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An interview with a past MRAA conference attendee

Meet Laura Ponder of Captain's Marine. A first time conference attendee and newcomer in the marine industry.



1. Leading up to the conference, what would you say “Your Story” was? For example: why did you want to attend the conference and what brought you to apply? Leading up to the conference, I was extremely new to the boating world. Only being a few months in, I was constantly seeking information and knowledge to be a better marketer in the industry. My boss Randell came to my office and told me that I should apply for the scholarship opportunity that the MRAA and Soundings Trade Only were offering. I pondered this for a few days, feeling discouraged as I had never won anything, what would the odds be? I didn’t want to submit the application, get my hopes up, and not be able to attend if I didn’t win. The stakes were high, but I bit the bullet and submitted my application the night it was due. After 5 months of constant internet scouring, article and book reading, and mentor seeking, here it was, an incredible learning experience right at my fingertips. To say I was ecstatic when I found out I won would be a gross understatement. *We can confirm ... she was in shock and so excited.


2. How did you get into the marine industry, what is your position currently and what are your day-to-day roles? I got into the marine industry quite unexpectedly. There was a job position for a marketing director, so I applied hoping that my lack of boating experience would not be problematic. Randell took a chance on me and I realized that all I could do was try my hardest at marketing a lifestyle I was unfamiliar with, and hope for the best. I ended up falling in love with the industry along the way. I am currently the Director of Marketing for Captain’s Marine. My day-to-day roles include creating content for, and running our Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Website, as well as Print, Radio and TV advertisements. I also ensure the showroom is aesthetically pleasing, order marketing materials, and assist with title work and other sale documents.


3. What would you say are your dealership’s greatest strengths? I believe our dealership’s absolute greatest strength is our staff. We have a crew that is tight knit, works extremely well together, gets the job done no matter what, and genuinely enjoys each other’s company. It’s almost unreal. I also believe that our state-of-the-art facility, management team, awesome customer service, loyal customer base, and great selection of brands are some of our greatest strengths, as well.


4. In what area of your dealership would you say there is the most room for growth? I think our dealership has a lot of room to grow in the marketing department. Marketing has become an exceedingly vital aspect of a dealership, and I believe some adjustments must be made in order to pay more attention to it.


5. What role, if any, has the conference played in your growth and/or that of your business? The knowledge I gained at the conference this past December will play a large part in helping grow our business. All the marketing expertise I gained will better equip me to redesign our website, produce more shareable content, and calculate analytics more efficiently, all resulting in a bigger ROI in the marketing budget.


6. What surprised you the most about your conference experience? I was surprised most by the comforting atmosphere at the conference. It seemed that no matter where I was or who I was around, I was comfortable and felt like I belonged. It was a huge relief that the environment was like this, especially because I knew no one and was so far from home.


7. Tell us more about your event experience. What are you working to implement in your business post-conference and/or planning to implement? My first conference experience was eye opening. I learned a lot, and any of the information that I already knew was just a reminder that it was indeed important. I have a laundry list of projects to work on after going to the conference, many of which involve rebuilding our website. While our site was working well, I was reminded at the conference that we can do way better. Another important plan is to confirm our marketing ROI by calculating the lifetime profit values and cost of acquisition on our customers. A few other things I plan to implement are; assisting the sales staff in email follow ups and customer check-ins, changing the way we execute print, TV and Radio ads, and creating a vast database of useful knowledge and information about boating for our customers.


8. What part of the conference did you enjoy the most? The part of the conference I enjoyed most was the track sessions. So much valuable information was taught, I met some amazing new mentors and learned about so many great resources. I’m currently reading two books I purchased from David Horsager and have two more books to read next that Marcus Sheridan suggest (one of which, he wrote). I also have all the content accessible on MRAA.com, along with other links are resources the speakers suggested. I left with a wealth of resources, which is very exciting.

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