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Todd Malicoat is a former charter captain and avid angler with plenty of marketing experience under his belt. Below, he shares some top tips you can use to market your charter online today…
Fishing is generally not a glamorous business. On Instagram it’s all blue skies and jumping fish, but the reality can be completely different. When we started up our charter business in Miami in 2011, there was no welcome party or champagne christening. The local fishermen didn’t roll out the red carpet and greet us with open arms and fanfare of help and support for our new business.
Luckily, I’m a competitive marketer at heart, so I knew we were fighting above our weight to get people interested in paying a thousand dollars per day to fish with us. Building the business with authentic marketing, reviews, and storytelling became a big focus of my life. Overall, people want an authentic experience. A fishing trip is disappointing if the experience doesn’t meet the expectation.
Getting the word out about your business can be tough at first, and there are no magic solutions. So what can you do right now to market your charter online, and make sure you’re not shouting to an empty audience? Below, I share my top tips that’ll help you get the word out about your charter…
What’s your charter story?
All fishermen (and marketers) are storytellers
A sense of storytelling is where most good marketing starts and continues. Tell your story first, gather experience at the right time and in the right place, then share it with the world.
Promoting your story at the right time is important. Instagram fame, for example, is short-lived when it’s a hype, fad, or some other viral fluke. Maintaining authentic marketing is much more difficult, but more rewarding and valuable in the long run. Learn to jump on what is current, and work from a single success with consistency and authenticity.
It can be difficult to stand out in an area filled with the same fish in the same school. Take some time to think about the following:
- When did you start fishing? Are you from a fishing family, like me? If you grew up with a rod in your hand, let customers know!
- What’s the main reason you decided to start a charter business? Maybe you wanted to share your experience, or couldn’t imagine doing anything else other than spending your days outdoors.
- Are you drawn to a specific type of fishing? Maybe you specialize in slow pitch vertical jigging, kite fishing, or designing your own trolling lures.
- Do you target specific species? Why did you choose this type of fishing?
Thinking about the answers to these questions can help you really nail down your story and decide how you want to present yourself to customers. Each listing on FishingBooker gives you the space to share your story – not only do you have the listing description itself, but you also have your captain profile. If you have a story that sets you apart from the crowd, get in touch with our marketing team and make sure it’s included on your listing.
There’s no such thing as free marketing – but there is DIY
If you can build your own website and marketing campaigns, you’ll save big money on marketing. DIY marketing can be a time-consuming and difficult investment. Starting with some help from a “marketing buddy that fishes” is a good place to begin.
Your domain (website address) is the foundation of your web presence. You’ll use it for most other types of marketing. You can promote your business with SEO (search engine optimization, which is basically how high your page ranks on Google), PPC (pay-per-click, when customers click on an ad that takes them to your website), FishingBooker, and a variety of other channels.
When you sign up with FishingBooker, you’ll receive free marketing. On top of this, it often ranks #1 on Google (both organic and paid). Say customers are searching for “fishing in Miami”. When they type this query in Google, the first website that pops up is a list of Miami-based charters in FishingBooker. Take a look below:
Of course, just appearing high in Google’s search results isn’t everything. You want your FishingBooker listing and business website to attract prospective customers by answering common questions about:
- Seasonal catches and fishing reports
- Boat type
- Gear and fishing techniques
- Crew experience
- Trip length
- What to bring
- What’s included
These are the questions everyone will ask, and your site is the DIY answer. Write down your best stories, collect the best photos, and write solid descriptions of your trips.
Choosing your domain and business name
Your domain and business name don’t have to be identical, but should likely be similar and brand-able. A strong 2–3 word unique domain name that is pronounceable by phone, and includes your location or other specialties is the ideal.
These domains can range from a $10 registration fee to tens of thousands of dollars for two-word domains in large markets. For example, if a touring agency in Miami wanted to buy miamitours.com, it would probably be pretty expensive! These domains serve as the property you are building the house of your business on. Start with an inexpensive one and build a site, and you can move it as you learn how to do the setup and creation.
If you have the financial means, a strong domain can really be the making of your business. We decided to spend money on a two-word domain in order to have search result advantages. But for many charter operations, their marketing budget starts at $0. You can really only add to this with experience and financial – and time – commitments.
Building your web presence
Building the site alone is not enough. Your business needs a presence on Google and beyond for enough people to find you and book 50–200 trips per year. My personal 2 cents? Invest time in learning about marketing during the slow season. I know I was more willing to invest time, energy, and resources into marketing when I was less busy actually operating the business.
There are lots of competitors your prospective customers are sorting through. While some DIY knowledge can get you started with a website, you’re probably going to need some help on the SEO and other areas of building a web presence to gain visibility, relevance, and authority in your local area.
- Find a local web person. Know of someone who has web-building experience? Trade a trip for consulting on your website. Ask them to show you the ropes once the site has been created. Additionally, see if a family member or friend is willing to step in and keep an eye on this side of the business.
- Consider a rebrand. If you’re newer to the market or aren’t yet established, take a look at your charter name. For example, if your area is known for a specific fish species, why not include that? Combine it with a fishing pun, or something related to you, and chances are you’ll find something unique.
Finally, it’s important to remember that you’re building a marketing asset over a period of years. It can take time. Being consistent and authentic while you build your business is what’s important.
Reviews tell your customer stories
Getting reviews up front was a very important part of showing our business was legit, especially as we were in a saturated, highly-competitive region. Remember I mentioned the importance of being authentic? Reviews are a great way to show customers that you are who you say you are, and that your charter does what it says on the tin.
On FishingBooker, you can invite your previous customers to leave you a review, even if you haven’t actually run any trips through the platform. That way, you can build up your credibility and show customers what to expect. If you have run trips through FishingBooker, your customers will receive a review invitation. They’ll be able to share their thoughts about their experience with you, and their review will be published underneath your listing.
Getting the word out about your business
No matter what your feelings are about social media, it’s become a place to reliably share fishing reports and showcase trip highlights. The visual aspect of most social media platforms means that it’s pretty easy to create a post that’ll grab the attention of your target audience.
If you don’t see yourself as much of a writer, don’t worry – the shorter the content, the better! If you have the know-how, you can also make short videos to show customers what your recent trips have looked like. Here’s an example of a successful Instagram post:
When it comes to building your social media presence, you can:
- Be consistent. Try to create posts and share content regularly. Not every post has to be a long detailed trip review. A quick snapshot of happy customers on your boat holding their catch can be just as engaging. What’s important is to make sure your posts are consistent. Don’t just post one picture and then go silent for a month.
- Start local. Make connections with other captains, customers, and social media users in your area. Check out local news sources and see if they have a strong social media presence – maybe they’ll be open to featuring you or sharing a post you’ve created. Additionally, why not ask previous customers to write a quick post about you on Facebook or Instagram? You can then share it on your own profile.
Be real. On a boat – or on a laptop – people rarely like Catfish. We all know that social media is responsible for Catfish – but the only ones we want to see are those with gills and fins! Again, it all comes back to being authentic. It can be tempting to embellish or brag, so make sure you stay true to your story.
However, social media isn’t the only place to share your experiences with customers. You can also write a report and update readers on the local fishing scene in your area. Not only will you get a temporary ranking boost on FishingBooker, but your report may also be featured on the home page. Some quick tips to make your review stand out:
- Include lots of pictures!
- Keep it short and sweet
- End with a call to action – basically, tell customers why they should fish with you
Pics and videos or it didn’t happen: where fishing and marketing meet
Fishing photos are what led me to the biggest, fastest, most competitive boats. I’ve had video cameras and SLRs since the Sony Mavica used floppy disks. Photos and videos really are the currency of our fishing experiences. They serve as punctuation for the stories that’ll stick with us for a lifetime.
I still have photos from my first ever experiences out on the water, as well as what I like to call “the best catch caught by my best catch” – when my wife hooked a Black Marlin. You have to stay in the game with your photo and video equipment if you ever hope to capture the magical moments.
Videos can give a personal touch to your business, if you choose to showcase yourself and your crew. They can also show customers exactly what a trip with you can look like. They set the expectation for the experience. However, not all photos are created equal – here’s how you can make sure yours really stand out.
Leaving the business behind: a former captain back in technology
Although we ultimately sold the business, boat, and its most successful asset – the website – I have less regrets than I can count on one hand. I got to enjoy the luxury of long days spent offshore, chasing Sailfish, Mahi, Grouper, Snapper, and a variety of other underwater critters – and the experience was extraordinary.
My role now is to continue building a community of aspiring and established captains who want to tell their stories, and anglers who want to experience unforgettable fishing trips. If you want to tell your charter story, share some fishing tales, or have any questions for me, feel free to leave a comment below. I look forward to hearing from you!
The post Standing out from the school: Marketing tips from a former charter captain appeared first on FishingBooker Blog.
By: Todd M.
Title: Standing out from the school: Marketing tips from a former charter captain
Sourced From: fishingbooker.com/blog/stand-out-from-school-charter-marketing/
Published Date: Mon, 06 Feb 2023 16:07:32 +0000