First Mate spends a lot of time at all the major boat shows. As a precursor to the shows, I do a lot of research online going into the show. Who will be there? What boats will be there? What is the brokers email who is selling boat "x"? Which of the three 50' Sea Rays listed is brokerage "y" going to have at the show? Sure, I am looking for potential clients, but every time I hit an information dead end I find myself asking, "What if I were a customer?". It is frustrating not to be able to find a brokers email, easily search all available listings, and well thought out photo albums.
I am barely old enough to remember a time before computers and the internet. This was the Age of Agents. Stacks of paper, brochures, photo copies, files, secretaries, and a Rolodex. The Agent was the gatekeeper to this highly centralized and authoritative source of information. The advent of the computer and internet changed this. Now almost anyone has access to more information then they know what to do with. I can look up the specifications for almost any boat produced in the last 10 years in under 10 seconds! The information has flooded out of the agent's office, and has repurposed the role of the agent in the sale.
There is good news and bad news in all if you are an agent and you love your job of selling boats.. The bad news is this, if you are a lazy broker, or want to try to be the gatekeeper of information, your clients will eventually figure it out (if they have not already). The good news is brokers can still be the definitive source of information. There is still a human element to it. Do customers get to talk to everyone on the docks or guys building the boats? Do customers always have time to read all the boating forums? The key for brokers going forward is to not be an information gatekeeper, but an information aggregater and filter. There is so much information available today, the hard task is to filter it and present it in the best possible way to meet a clients needs. The solution to remaining important to the sale is not to damn up the information, but to let a customer experience the flood of information and want someone to make sense of it all.
Tips to opening all the floodgates:
- Put your cell phone and email address on every listing possible! (info@FirstMateYachtCare.com). If you want the ability to disconnect be sure to look into a Google Voice phone number.
- Media. Media. Media. You are still one step below paid entertainment. Make looking at a listing online enjoyable instead of a chore.
- Engage and be active. It will not do you much good if you have a Twitter account and after a year have less than 100 followers and rarely tweet. If you want to be a trusted source of information, you have to be engaging with quality content.