Marine Retail University declared a first-year hit
Year one of the Marine Retail University is in the books, and with both dealer attendance and engagement high, it was considered a success by its two hosts: Dominion Marine Media and the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas.
Although it was a success in terms of attendance, MRAA President Matt Gruhn was even more pleased with the dealer participation, which he says was key to success in year one.
“It’s not a situation where somebody speaks, everyone listens and then you move on to the next one,” Gruhn said. “There has been lots of questions, and that is phenomenal.”
Gruhn said the engagement is a result of the presentations being focused on to the local dealers’ regions, with Statistical Surveys presenting data specific to their territory and subsequent sales and dealer performance presentations tailored to their customer base.
Courtney Chalmers, director of marketing for Dominion Marine Media, said one of the biggest surprises for her in the first year was just how different each region was.
“We tend to offer marine dealers a one-size-fits-all solution to their business needs, and though that approach does suffice in many cases, it’s been valuable to provide more targeted and relevant training,” Chalmers said.
The ability to embrace that diversity and localize the program was in part thanks to the regional trade associations that partnered with MRU at each of the four stops.
Chalmers said working with these trade associations to plan each program and the insight they provided was key in identifying their dealer member needs.
Gruhn said these regional associations also brought validity to the program in its first year.
“[Dealers] were not yet familiar with MRU and what it has to offer,” Gruhn said. “The association can reach out and recommend it to them and tell them why they should attend.”
In 2013, Gruhn said the plan is to have six to eight events, two of which are already scheduled. The first will be held in Brockton, Mass., on Jan. 23, while an event not yet finalized will be held in Albany, N.Y.
For regional associations new to MRU, the program will have the same format as those held in 2012, featuring macro information provided by GE, localized info from Statistical Surveys and marketing presentations, like one offered by Dominion Marine Media. The program will be different for returning associations.
Sponsored by Norman-Spencer Marine Insurance Agency, MRU made stops in Texas, Florida, Michigan and recently concluded its 2012 season in Portland, Maine.
Boating Industry is the official media sponsor of Marine Retail University.