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ICAST keynote speaker tells boat industry: every company needs to be acting like a start-up


Jay Baer, founder of five multi-million dollar companies and a previous speaker at the ICAST trade show, had a key message for attendees at the Virtual Dealer Week organised by the Marine Retailers Association – ‘Nobody knows nothing’ about nothin’.

Talking to an audience of some 1,500, many of who serve the fishing market, Baer (pictured) said that customers are less educated than they have ever been due to the upset in business operations caused by the Coronavirus. And business owners who haven’t made the effort to update clients on how they are operating are losing business, he warned in his keynote speech at the annual event.

“Customers do not know the story any more,” he said. “You can see this in the data. From February to March there was an 88% increase in questions asked on websites. That’s not questions asked on Google; that’s questions asked on your website and my website and the MRAA’s and RBFF’s website. Why? Because nobody knows nothin’ about nothin’. Baer, who owns a digital marketing and customer experience company, also told dealers that data revealed that 75% of customers say online reviews and ratings are more important than ever to them.

“Of course they are,” he added. “After all we’ve been through, you’re going to read a review about licorice before you spend money on it, much less a boat. In these circumstance, every single business has to function like a start-up, as if it had just opened its doors,” argued Baer.

“You have got to rewire the customer understanding. I guarantee that partially from the uncertainty gap and partially from new boat owners you’ve got customers saying things like ‘I’m not sure’ or ‘I don’t know’ and ‘What about…’ Those are clarity warnings. It means that the information you are providing is not comprehensive enough or clear enough. That’s a signal you need to close down the uncertainty gap.”

Baer urged companies to post ‘Ultimate FAQs’ on their websites. “Nothing is too basic or obvious today. If somebody is going to buy a boat, it’s not just a purchase, especially for a first-time buyer. It’s a lifestyle change. People are already doing Google searches on these things, so you may as well address it for them.”

Baer spoke at the 2017 ICAST show about selling fishing as an experience rather than as a list of technical specs that most anglers don’t understand or relate to.

Dealer Week drew 1,030 registered dealers as of 10.30am Tuesday – an all-time record which rose to around 1500 when exhibitor staff were included.

“Thank you to everyone who has played a role in helping make Dealer Week 2020 a success,” posted Mike Davin, Brand Manager for the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas. In an otherwise crazy year, we are thrilled to share this incredible content with more dealers than ever before,”

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