Lazy marketing for recreation loans tends to lump everything together

Boats Aren’t Motorcycles

As a marketer, you can slap an image of a car or a house on your ad for an auto loan or a home loan and most people will get it. But what if you want to offer loans for boats, RVs, ATVs and UTVs, electric bikes, snowmobiles or jet skis? And what do you call it if you want to offer loans for any and all of those things?

Part of the problem is the industry doesn’t have a standard term for what this type of loan should be, and so a lot of financial institutions are creating their own definitions. With this kind of variation, it’s no wonder people are confused. So while the financial world disagrees about what does and does not fit, here’s our advice for getting the word out about what we are calling Recreation Loans:

Tell us what you do and don’t offer

Most financial institutions will simply list the “basics” – boats, RVs and motorcycles – but there are a whole slew of vehicles that might also fit their loan criteria. We’ve seen things like jet skis, ATVs, and snowmobiles make the list. Heck, some people even include timeshares.

But even those three “basics” aren’t as specific as you might think. There are a plethora of different boat options, for example. So do boat loans cover a nice sailboat, or does it have to be motorized? Is a bass boat that much different from a pontoon? If sailboats are a boat loan option, would you finance a canoe or a family pack of kayaks? Even RVs have an impressive number of alternatives, from cruisers to campers, at wildly different price points. So where does your financial institution set their limits?

It should be pretty obvious at this point that you need to be as clear as possible about what your recreation loans include. (And if a member wants something that’s not on the list, why not reskin a personal loan instead?)

It all comes down to culture

You might be surprised, and maybe even a little intimidated, by just how many subcultures have evolved around different vehicles. Buying a vehicle like this is a personal choice, and like most hobbies that vehicle often become a part of the person’s identity and self-image. Understanding the culture around each person’s choice gives you a chance to reach people in a much more direct and intimate way – but it also leaves a lot of room for missteps.

Lazy marketing for recreation loans tends to lump everything together, or even worse, advertise the wrong thing to the wrong people. Every version of a motorcycle, boat or RV comes with its own subculture, and you’re guaranteed to make them mad if you pretend they’re all the same.

Also, on a more practical level, you’re just not showing them what they’re looking for. Why would they come to you, when you clearly don’t get it?

Take Brian for example: He loves to build, fix, and ride motorcycles. He owns and has owned quite a few, and he’s always got his eye out for a good deal. But if you show him a picture of a guy on a chopper, hair in the breeze? He’ll think you’re nuts. That just doesn’t appeal to him, and you clearly didn’t take the time to figure that out.

You can learn a lot if you ask questions

There are such a variety of options for boats, RVs, and motorcycles that you can’t possibly have time to learn about all of them. Your best move is to turn to your members, and start asking questions.

One client of ours has a lot of members who call themselves “mudders.” They like to hop on their ATVs, hit the trails and get really muddy. And because the client already knew that, they were able to send the right message and speak the same language. It’s easy to see how their “mudder” members feel like their financial institution “gets” them.

Clarity is crucial, and just good practice. If you’re not sure about your new campaign, show it to some people (or send them an email). Even obvious questions like, “What is this ad for?” can give you a lot of useful information.

There’s no real secret or trick here. When it comes to your members’ cultures and subcultures, you’re going to need to pause and ask some questions first. Make sure you know you’ve got the right idea, or you’re going to send the wrong message.

As always, if you’re having trouble, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Sam Dicken

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