In niche luxury market sectors such as the sailing yacht industry, a highly bespoke marketing strategy is required to engage with prospective sailing yacht clients.
Relevance Yacht helps leading sailing yacht brokerages reach the world’s wealthiest audience profiles. Southern Wind, a shipyard that specialises in smart custom performance sailing yachts, is a client we have been working with for four years, working hand-in-hand with their marketing team to create highly effective marketing campaigns that resonate with their target audience.
According to Southern Wind’s head of marketing and communications, Umberta Bassino, the key to sailing yacht marketing success is harnessing the power of both digital marketing strategies and traditional PR methods.
But it’s not all about media strategies, a robust online presence, and yachting events such as boat shows. In the yacht market, the philosophy of the brand and the quality of the product and service is just as important, serving to attract and retain clients, while allowing for organic growth and unwavering customer loyalty.
“The after-sales services we offer is an important marketing tool at Southern Wind,” Bassino says. “It guarantees our clients a continuously high level of quality. After-sales service and repairs, warranty works, refit, brokerage, charter, yacht management; nothing is managed by outside contractors, who can have their own set of priorities that may not be the same as ours.”
Here, Bassino takes us through her journey in the yachting world and shares her observations on the luxury yacht market and her expert tips for successful sailing yacht marketing.
Sailing Yacht Marketing
1. Tell us a little about yourself and your journey into the yachting business
I was born in Genoa in 1979 to a family of passionate sailors. I started cruising at the age of six, so the sea is part of my DNA. With a masters degree in marketing and communications and an additional degree in business administration, my professional career has always been centred around communications and marketing. After working in telecommunications in Milan for a few years, the ocean’s call brought me back to Genoa in 2005, where I officially began my career in the yachting industry.
After a couple of years away from work, my dream of combining my passions for sailing with marketing came true in 2013, when I became part of the Southern Wind team. What I love about my job is the contact with people and the opportunity to build relationships based on trust and collaboration. The ability to utilise my experience daily to spread the values that make Southern Wind a reputable and successful sailing yacht brand worldwide is extremely rewarding.
2. What are some of the key yacht trend shifts you’ve seen at Southern Wind and the yachting industry over the past decade?
The last 10 years have marked several significant changes in the yachting and luxury sector in general, affecting marketing practices. There was only one way to acquire new potential customers in yachting in the past. This was to meet them face-to-face on the dock. Whether during a luxury yacht show or at a busy marina during the peak summer sailing months, the dock was the main point of contact with prospective clients. Today we can rely on a revolutionary platform: the worldwide web.
The digital world offers highly effective services and sailing marketing tools that are efficient in promoting a brand and product to a broader audience than ever before.
At Southern Wind, this led to a new approach to communication and our superyacht marketing activities. Today, our digital marketing activities integrate seamlessly with the more traditional communication activities such as PR, advertising and events, a strategy that has been strongly encouraged by Southern Wind’s shareholders.
3. What are your top tips for successful yacht marketing in the digital age?
Digital marketing means providing your prospective client base with a diverse series of value-added content to satisfy their need for knowledge of the product in question. This extends throughout every aspect of digital branding, including:
- The creation of a user-friendly website that is consistently updated and well-positioned on search engines;
- The active management of social platforms as a vehicle for a clear editorial plan in line with company objectives;
- The creation of a comprehensive content marketing plan, including in-depth and original content, which can also be conveyed and distributed through external platforms.
Once a lead has been generated online, yacht events play a strategic role in driving clients to purchase. With this in mind, the event’s objective must be to educate the customer through experience.
The physical experience we are trying to convey must encompass the product’s specific value and, above all, the brand’s value. Open days and well-executed events, such as the Southern Wind Rendezvous and Trophy regatta, have shown remarkable effectiveness in accelerating negotiations and retaining customers, with a significant return on investment for the yard.
4. Sailing yachts are a niche part of the luxury yacht market. Could the eco-friendly aspects of sail vs motor work attract new clients in the future?
The growing attention to sustainability undoubtedly supports sailing vs motor yachting. The least green sailing yacht is greener than the greenest motor yacht. This fact is attractive for the increasingly eco-conscious customer. A lot of progress is being made regarding innovative new materials and the way we use power, even on a sailing yacht. Southern Wind’s first hybrid yacht, the SW96 GT yacht, will be delivered to her owner in Summer 2022 and is an excellent example of how we are expanding our eco-conscious strategy.
Southern Wind believes that sailing boats that perform as well as ours dramatically reduce the need for fuel-powered engines. But motor yacht owners continue to be anxious about the luxury sailing experience. Many believe that a sailing yacht is uncomfortable and complex. This is untrue and, at Southern Wind, our range of smart custom luxury sailing yachts prove that.
Sustainability alone doesn’t seem enough to attract motor yacht owners. We think that the way to attract new owners is by education. It’s a complex marketing strategy encompassing diverse experiences and marketing efforts, which requires an industry-wide effort.
5. What does 2022 have in store for Southern Wind?
The year 2022 has begun auspiciously, with a new yacht just sold – the first unit of the SW108 Hybrid project we unveiled towards the end of 2021. This smart custom sailing yacht is now under construction in Cape Town, South Africa, representing a turning point in Southern Wind’s offering of luxury, high-performance superyachts. She is scheduled for delivery in 2023.
Two other yachts are currently under construction at the Southern Wind facilities: SW105 Sorvind the fifth in the miniseries of the succesfull SW105 project about to be launched in a few weeks, and SW96#04, which is scheduled to launch in summer 2022. The SW105 yacht will be presented as a world premiere at a 2022 Mediterranean yacht show at the end of summer, where she will then go on to join the prestigious fleet of Southern Wind yachts available for charter.
In the wake of last year’s success, the 16th edition of the Southern Wind Rendezvous and Trophy will be held again in 2022 in Porto Cervo, from May 31 to June 4. We are delighted to have Giorgio Armani as the new title sponsor of this superyacht regatta. We are sure it will add value to an already prestigious and well-established luxury event.
Alongside this main event, we plan on running two smaller boutique family events, like the Southern Wind Family Rendezvous held in Porto Rotondo in September 2021. These yacht gatherings offer owners moments of fun and camaraderie spiced by a bit of sailing competition, ingredients that are making those events a new tradition in the Southern Wind calendar.
Our SW105#04Taniwha, the 105 footer yacht we launched in 2021, is nominated for two important awards: Boat International Design and Innovation Awards at the World Superyacht Awards. This yacht caught the judges’ eyes during the 2021 Monaco Yacht Show, and we are crossing fingers her strong personality and elegant design will get the recognition they deserve in 2022.
Relevance Yacht is a dedicated luxury yacht marketing agency that collaborates with some of the world’s leading luxury yacht companies, helping superyacht brokerages, prestigious shipyards, and industry professionals reach High-Net-Worth and Ultra-High-Net-Worth audiences efficiently and effectively. Ready to step up your marketing and content strategies? Contact our digital marketing experts today.