Old Dog – New Tricks –
by Gene Muchanski
Editor, The Dive Industry Professional
It’s August now. This is when the entire diving industry starts getting ready for the DEMA Show. Basically. The show starts just 98 Days from today, which means that we have 98 days of do our pre-show marketing. That will be followed by 4 Days of at-show marketing and then 45 Days of post-show follow-up, minus 3 days for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. Most of us in the industry know this by heart because we are the “Old Dogs” in the business and this is definitely not our first Rodeo. But even Old Dogs lose their usefulness unless they can learn New Tricks.
What prompted this month’s editorial topic was an email I received from a dear friend in the diving industry who was writing about many negative things happening in his business. He talked about his sales being down by 10-15%, students not buying gear, smaller margins on equipment, boat dive attendance being lower, new divers not making equipment purchases, older dives not wanting to do local dives, and of course, the internet and internet sales. My heart went out to this Old Dog because it seems that his business and his enthusiasm for the business of diving has gone to poo. Then I compared him to four other Old Dogs I know who are ruffly the same age he is. It hit me like a ton of bricks. They are the same age, have the same experience, are in the same industry, and doing business in the same economy. The things that are different about them is they learned new things along the way, they changed with the times, they grew and now they are succeeding in today’s industry. Old Dogs – New Tricks.
History tells us that things always change. You wouldn’t think of fighting new wars with the old weapons of the past. Why would you use old business tools to engage in today’s business environment? In Jon Acuff’s book, Start, the author talks about the five stages on the road to awesome. In our 20’s we are Learning. In our 30’s we are Editing what we know. In our 40’s we are Mastering our skills. In our 50’s we are Harvesting what we have planted and in our 60’s we are Guiding others to walk down the path we have already been on. I read that 6 years ago and have seen this focus work in my life. I learned that you find the Fountain of Youth by going back to your 20’s and learning new things. That is what keeps you young, renewed and alive.
Now I am taking Jon’s five steps and putting them into the accelerated and compressed time frame of the present day business environment. I discovered that all five stages still happen one at a time, but within a compressed time frame. Every time I face a business challenge, I learn a new skill to solve it (Learn), make it work for me in my industry (Edit), and then keep doing it until I Master the technique (Master). Those three steps help me to overcome the challenge and make it into a financially successful opportunity that I can then pass along (Guiding) to my peers. I may not know many new things intuitively, but with a book, some practice, editing and refining I can learn new tricks.
Time is a cruel companion. It can be a great Teacher but always wants to take the upper hand. Well, I prefer to be the Master of Time instead of its Whipping Boy. As we grow older and hopefully wiser, things should become clearer and more focused for us. If we learn to maximize our individual strengths and minimize our weaknesses, we can accomplish more with less effort. This happens all the time now.
As an example, two weeks ago we went on a FAM Trip to Belize. It was a cooperative effort to bring Buyers and Sellers of dive equipment, training and travel together. Our Association worked with a Travel Wholesaler to bring a group of Retail Travel Specialists to a new Dive Resort while we introduced everyone to a new group of equipment manufacturers and service providers. We got an excellent deal for the trip, offered it to seasoned travel buyers, included a companion option in the package, raised over $7,000 in Gift Bags items and presented our participants with the best SWAG Gift Bag I’ve seen in our industry. We met new Buyers and introduced new Sellers. We launched a pre-trip, on-trip and post-trip marketing campaign and I can tell you that all of us got a much bigger bang for our buck than other FAM Trips. And we learned a few things along the way. Next FAM Trip will be even better.
This recent new campaign added another component to a business model we have been working on this year. The components are: 1) Focusing on the sale of dive equipment, training and travel. 2) Working to bring Buyers and Sellers together. 3) Getting the industry and the consuming public to focus on; a) Learning to Dive b) Buying their Gear c) Going Diving and d) Staying Active. 4) Working together by integrating sales and marketing techniques among all business entities within a specific “Chanel of Distribution.”
Membership in an active Association has its privileges. Working within a Network has its advantages. Going it alone, with “your own thing”, is so 20th Century thinking. Remember that doing what you’ve always done, will always get you what you got. Or worse, doing what you’ve done in the past, may not even work any more. Welcome to the 21st Century. Let’s work together.
For more information on working with a 21st Century Member-Centric Association, contact:
Gene Muchanski, Executive Director
Dive Industry Association, Inc.