Using Sunsets to Find a Common Ground

“At sunset, nature is painting for us… day after day… pictures of infinite beauty.” – John Ruskin

I love sunsets. It’s one of the best treats of my day. Most of the time I’m finishing my nightly closing process and the sky is full of color. That’s when I think… “Dang, where is everyone? They should see this!”

One night I took out my phone, snapped a photo, and posted it on Facebook so our followers could “see this.” I did it, right from our dock. People loved it. It was very easy and I was surprised at how much engagement the photo received.

These magical moments are so simple, yet we often overlook the marketing significance. You see, I was SHARING my moment because I really thought other people would enjoy it. However, on a deeper level, I was bonding my customers to our marina through memories and engagement.

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Establishing a Bond
Sometimes it’s hard to find the common ground in the marina industry. What do I mean by common ground? Back in the mid-90s I was in the process of creating a new brochure for our marina. It had the “traditional” aerial view of the marina and docks. The printing cost was less expensive with a specialty company out of Florida that would print the 5,000 brochures and ship them to our Minnesota marina.

Here’s the ironic part… I received the proof and there was a surprise, the water was teal! And that was my first eye opener into just how individualized the marina industry is for marketing. In Minnesota our lakes are a deep navy blue.
Stop and think about it. While we all work with “boats” the actual product we sell is quite different depending if you are on a coast, river, waterway or Midwest lake. So how can I write an article about marketing and make it valuable to everyone reading, regardless of the marina’s geographic location? We need a common ground.

For a moment, let this concept sink in… stop marketing “boats” and start marketing “emotion.” Your ability to make an emotional connection with your customers will strengthen the bond they have with your marina and your brand.

Sounds easy enough, so how do you do this? Start by paying attention to the message you create. Beginning with the color of the water. If you post a photo of a boat on ocean blue water and you’re in the middle of the country, your customers will not build a connection. They do not understand bright blue water. It is the same as if you are in Florida and select a photo of a beautiful lake with a mountain in the background. The Florida boater may think it’s a pretty photo, but it does not have meaning because it’s not THEIR boating experience.

Marketing Emotion
Matching the scenery to your customer’s expectation is a crucial first step in your messaging. How do you use this to your advantage? When you make the shift to marketing emotion you open up an entirely new world of topics for use on social media.

But for this article I want to focus on one idea. Just one simple, FREE, and easy idea that can be utilized at every marina in the world that will create a bond with your customers. You can use this idea on social media for instant interaction and you can create an email list and people will LOVE to receive this topic.

Sounds exciting, right?

The idea is SUNSETS.

Sunsets are free. They are beautiful. They are always different. They are unique to your marina and every night there’s an opportunity for new and amazing content to post on your social feed. Sunsets are also something every boater appreciates. Remember, watching the sunset over the water is as much a part of boating as the “boater’s wave” is in a crowded channel.

Here’s a disclaimer, our marina is located on “Sunset Drive” which puts us at an automatic advantage for providing the most amazing sunsets on Lake Minnetonka. Each night several cars pull in to watch the sun go down, but I promise, you can do this, too! Hint: There are times I even post the sunsets in the winter!

Consider sharing images during the offseason, such as in the winter, to keep communication lines open and build anticipation for the upcoming boating season.

People love these posts. They always receive a high engagement. Part of the reason for the high engagement is because people love their boats and when you provide a beautiful photo of the sunset it reminds them of the memories they have made or CAN make on their boat.

Finally, what do you do if you are in the boating industry but, your marina does not have a great view of the sunset? Use your amazing sunrises! What if you don’t have either sunsets or sunrises… focus on some other aspect of nature at your marina. Pick the ducks, the dolphins, the carp (we have lots of those)… whatever aspect of the environment that your customers know and can connect with that makes them want to visit your marina and their boat.

We posted a photo of a turtle on a lily pad last summer and it received huge engagement by simply asking the question, “What should we name him?” By the way, the winning name was Peanut the Turtle.

The whole purpose of Sunsets Marketing is to strengthen the emotional bond with your customer without “selling.” People are motivated to buy when they know, like, and trust you. This begins with finding common ground. Every boater, regardless of geographic region, can bond with a beautiful photo of a sunset. It’s the greatest common denominator of our industry!

“There’s a sunrise and a sunset every single day, and they’re absolutely free. Don’t miss so many of them.” – Jo Walton

Roxanne Rockvam is the general manager of Rockvam Boat Yards Inc. in Spring Park, Minnesota. She can be reached by email at or by phone at 952-454-4681.