Sanding Schooner Virginia’s blocks, splicing lines, replacing sails and a well-deserved sunset sail.
Sailing Harbor 20s on the Elizabeth River. Seeing Visiting Tall Ships. Camping on a Sailboat. Exploring the Annapolis Boat Show. Checking out the Schooner Virginia now that her winter cover is off!
The truth of the matter is, if you search ‘sailing near me’ you are most likely going to be offered a mixture of dolphin watching and dinner cruises. So in the google search result jungle, how do you find the right kind of sailing for you?
This is a very easy age to get young people into sailing. Try searching for Sailing Summer Camps, After School Programs, Academies, Classes, Lessons, Clubs or even Teams.
For Adults (New to Experienced Sailors)
If you’re not sure what kind of sailing you’re looking for, read through the questions below and see what kind suits your current situation.
Are you curious about sailing but not quite sure if it’s the hobby for you? Check out First Sail! This is a great program helping sailing curious adults find a way out on the water.
Are you ready to be a social sailor? Search ‘Community Sailing Center’ instead of just sailing near me. You’re most likely going to find an easy going group that wants to share their passion for sailing with you for a price point that isn’t too terrifying. Memberships are as low at $20 a month at Sail Nauticus in Norfolk, Virginia. Community Sailing centers like Hudson River in NYC offer discounts to millennials.
If there isn’t a community sailing center near you, or if you’re looking for an upscale sail, try joining a Yacht Club. Plus, they’ll have many additional perks like pools and tennis courts.
Sailing Centers and Yacht Clubs are both likely to offer Learn to Sail classes or free clinics to members.
Are you ready to cast off and take a full course? Try looking for an American Sailing Association or US Sailing Class! There are many accredited sailing schools like Offshore Sailing and Blue Water Sailing School sailing out of ports all over the world. Some of these classes last a week or more and offer everything from monohulls to catamarans and cruising to racing. What a wonderful vacation!
If you’re not ready to commit a few thousand to an ASA course, you also have Basic Keelboat or any other Learn to Sail Class.
Would you rather be the captain of your own destiny? Try searching for a timeshare like SailTime or a one-time private boat charter.
Or are you ready to be crew? Try MeetUp.com! There are groups for sailors or even Captains looking for crew for races! This is a great way to get on the water with little to no cost deterrent. You’ll likely make friends with boats.
Or can you believe there’s an app for that? American Sailing Association has an App called Go Sailing to help Captains find crew and vice versa for cruising and racing!
Need an immediate fix for your sailing addiction? If you’re traveling or need a one-time sail, try searching for Schooner or Tallship Cruises in the area. They’re not likely going to be hands on but I’ve been on a few beautiful sunset and dinner cruises in Norfolk, NYC, and Paris.
Do you not necessarily need sails? Get on or in the water paddleboarding, kayaking, jet skiing, surfing, swimming, or Discover Boating.
Let me know if you can think of any other ways to help new sailors or old salt get out on the water.
Sailing next to the American Rover. Spotting dolphins in the Elizabeth River. Sanding blocks and a quick deck renovation tour for the Schooner Virginia. Sailing with the kids on a foggy day.
I’d say our sailing club, like any club, has a big social component. We spend many days on the water but once a week we have camaraderie after racing, once a month we have a potluck, and about once a quarter we have an open house. I am always looking for fun sail themed dishes to bring.
Here is a quick guide to the Caprese Tall Ships I made recently.
- 2 Tomatoes
- 1 Basil Plant
- Balsamic Glaze
- 1 Pack (10 Slices) of Mozzarella.
- 1 Baguette or Crustini
1.) Start by slicing your baguette into rounds about 1/4 of an inch thick. This way they’re thick enough to be a sturdy base for the mast (toothpick).
2.) Slice the tomato into half rounds. (First, slice into rounds then cut them down the middle.) Lay 1 slice on each of the baguette rounds.
3.) Center a full or half leaf of basil on the tomato. (I had giant basil leaves so I ripped them down the middle)
4.) Add a drop, line, or swirl of Balsamic Glaze.
5.) Cut your slice of cheese. Trim the rough edge. Then cut in half. Finally, cut the top 1/3 off the rest of the slice.
The longer side ends up being the sides of the sail. While the shorter edges are the top and bottom.
6.) Assemble your sail! Fold your larger rectangle of cheese to be the bottom sail and your smaller rectangle to be the topsail.
7.) Poke your mast through the center of your boat. For the best results, make sure it goes through the basil leaf, tomato, and bread.
- Use full thickness cheese slices. Thin slices end up being too crumbly!
- I found it easiest to hold both (shorter) ends of the cheese together and pierce them both then slide them apart to the appropriate spacing.
Some larger companies aim to have everyone with a swoosh or a horse on their shirt. However, for most companies, the product isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea and it’s in their best interest not to try. A locally based restaurant won’t find regular diners who don’t value locally sourced produce enough to pay the premium just like a beef jerky monthly subscription can’t hope to convert a group of vegans.
So if we can’t sell to everyone, who should we target with our marketing? From Facebook to Google, we are seeing that platforms are letting advertisers narrow their audience by gender, age, income bracket, in-market status and more. The key is finding a niche that is small enough for people to identify with but large enough to be profitable.
The goal here is to create a customer base that not only purchase our products, but that become brand advocates. It’s very clear in market research and from common sense that consumers are significantly more likely to purchase something from a recommendation over an advertisement. So if a business can bring one brand advocate onboard with their product, they’ll end up seeing stronger engagement and growth.
Let’s do a guided visualization to create our ideal customer. Remember to be specific enough to create someone you can talk to.
- Who is she? What does she look like? (mostly for your mental picture)
- How old is she? What is her income bracket? (This tells us how much disposable income she has)
- What is her family structure? (Married, Single, Dating, Divorced)
- Where does she live? (rural, urban, apartment, townhome, trailer, home)
- What does she value? (brand names, buying local, good deals)
- What are some of her hobbies? (This tells us what she spends her disposable income on.)
- What is her favorite social media platform? How does she share feedback about products she loves or hates?
- How frequently does she shop? How frequently is she in the market for a product like yours?
- How does your product fit into her daily/weekly/monthly/annual routine?
Now give her a name.
Hopefully, you will think of her and use your marketing campaigns to talk to her and convince her to interact with your brand. If your company has many products or services, you can use this tactic to create a handful of ideal customers.
Here are some examples of imaginary customers:
Ideal Customer 1: Kenneth is a forty-something college graduate with a mid level salary. He lives in a rural area in a three-bedroom house with his wife and their dog. He enjoys kayaking, hiking with his dog, and hunting. Kenneth uses facebook to connect with his friends and to share videos related to his beliefs and interests. He knows some brand names but he values the best deal over the brand. He shops when he runs out of things or when things are broken.
Ideal Customer 2: Sarah is a twenty-something recent college graduate with an entry level salary. She lives in a city in a studio apartment with her boyfriend and their cat. Sarah likes to cook, swim and binge on Netflix. Sarah habitually frequently leaves reviews on yelp, trip advisor, facebook, & google for exemplary or poor experiences. She values sincerity and she gets a warm glow from buying locally and responsibly. Sarah becomes very brand loyal. Sarah shops mostly online and browses web stores at least once a week.
Ok… So obviously this is me. But you get the picture. (Actually, I was in the cover picture.) Let me know if you were able to imagine your ideal customer!
You know you should market on Facebook but your posts don’t get a lot of engagement and you can’t figure out why. So what should do you do?
Pour your personality into your content.
The jig is up. Everyone knows that blog posts are written by a human and not churned out by the computer. Write like the human you are not the marketing guru you think you should copy.
Post about things that are really happening in your business. If you’re harvesting grapes to make wine or you just got a bunch of new inventory, these are organic posts that are interesting to the reader.
Treat your business posts like your personal feed.
Remember the person who posts constantly about their fitness business, their children, their political beliefs, or their relationship? It’s annoying. If you post the same thing every day you’re either annoying, boring, or both. Share a variety of things that are relevant to your business but also add value to your followers. Try to avoid posting similar posts back to back or in rapid succession.
Avoid making every post a sales pitch.
You can absolutely use social media to announce a sale or share information about your wares. But, think about how you feel when you’ve noticed you’ve been advertised to. Avoid making your readers feel this way.
Use marketing to help your potential customers imagine their life with your product. If you make it desirable, they will buy it. It’s the salesperson version of ‘If you build it, they will come’.
Visualize your ideal customer and talk to them.
We can’t be everyone’s cup of tea and we have to accept it. While you wish that every Joe and Sally would take home your product, it’s not realistic. Think about what lifestyle your product fits into and speak to that person. Your customers with have a better chance of relating to your content if it is applicable to their current or dream lifestyle.
- Invite high-value contacts such as friends, family, vendors, and business relationships to visit your business and leave a review. You can use this as a reciprocity trade. Ask the staff to ask guests that they have a friendly relationship with, such as regulars, if they would mind sharing their praises on their chosen platform.*
- Remove Negatives. See if negative reviews meet the review service’s policies. Many can be removed by reporting them because they are skewed or provide incorrect information. Disgruntled former employees and people who never made a purchase at your business are two examples of reviews that can be removed.
- Respond to every review. You can make every review 5 stars with the right response. For a negative review, invite them back and go the extra mile to turn them into fans. However, don’t publicly say you’ll give them free dinner or a gift card because this incentivises negative reviews. Rather, insist you’ll make it up to them and provide a customer service email address.
- Share positive reviews on your social media platforms and encourage users that your business would like to hear their thoughts too.
- Turn organic praise into reviews. When a positive post is made to your Facebook page, comment on the photo or post that you’d love to hear their kind words in the review section. When a positive post is made on Twitter or Instagram, invite them to share it on Yelp, Google, or Trip Advisor.
- Recruit platform traffic. Users who find your business using a review service and highly likely to leave reviews. You can use advertising and check-in offers to reach these potential customers.
- Send one follow-up email, thanking them for the visit and asking them to connect with you or share their feedback.
- Display the logo of review services in the business, on handouts, brochures, and email signatures so people are informed you are on the service. This is very passive but the most organic. It’s like leaving your customers a trail of breadcrumbs.