How would you market a Charter Boat Fishing Service? (Offliners Advice Needed)

Profile picture of the author Charles Washington by Charles Washington Posted: 03/28/2010
I was talking to a local charter boat owner, and he is curious as to how to market his fishing Charters. He actually just bought the boat, and kept the exsisting captain and everything. So, he has an exisitng boat and small customer base.

His website sucks, so that needs to be priority number one. But I have other questions. I was thinking of social marketing, blogging, and video marketing.

This looks like a tough one for google local listings. They show over 1000 results for the local keyword. His current website is nowhere near near the first 25 pages of google. In fact, there arent even any meta tags.

What type of plan would you lay out? I have a few hundred existing customers, but only have phone numbers for them - no mail or email address.

Thanks
#advice #boat #charter #fishing #market #needed #offliners #service

  • Profile picture of the author Loren Woirhaye
    Loren Woirhaye
    Video, plus local keyword SEO - content site updated more often
    than the lazy competitor's.

    Oh - and make sure the packages he offers are attractive and
    it's very clear what people get for their money. Throw in
    bonuses where you can, especially ones where you can set the
    value arbitrarily.

    You could call all those customers and take a survey, then you
    develop offers around what the customer base wants.
  • Profile picture of the author Jessica Martinez
    Jessica Martinez
    Originally Posted by Loren Woirhaye View Post

    You could call all those customers and take a survey, then you
    develop offers around what the customer base wants.
    I would definitely use video. Let prospective customers see what it's really like to do a fishing charter with him. And, the survey idea that Loren gave you is a great one I think. You can also create an information product about fishing or fishing charters and create a squeeze page to start building him an email list.
  • Profile picture of the author Mark Riddle
    Mark Riddle
    Charles,

    I worked at the Lake of the Ozarks for the local small market station, we always would have fishing folks come in and want to know how to get more customers.

    I worked with one guy "Jim The Fishing Guru" I did have a website for him but that isn't the best source of business for him.

    The best is ole fashioned Press releases to newspapers and magazines.

    There are a ton of specialty fishing magazines for what ever fishing niche that your looking to take over.

    The real key is to understand the money in the fishing business is NOT the Boat and Guide Biz.

    It is in product sales and endorsements.

    If they are going fishin' they have to have a video of the trip, have to have some custom lures that work with the fish you're trying to catch.

    Private by mail tips letter that tells about the big one that DIDN'T get away.

    Sport fishing related travel and equipment.

    The fishermen with money have no problem with spending it.

    Mark Riddle
  • Profile picture of the author Jessica Martinez
    Jessica Martinez
    Originally Posted by Mark Riddle View Post

    Charles,

    I worked at the Lake of the Ozarks for the local small market station, we always would have fishing folks come in and want to know how to get more customers.

    I worked with one guy "Jim The Fishing Guru" I did have a website for him but that isn't the best source of business for him.

    The best is ole fashioned Press releases to newspapers and magazines.

    There are a ton of specialty fishing magazines for what ever fishing niche that your looking to take over.

    The real key is to understand the money in the fishing business is NOT the Boat and Guide Biz.

    It is in product sales and endorsements.

    If they are going fishin' they have to have a video of the trip, have to have some custom lures that work with the fish you're trying to catch.

    Private by mail tips letter that tells about the big one that DIDN'T get away.

    Sport fishing related travel and equipment.

    The fishermen with money have no problem with spending it.

    Mark Riddle
    I like your advice, Mark. It's all very good.
  • Profile picture of the author Mac the Knife
    Mac the Knife
    Offline businesses are perfect for Facebook Fan Pages. If you put up a fan page, and you include a high quality squeeze page as the welcome page, and TARGET fans (people both in the local area and in other areas that list FISHING or other similar keywords in profile) then the business can build a big mailing list to market to AND have an active fan page to keep the business on the minds of fans...offering special deals, trips, etc.

    I can help by getting you Warrior pricing on a fan page with video and opt-in capability as well as driving fans to it...pm me

    In addition to that, you can target prospects using local based keywords and articles that would help entice folks looking to charter a fishing trip

    Top 5 Things You Should Expect from a Quality Charter Fishing Outfit (etc)

    While you may be targeting locals, depending on where the charter is located, targeting vacationers from other areas can broaden the market spectrum. I live in Maryland, but I charter boats in Destin, Florida a few times a year for instance.

    Obviously, like you said, you want to get the website locked and loaded to be ready for Google...

    Good luck!

    Mac
  • Profile picture of the author Kelly Verge
    Kelly Verge
    First off, offshore charter fishing has taken a HUGE hit with the new Snapper regulations. There will be MANY that sell their boats and go out of business due to the extremely limited season.


    Know going in that you can't tackle that issue head-on.

    Here are a couple of suggestions that might help:

    • Find local sportsman groups where he can give seminars on catching certain types of fish. If his expertise becomes more known locally, he'll pick up referral business.
    • He can market his service specifically for tighter niches. For example, if his boat would work for Cobia fishing, he needs to hit that hard now. He can advertise Grouper trips, Shark trips, blue-water sport fishing, and even dive trips if his boat and deck hands can handle that.
    • If he can handle dive trips, he can build relationships with local dive shops. Even if not, he could work with the larger tackle shops to run the seminars above.
    • Online, use testimonial videos to promote his charter. YouTube videos tend to rank very highly, so go ahead and target the tougher keywords. The videos would also help on Facebook.

    These are just off the top of my head. Good luck with his business!


    -K
  • Profile picture of the author Jay F
    Jay F
    Build his email list. Both from the website and before anyone steps on to the boat.

    Send the list a weekly fishing report. My Dad does this just with his friends and that gets them very excited to go out every weekend.
  • Profile picture of the author Charles Washington
    Charles Washington
    Originally Posted by Kelly Verge View Post

    First off, offshore charter fishing has taken a HUGE hit with the new Snapper regulations. There will be MANY that sell their boats and go out of business due to the extremely limited season.


    Know going in that you can't tackle that issue head-on.

    Here are a couple of suggestions that might help:

    • Find local sportsman groups where he can give seminars on catching certain types of fish. If his expertise becomes more known locally, he'll pick up referral business.
    • He can market his service specifically for tighter niches. For example, if his boat would work for Cobia fishing, he needs to hit that hard now. He can advertise Grouper trips, Shark trips, blue-water sport fishing, and even dive trips if his boat and deck hands can handle that.
    • If he can handle dive trips, he can build relationships with local dive shops. Even if not, he could work with the larger tackle shops to run the seminars above.
    • Online, use testimonial videos to promote his charter. YouTube videos tend to rank very highly, so go ahead and target the tougher keywords. The videos would also help on Facebook.
    These are just off the top of my head. Good luck with his business!


    -K
    You are right! You must live on the Gulf Coast of Fl. He actually bought this boat because the previous owner was going under due to the new snapper regulations. This boat is big enough to do 18-24 hour trips, and is equipped for big game fishing, not just snsapper fishing.

    I think it has big potential.

    Thanks
  • Profile picture of the author aa411853
    aa411853
    Well the best advice is for the captain to go out and catch some big fish, and then have all the customers tell all their friends. LOL
  • Profile picture of the author jwellsy
    jwellsy
    Most charter fishing is booked at trade shows. That's just a fact of life. People going to fishing shows are going to spend their money somewhere. If he doesn't have a consistent presence at the shows and events he will have a much tuffer time filling his schedule.

    If it's a really nice boat that can do overnight trips, he could market himself as the CEU Captain. Yes, the Continuing Education Unit Captain or Charter. Use the acronym of your choice CEU, PDU, CEC or whatever. The point is many professions require continuing education and they are always looking for cool ways to earn their credits. Your guy to market to continuing education facilitators. If the facilitator books 6 students then his trip is free. They can have their meetings during the transit times. Big time corporate money gets spent on this kind of thing every year.

    As an avid fisherman myself, something that would really impress me on a website would be some screen captures of his fish finders showing his favorite structures that he likes to fish. his would help make a personal connection to website visitors.
  • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
    JohnMcCabe
    If you check your keyword research, you'll find that one of the best in terms of searches to competition ratio is fishing reports. If I'm planning to book a charter and spend several hundred to a couple of thousand dollars, I want to know what's biting and what I'm likely to catch. Dependable, regular reports are a great way to let potential charters know that a) you regularly put clients on fish and b) you're still in business.

    Edit: Reports also make perfect fodder for FB fan pages, Twitter tweets, etc.

    In spite of the screwed up snapper and grouper seasons (don't get me started), there are a lot of fish still available. In between the big-buck deep sea charters, a boat can help cash flow by running "mini-headboat" type charters. Six anglers, a day trip to a nearby reef, and bottom fishing for legal reef fish like grunts, hogfish, porgies, etc. which pull a bit for their size and taste good on a plate. Or a trip for something amberjack, which will put a hurt on you. If your market is anything like it is here, you can charge about a 50% premium for seats on these charters.

    @jwellsy, I'd love screen shots showing favorite structures, but I seriously doubt you'll ever see them. Most charter captains would rather give you their teenage daughter than their book of coordinates (only a slight exaggeration). One of the boats I favor has spent a lot of years building his book. He has a sign that looks you in the face as you board warning against bringing GPS units on board -- seems they don't function well under 60'-90' of seawater...
  • Profile picture of the author Maria Gudelis
    Maria Gudelis
    This is a 'event' type of business - people go for the fun, the love, the escape, the event...

    What is hot right now

    ...and my recent offer is going to showcase a live case study on it - see sig below

    Is the combination of facebook fan page + contest tab in the facebook fanpage....our consulting firm added a mobile text aspect to it as well that just juiced up the 'event/talk' even more...

    a GREAT reason to call the past customers - hey we're having a contest

    all you have to do right now is go to facebook.com/xyzfishing or name the fanpage a longtail keyword...(note - the SEO gurus' will not agree...but heck - then do both! - I think a easy to remember fanpage is better than a longtail keyword one..

    or you buy a domain and redirect it to that fanpage...

    then you phone past 'patrons' - tell them about the contest, do a press release on it - and yes - a fishing specialty magazine/etc. put a ad in their...do social media on it...

    and voila - you've driven a SWARM of customers and prospects to this guys' business!

    Cheers, Maria
  • Profile picture of the author Allen Graves
    Allen Graves
    Is it fresh? salt? flats? river?

    What area? Gulf Coast? Carolinas? Atlantic? Pacific?

    Video and photos will definitely be a necessity once the visitors get to the page - you want to show prize fish caught with the boat or the captian or the deck sign in the background.

    Are his prices reasonable? More expensive? Cheaper?

    There are ways to get some website traffic pretty quick, but you need to keep in mind that a slow and steady SEO campaign will be the best in the long run. Black-hat methods will be your demise. Quality, steady offpage SEO will build a nice stream of clients in the long run.

    Allen
  • Profile picture of the author MisterMunch
    MisterMunch
    If you have a keyword with so many competitors, it is possible to change keyword.

    Your keyword might be fishing charter, but it might as well be fishing experience or fishing adventure. You have to do the research and figure out what might work.

    A Youtube reality show might also work. Think american chopper or those crab fishers. (does not have to be that advanced)
  • Profile picture of the author jwellsy
    jwellsy
    Originally Posted by JohnMcCabe View Post


    @jwellsy, I'd love screen shots showing favorite structures, but I seriously doubt you'll ever see them. Most charter captains would rather give you their teenage daughter than their book of coordinates (only a slight exaggeration). One of the boats I favor has spent a lot of years building his book. He has a sign that looks you in the face as you board warning against bringing GPS units on board -- seems they don't function well under 60'-90' of seawater...
    I agree that you wouldn't want to show GPS coordinates or the radio frequency that your circle of friendly competitor guides use. But, think just how powerful those structure images would be to spark the imagination of visitors, even if the images were scrubbed of any location info.

    If I was evaluating 10 guides and only one could show me some world class structure, that would be the one I want to talk to. To me that's better proof that he knows what he's talking about than pictures of fish held out at arms length.

    Even generic pictures of structure can spark a conversation.
  • Profile picture of the author Charles Washington
    Charles Washington
    Originally Posted by JohnMcCabe View Post

    @jwellsy, I'd love screen shots showing favorite structures, but I seriously doubt you'll ever see them. Most charter captains would rather give you their teenage daughter than their book of coordinates (only a slight exaggeration). One of the boats I favor has spent a lot of years building his book. He has a sign that looks you in the face as you board warning against bringing GPS units on board -- seems they don't function well under 60'-90' of seawater...
    The guy that bought the boat asked my wife to create a database of the past customers. That is how I know he needs some marketing help. But, he was also going to give her the GPS coord. of all his private reefs. He knows I fish (allbeit from a kayak), so he wouldnt give her those files out of fear I would have seen them.
  • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
    JohnMcCabe
    Originally Posted by jwellsy View Post

    If I was evaluating 10 guides and only one could show me some world class structure, that would be the one I want to talk to. To me that's better proof that he knows what he's talking about than pictures of fish held out at arms length.
    I'll buy that -- IF the structure shots are accompanied by some commentary on the general location ("about 10 miles offshore" is close enough) and what the structure means ("that hump you see is an old wreck and the clouds around it are baitfish"), along with what they catch ("in the fall we catch a bunch of barracuda and tuna...").

    Couple that with some trophy pics, and you have a very convincing argument for a booking.
  • Profile picture of the author The Copy Nazi
    The Copy Nazi
    Have a look what I've done for my client here. He runs Luxury Charters and boat cruises on Sydney Harbour and The Great Barrier Reef and is killing it. Note the use of boat walk-through Virtual Reality clips and video clips. Sydney Harbour Cruises with Flagship luxury boat hire & corporate charters

    This video got us to the top of Google for the keywords -

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