dive time in on my new tec rig. I’ve also started my tec training with TDI Advanced Nitrox  almost done, then continuing up the ladder as time permits. I still need to figure out my stage regs since I don’t want to rent/borrow forever.

As Nick from New SCUBA Marketing, I haven’t done as much as I would have liked. When I started New SCUBA Marketing, it was designed to help grow the industry. I quickly got picked up by one of the biggest names in the industry to take charge of social media marketing. As a friend said to me when I was offered the position, “You sell more gear than anybody, and more gear means more active divers”. So in that way, I have helped to grow the industry.

However, it’s not as much as I would have liked. I’ve been career first, personal life (including diving) second, hobby (this site and other hobbies) third. Luckily for me, I love my career and have had almost enough time for diving. Unluckily for you, that’s meant my tips and tricks for marketing your dive business have been a bit few and far between.

As career Nick, 2013 has been a bit rough. I’ve felt like much of it has been spent on my heels doing site redesigns, dealing with Google penalties, new social networks taking off, old social networks making life more difficult, and a lot of time spent digging through analytics tools to deal with search penalties and changing social algorithms. As I’ve pointed out this year, online marketing is getting harder, not easier, ranking is super important, but gets harder every day due to Google updates, and I’ve been given a list of projects that are good, but time consuming and not really trying anything new.

While 2013 was a bit rough from the career standpoint, I’m able to celebrate victories such as a record low number of complaints via social media, several people referring to me as “Mr. LeisurePro” when they posted their Facebook-prompted birthday wishes, and quite a few happy customers I’ve been able to personally help select gear or solve a problem.

Here were the goals I had listed for 2013 as well as what happened with them:

  • See fewer tasks I can delegate away on my to-do list and replace them with bigger, more experimental projects
    Several tasks I had in mind to delegate away to my VA I’ve been able to move, however they were replaced with medium sized, less experimental projects by our marketing consultants. So I’d call this a partial victory.
  • Learn HTML5 to keep our sites cutting edge and forwards-compatible
  • Develop an iOS app in either the diving or outdoor industry
    I hate to admit it, but for some reason my “programming” skills have been focused on HTML, CSS, PHP, and Javascript for so long that learning another language hasn’t been very easy for me. This goal hasn’t moved beyond conceptual.
  • Make our site redesign incredibly mobile friendly, both in terms of responsive design as well as load time optimization
  • Create an infographic for each site
    Did it for the bigger of the two sites, it didn’t have anywhere near the impact I expected so didn’t spend the time creating one for the other site. Experimenting now with interactive infographics.
  • Become conversational in Spanish
    A little better, but not too much. I guess like programming languages, I’m having a hard time picking up a new one.
  • Improve traffic for both sites, search and referral
    One site is up all around, the other site was penalized, but has been recovering well.
  • Improve my Google Analytics skills
    I’m a pro!
  • Invest more time in Google+, Pinterest and Instagram
    Done with more on the way.
  • Take a day off every week
    Ended up being more like every other week, but it’s progress!
  • Go diving at least once a month

Five out of eleven I can check off as completely accomplished, another four are 50% or better, with two (both language-based) seriously lagging. While these were my goals and I don’t like completing all of them, I’m also realistic and understand that life and my normal daily tasks haven’t been conducive to learning either a spoken or programming language.

Looking Forward

As a diver, my plan is to finish my Advanced Nitrox, then work through both Decompression Procedures and Extended Range. If time and finances permit, I’d like to start my Trimix training as well.

As Nick from New SCUBA Marketing, I have something big in the works. Due to my time constraints and potential conflicts of interest, I’ve come to realize I can’t do this alone. So I’ve found a couple of very like-minded people who really want to see SCUBA as a sport grow and be life-sustaining for as many instructors, shop owners, and gear manufacturers as possible.

I’ll still be around sharing marketing tips and techniques from a variety of perspectives, but these two new voices will bring even more ideas to the table. They’ll even be able to help you one-on-one where I haven’t been able to due to my career. There will be a more detailed announcement about this very soon.

As career Nick, 2014 is going to be big. My playbook for the next year is almost complete and it’s filled with a lot more outreach to the diving community and trying some exciting new things on the social front. I need to finish it, submit it, and get approval on everything, but this year will be less about reacting to changes in the social marketing landscape and more about experimentation and engaging divers who are spending their surface intervals online.

Goals for 2014

  • As a diver: Work through at least TDI Extended Range, continue diving at least once a month.
  • As Nick from New SCUBA Marketing: Usher in some new voices to help me bring valuable concepts and actionable tips to those willing to listen in the diving industry.
  • As Career Nick: Be everywhere. I still meet the occasional diver who hasn’t heard of us. With the other company I work for being new in the outdoor niche, there are plenty of people who haven’t heard of us. I’m going to go nuts trying new things to get us out there every way possible.

How did 2013 work out for you? What are you plans for 2014?

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