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Old 05-30-2016, 07:12 PM   #1
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Manufacturers websites...

A little criticism here. As a couple who have been in the market for a new boat I feel a little bit "let down"...
This is the year 2016! We are contemplating spending a ton of money on a boat... Wouldn't you thing a manufacturer would do their best to get their product up to date and online?
I can pick on any manufacturer that we have considered too! Sabre, Nordic Tugs, and the boat we ultimately decided upon all have what I'd consider minimal web exposure. They are each and every one there, but...
Take Nordic Tugs for example. They have had their 40' tug on the drawing boards for more than a year now (we spoke to Cory in CT last year before the local trawler fest and he acknowledged its existence then!) and in fact they have delivered a number of the 40' hulls but the website has few pictures of the project! They use mostly pictures of the 39' and say "photos of the Nordic Tugs 40 will be available soon..." How difficult can it be to get some pictures up?

It is not just Nordic either. Sabre is building lots of boats and by all accounts very busy. Their website is better but still minimally informative, imho.

Wouldn't you think that a company would try to maximize the online presence of their product?

Curious...
Bruce
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Old 05-30-2016, 07:30 PM   #2
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I think it's foolish not to take advantage of a good website. However, there is also the marketing principle of giving you just enough to get you to go to the dealership where you can be seduced, qualified, and sold. I'm not an impulse buyer, but a lot of boats are sold that way.

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Old 05-30-2016, 07:38 PM   #3
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I think it's foolish not to take advantage of a good website. However, there is also the marketing principle of giving you just enough to get you to go to the dealership where you can be seduced, qualified, and sold. I'm not an impulse buyer, but a lot of boats are sold that way.

Ted
We didn't exactly make our decision on impulse (not that you are accusing me of that)... I have been looking at trawlers for years now, mostly online...
We'd never have found the boat we decided on if I hadn't noticed one at out marina... The AT website did nothing at all to bring us to the table!
There has to be something wrong with that...
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Old 05-31-2016, 04:45 AM   #4
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I noticed that about the Krogen Express site. They only have one model, which runs about 1.6 million a pop, so you'd expect their site to be pretty sweet, but it really isn't. Same for Kadey Krogen. You get more pictures on yacht world.
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Old 05-31-2016, 05:47 AM   #5
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"How difficult can it be to get some pictures up?"

Quite , When you sell your old bucket most any photo from a phone will do.

When a Mfg sells,, the same photos will probably be in mags and in a print brochure.

Huge difference in quality is required.
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Old 05-31-2016, 06:37 AM   #6
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"How difficult can it be to get some pictures up?"

Quite , When you sell your old bucket most any photo from a phone will do.

When a Mfg sells,, the same photos will probably be in mags and in a print brochure.

Huge difference in quality is required.
I will respectfully disagree with this position.
The pictures of many of the boats on these sites are less than professional grade in the first place!
We aren't talking Onne van der Wal quality photos and I've seen his work up close as North Sails used him to photograph our last boat for one of their ad campaigns...its been in magazines.
I'm just talking about a basic web presence...where the boat you introduced a year ago has some actual real information about it on your web site. I'd be satisfied with even a Facebook presence of cellphone pictures...
Save the photo shoot for something big.
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Old 05-31-2016, 07:30 AM   #7
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I agree with you. I think you are seeing some combination of two things;

1) Poor attention to detail. Many boat builders (perhaps most trawler builders) are fundamentally small businesses and not "professionally" run. They don't understand the benefit and/or have the staff to make the web site a priority.

2) Tension with their sales channel. Sales people want leads - people they can dig their claws into to make a sale - any sale. Once they have made contact with you they will want to be your broker for whatever boat you buy regardless of brand. I've know many sales guys who hate having "too much" info available online. They want interested people to have to contact them so they can work their snake oil dance. I expect dealers pressure builders to put up just enough info to get the interested party to contact the dealer......
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Old 05-31-2016, 07:59 AM   #8
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I agree with you. I think you are seeing some combination of two things;

1) Poor attention to detail. Many boat builders (perhaps most trawler builders) are fundamentally small businesses and not "professionally" run. They don't understand the benefit and/or have the staff to make the web site a priority.

2) Tension with their sales channel. Sales people want leads - people they can dig their claws into to make a sale - any sale. Once they have made contact with you they will want to be your broker for whatever boat you buy regardless of brand. I've know many sales guys who hate having "too much" info available online. They want interested people to have to contact them so they can work their snake oil dance. I expect dealers pressure builders to put up just enough info to get the interested party to contact the dealer......
Wow...
I understand the first point. Web sites are a lot of work and they don't exactly contribute to the effort of getting the boat built and out the door in the short run. Maybe there are enough sales of boats and people waiting for product that the effort isn't necessary.

The second point... I'm not sure what to say about this. You may be correct but it is a depressing thought! I personally go out of my way to find answers without invoking the salesperson so clearly I've had similar musings.

I still believe that some more information with some brand building would be beneficial to most of the sites. We aren't talking about purchasing a drill on Amazon here, this is a big deal, expensive purchase.

Interesting...
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Old 05-31-2016, 09:09 AM   #9
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Advertising (which is what all websites are) is designed to initiate a response. Look at the Google AdSense ads on this website. Click on a few and unless it's an E-marketing enterprise the website will be similar, just enough information to send you seeking more if your truly interested.

You "might" sell a new Carolla online(highly doubtful) but you definitely are not selling a Ferrari without a salesman. Helmsman trawlers is the only manufacturer I'm aware of that posts base prices online. Most companies have a website because they feel it is expected of them, not because it actually sells anything.
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Old 05-31-2016, 09:47 AM   #10
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Advertising (which is what all websites are) is designed to initiate a response. Look at the Google AdSense ads on this website. Click on a few and unless it's an E-marketing enterprise the website will be similar, just enough information to send you seeking more if your truly interested.

You "might" sell a new Carolla online(highly doubtful) but you definitely are not selling a Ferrari without a salesman. Helmsman trawlers is the only manufacturer I'm aware of that posts base prices online. Most companies have a website because they feel it is expected of them, not because it actually sells anything.
Have you shopped for a new boat lately? I have twice in my life and to suggest that an online presence is not important is beyond my understanding! Long before I speak to a salesman, I've begun researching my subject. When a company doesn't have a decent online presence, I begin searching forums...
That can't be controlled and in fact led us to look elsewhere in our current purchase.
I understand that a salesman closes a deal but you have to take advantage of the Internet before it takes advantage of you!
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Old 05-31-2016, 10:11 AM   #11
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Failure to build and maintain high quality websites is true for many businesses across all industries. For some, it's the cost they are fearful of, although it doesn't have to be that costly. For others, it's just they fail to see the importance.

My biggest criticism of web sites in general is keeping them up to date. I go to a web site and they have a "Latest News" page and the most current item is 2012. So, nothing has happened for 4 years?

On boat sites, lack of complete specifications, layouts, and photos are all annoying. The good sites have virtual tours. They are not that difficult or expensive now. I wish they'd show standard equipment and options available. Still specifications are my pet peeve. Why do fewer than 10% show air draft or bridge clearance? Even with European builders, CE Category is not shown on the vast majority.

We're of the online shopping generation. We research online. Our first chance to see the professionalism of a builder is through their web site.
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Old 05-31-2016, 10:21 AM   #12
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Wow...
I understand the first point. Web sites are a lot of work and they don't exactly contribute to the effort of getting the boat built and out the door in the short run. Maybe there are enough sales of boats and people waiting for product that the effort isn't necessary.

The second point... I'm not sure what to say about this. You may be correct but it is a depressing thought! I personally go out of my way to find answers without invoking the salesperson so clearly I've had similar musings.

I still believe that some more information with some brand building would be beneficial to most of the sites. We aren't talking about purchasing a drill on Amazon here, this is a big deal, expensive purchase.

Interesting...
Bruce

My point #2 is not meant to be an endorsement of that approach. It's just reporting the reality that I have seen in sales channels for large ticket items where a commissioned sales person is involved.

I agree with you 100% about the importance of a web site in selling products. The kinds of boats we are talking about will never be click-to-buy, but the whole process of educating a customer and getting them to fall in love with your product can be hugely facilitated by a good web presence. With all kinds of products in all price ranges, I very quickly lose interest when I can't get good info on a product, and focus my attention on products that I can learn more about.

Another selling angle is that many high-ticket items are life-style sales. You are selling someone on an image, fashion statement, or the like. It has nothing to do with boating. Those web sites typical show lots of happy people doing happy things and looking beautify while they do it. I always expect some of that, but when it's all I can get, I move on. A walk around the Ft Lauderdale Boat show will reveal quite a bit of that.
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Old 05-31-2016, 12:41 PM   #13
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This weekend I was working on little things here and there and noticed one of the cabinet latches in the master cabin was broken. Southco, C3-803. Standing at the cabinet I placed the order for a replacement latch on my phone in about 90 seconds. I just do a little more than think of something and it can be in my mailbox in a couple days. Now of course shopping for a whole boat is a different exercise entirely, but still - it's a different world now and if any builder thinks poor websites don't hurt sales, they're insane.

(In contrast I need a cover for our dingy - a zodiac zoom 260. That took some significant surfing and time, got kind of annoying, but I'll go with the website that offers the clearest, easiest, most precise search and match to that model. Websites matter, little purchases or a whole boat, and I don't care if the buyer is 30 or 60 any more.)
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Old 05-31-2016, 01:13 PM   #14
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Another boat website pet peeve. I strongly dislike the ones that require registration to get an online brochure. I don't want to register. I don't want to talk to a salesman or receive sales emails. I'm looking. Don't make it hard. If you force me to register, then not only does it annoy me, but it's going to cost you time and effort as the information will all be made up, the phone number wrong, and the email will go to an account I have set up just for that, one that I never read any emails to.

I want to look in peace. I want to have a chance to analyze and to digest what I see. I want to compare. The time will come that builders will even have the prices online. A very small number do today. They have base price and accessory prices. In the under 30' market that's become the norm. Those sites often have "build your boat" features. Sea Ray has it. Cobalt has it. It is so useful to get a chance to compare and also to look at all the options and decide if they're worth the price. If you want to see a site that I think is the way I'd like to see more then go to Cobalt Boats - Compromise Nothing. Here's a model specific link. Cobalt Boats - Our Boats - 336

You have photos, videos, specifications, a virtual tour, power choices, a list of standard equipment, optional equipment and "design your dream." Once in there I can compare 8 engine options and know the price difference between them. I can see the price of all options.

All customers like to work differently. There are many who prefer doing it all face to face with a builder's representative. But there are those like us who prefer to look online at our leisure with no sales person, and then when we're getting close perhaps contact with questions, but only deal directly with the builder when we're ready to buy. The builder with a poor website turns us off.

And one last thought to merchants. Don't assume people of certain ages aren't internet savvy. They're Amazon and Ebay shoppers. They order meals online. Where they can, they buy groceries online. Don't assume either that people spending large amounts of money on a new boat want face to face and don't want to waste time online. They're sitting in airports with their laptops. They're commuting by rail with their tablets. Their time is valuable and limited but that makes web even better as they can do that at their convenience. They may be traveling and in a hotel at night 2000 miles from home. They do a little work. Turn tv on. Then go online to look at boats. Websites work 24/7/365.
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Old 05-31-2016, 02:34 PM   #15
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Cutting to the chase, websites may be best for tire kickers. Once a buyer for a new sizeable boat is serious, the boat is built on paper and cost then estimated. For those that have been through this process, the necessary details are very individualistic and don't lend themselves to a one size fits all sales website.

Bruce, when you queried about ATs a few weeks ago I was amazed at the online data, no shortage for my eyes of general sales and pictures stuff. Possibly for me it was easier as I've been through the AT factory and had a few details already in mind.

As several have correctly stated already, the builders are sending out teasers, whether at boat shows or online.
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Old 05-31-2016, 02:56 PM   #16
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With today's technology, and with the relative low cost of that technology, there is no excuse for having an top flight website. As an example, KK does have a 360 degree virtual tour of the 58. It is pretty cool and does allow one to get a really good feel for the boat and its layout. They should have one for each of their models.

I understand the idea of a "teaser" or using the website just to personal info on potential leads, but, as several have noted, a $1M+ boat is generally not an impulse purchase. Most people buying in that, and higher, ranges, send a lot of time and effort on research and just online browsing. I would think companies, no matter their size, would want to take advantage of every opportunity to present their product in the most appealing and complete light possible.

In terms of cost, a website is a very small piece of a marketing budget. For a KK or Nord size company, a state of the art site, including photography and video costs, could probably be built from scratch for $100-150K. If properly designed, maintenance would be under $1k a month even using an outside vendor. A paltry amount when you are selling multi-million $$ boats.
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Old 05-31-2016, 03:56 PM   #17
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I understand the idea of a "teaser" or using the website just to personal info on potential leads, but, as several have noted, a $1M+ boat is generally not an impulse purchase. Most people buying in that, and higher, ranges, send a lot of time and effort on research and just online browsing. I would think companies, no matter their size, would want to take advantage of every opportunity to present their product in the most appealing and complete light possible.
There are hundreds, even thousands, of boat brands. I think a good percentage of people use the internet to narrow their interest down to a manageable number of brands. My wife and I spent hundreds of hours learning everything we could through everything from Builder web sites to forums to search for litigation to YW to online review sites. For various purposes you start eliminating too by things like draft, galley in wrong location, wrong anchor (ok, that was not meant to be serious), appearance, range, speed. I'd then key information into a spreadsheet on which I listed all key numbers but also what we thought about each area and room of the boat. Very few websites had performance charts so most of those came from review and test sites. Range at cruise is nice or at a couple of speeds, but sure would help to know at all speeds what the fuel usage is. A couple of builders had no information on range at any speed. Air draft/bridge clearance was rare to find.

Our searches have always ended up very focused once we've done the research and much of that research online.

One last website comment. Web developers who don't test in all browsers and from different hardware. I've seen some all flash websites that if you tried to look at with an iPad, you had nothing to see. I was on a site the other day that using Chrome I could not get it to work. Had to switch to ME but many users would not have done that. And recognize that while loading might be easy on a desktop with 16 GB of memory, it might be something we'd give up on using a tablet or a phone.
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Old 05-31-2016, 05:00 PM   #18
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Cutting to the chase, websites may be best for tire kickers. Once a buyer for a new sizeable boat is serious, the boat is built on paper and cost then estimated. For those that have been through this process, the necessary details are very individualistic and don't lend themselves to a one size fits all sales website.
I think there is a lot to this. New boats aren't the same as used boats. A new boat can be configured almost however the new owner wants it to be. So for a manufacturer, a new model may simply not have a lot of photos of the various options and pricing is going to be all over the map.

FWIW, when I was first looking at buying my boat (not new obviously) I did check out the new North Pacific 45 (too bad a new boat wasn't a financial possibility). I found that the information provided was good, but to get pricing information I had to email NPY. Once I did that, I got the pricing for NW delivery and option pricing within a couple days.
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Old 05-31-2016, 07:58 PM   #19
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I found that the information provided was good, but to get pricing information I had to email NPY. Once I did that, I got the pricing for NW delivery and option pricing within a couple days.
If it was available to email to you, then it could have been on the site. The pricing is so key to the decisions. You would know that there were many changes that could impact it and also know there might be some negotiation. Many say they don't disclose because they don't want the competition to have it. The competition already has it. They got it just like you did. When I was in the Corporate world, I had the updated price lists of my competitors within less than a day of them announcing changes and they had the same from us. Salesmen share with other salesmen.

Have any of you been into furniture stores or antique stores or even art stores where nothing was priced? That makes me so uncomfortable as if it's take advantage of the customer day or a practice of giving different customers different prices.

I know to most people it's not an issue and it's not a major one to me. Just something that I'd prefer. Not something I must have. Good photos and virtual tours are must have.
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Old 05-31-2016, 08:11 PM   #20
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Sabre does the virtual tour thing and I find it very helpful.
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