Good dive brands determines what marketing strategy will benefit the most for business, providing access to the professional and dive assets at the right time. Great dive brands is able to negotiate and consolidate right contracts for the best deals, and measuring and analyzing results to ensure ROI (Rate/Return of Investment) It’s not been an easy term for most professional divers but it is a must from now
...yes, you heard it right…
Professional divers need to be dead serious about their brand, not just diving.
My previous article on the same topic debates on what’s going on with dive agencies what would likely still be going on in dive business. Arguably nothing we could do much on changes, but we could prevent ourselves from being free descending.
So what would we do?
We’re entering a new era of digital transformation where creating value for the customer and transforming the customer experience has become vital for growth. Technology is changing how we market. Brand building without accountability is over.
If ones arriving on Koh Tao hadn’t done research on dive agencies, lots of signs, flags and posters would mean absolutely nothing to them ( as it does mean nothing to them now) Ones on that busy pier would only be interested to their hotel names, what kind of diving to do, where to learn to become professional with someone or somewhere, and that would mostly be all. Dive agency identity; for many soon-to-be-professionals, do not have a clear beginning and certainly do not have the definite end. For occasional certified divers, it literally means even less and less significance.
From branding perspectives; if you take dive industry as “sport” We need a few elements to complement a success; the Fans; the Socials; the Management; and the Culture.
..Let’s see what we have (or we don’t have) ?
The popularity and size of dive industry have been growing. We, however do not have privilege as other team sport for the thing we call “Loyalty”. More people have more positive thinking through dive brands which are the economic benefits of sticking (or trying) with them rather than a good-fun-to-be-with. Fan involvement is one of the key drivers for a good relationship between dive shops and their customers, even if it is mostly casual . Social media is a key, we all know that. But this is not always the case of awareness for old-school professionals.
Customer experiences and behaviors attached with the strong brand are constructed from a basis of trust which comes from experience. Some do take this for granted by conflicting customer relationship management with chit-chat course or equipment selling, some even grasp the business of brand as a one-off subject. Customers for dive brand tend to express their behaviors towards what they support to and towards their actions and activities that are highly accepted by their peer-group. Yes, everyone may know that. But again they just can’t climb the rising wall alone.
Of course creating brand commitment is one ingredient, but in this era you simply cannot force consumer to pay tribute to your brand once and for all. The experiences of fans means other thing too. Those are; socializing, shopping, eating, drinking and traveling, not essentially diving. The impact of great social communication is not on one single platform or a few dive-related interests but rather when divers experience the sense of celebration for others in those context.
Activities need to make them feel that they create positive sentiments with which encourage economic value of the occasions they choose with their own. If you are an instructor, Working attitude and Creativity are top key indicators of your dive brand competences. In the old days, it may have been instructor as a one-man brand trait. To a greater or lesser extent, those heroism leadership theory have long gone. People choose the brand, not the person who leads it.
Dive industry has grown based on somewhat superficial education on in-depth management. Well..we all learnt about ‘management’ from our masters and our agencies, nevertheless continuing management education has been something of a hiccup throughout the entire career of most dive instructors and even business owner. We just thought dive-related practical training would answer it all. There have been failures in the past, present and perhaps in the future because diving has been considered with less concerns and unfairly treated importance compared to leisure and tourism industries. We have been deemed as one part of them, not the leading head.
There is no real management is dive business. Most Instructors (or operators) take ad-hoc roles to run business and the brand as one-man-fit-all. Some conceptualizes their brands vaguely into dive activities and management. Essentially, there should be instructors, dive masters, marketers, admin, consultants (tax, legal and the list just keeps on going). Remember, it’s not about the money you have to spend. Rather it's the money you would be saving at the end of tax year. You also need lots of help to manage with digital power. Some big agencies do try to provide this personal or professional management as a support, but it is an unfortunate fact that less people would understand their intentions.
We do dive, still. Yet, who many know if is it for pleasures, occasional or professional?
If you can’t measure your brand culture and brand environment as such (based on what you fans are up to) then you can’t justify it. Sponsorship, brand ambassadors, and professional endorsements are something in and should be correctly utilized, maximized, or reduced, or even eliminated with the marketing strategy and the measurement of what is actually surrounded your dive business. Massive change is coming and no brands are on to something effectively, at least until you understand it thoroughly.
I myself enjoy some close relationships with dive brands, instructors at all level, and now it put me in an unexpected position to guide corporate dive-related business to leveraging full or fractional access to appropriate personal and professional figures and assets to build their brands through different appearances, events, local and national promotions, and digital content creating. That is not because of I want to be good at it but it's rather the fact that the Culture has infused me into it (part for which I slowly accept).
The Culture takes a more holistic approach when it comes to marketing. Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things and not just for being used, rather being well understood and exploited. We live in a new world (I will keep saying this and do will other), and this new world do not wait for your to jump into like what lies beneath the ocean.
The new world are coming onto your business; helping or ruining ?
.. it is totally your own call.
The Author is a Specialist Sport Marketing and Media Consultant for Ministry of Finance and Fiscal Policy, Royal Thai Government
(ผู้เขียนเป็นที่ปรึกษาผู้เชี่ยวชาญระดับ ก. (ธุรกิจ การตลาด สื่อกีฬา), กระทรวงการคลัง)