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I think digital or internet marketing provides many opportunities for a far richer experience with a brand, than can be accomblished by a 30 second tv ad. However, relevance is key!
I recently purchased a new surfboard, and in doing research for the board, was happy to scan / read / watch hours of advertising related to the topic. So what did I do?

surfboard1. Word of mouth. I started by seeking advice from all the surfers I know to help narrow down the search.
2. Online Search. I then attempted to search for information and advertising online about surfboards. Real stories from real consumers talking about their experiences. Whilst this was great, I realised that unlike Globally available electronics goods, the surfboard market has so many players that it is really difficult to clean specific purchase advice, that can be followed up by a purchase at my local surf shop.
3. Off to the shops. Visiting a few of the local surf shops, it became clear that they promoted their current stock range.
4. Test my research online and with my friends, and decide on the length and type of board.
5. Phone around a number of shops to identify the best price.
6. Purchase the board.

So what would I recommend to Surfboard manufacturers?

1. First, a web site explaining which board should be used in which surf for which level of surfer? (some do),
2. Offer of free or discounted “learn to surf” dvd’s.
3. Podcasts, blogs, forums to provide additional information about their boards, and consumer experiences.
4. Videos of real people, surfing on the manufacturers board.
5. Sell direct to consumers. Why can’t one of them sell direct (like Dell)?
6. Providing Link ups to local surf schools, local clubs to turn the sale into a community invitation.
7. Guarantees to buy the board back in 12 months time when upgrading to the next board.

Surfing is an experience, and I think the board manufacturers are too heavily relying on the surf store distribution network, instead of capitalising on recommendations from friends, linking to local surfing groups, and providing information to enrich the experience.

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