Who are your customers?

It is no longer possible to simply rent a shop, put up a sign which says 'Dive Centre' and wait for the customers to walk in. Divers are becoming more and more picky. They will look for a dive centre that appears to match the type of diving they want. For example, if you fill your window with pictures of wrecks, adverts for Nitrox courses and brassware 'recovered' from the deep, you will not attract the family divers; while a window full of pictures of father/son, mother daughter, pink fins and lots of marine life will not attract the deep techie wreck divers.

The first thing then to remember is that your dive centre cannot be a universal panacea for every diver. The first step in your Marketing plan is to recognise that the type of diving you do will eventually determine just what sort of customers you will attract. While we would all like to take every single opportunity that walks past your shopfront, if you don't have any focus, in the end your business will not be sucessful. You can print and fill in the worksheet below to define your customers:

Our Hint: Start by being honest and defining the customers you get today - if you can, put some rough percentages alongside each characteristic (eg 55% male, 45% female). Then in the final column decide what you want in the future. All you need to do then is work out plans to specifically target those groups.

Characteristic Examples My profile Today Target Future Profile
Qualification Level
  • Beginners
  • 40-100 dives Recreational Divers
  • Technical Divers
   
Age/sex Profiles
  • 18-30 Gap Year
  • 30-45 Parents
  • Mainly Male
  • Mainly Female
   
Type of Activity
  • Mainly Courses
  • Mainly Daycourses
  • Deep or technical diving
  • Guided excursions
   
Type of Diving
  • Easy, Junior under 12m>
  • Average, non-stop, recreational
  • Challenging
  • Deco-dives
  • Technical (mixed gas) diving
   
Language / Culture
  • English Speaking
  • German Speaking
  • Japanese clients who speak English
   
       
       

Put the words together and you should be able to come up with a definition of your customers something like this :

  • Example 1 - A dive centre near Scapa Flow or Truk Lagoon "Most of our divers will be experienced with over 50 dives, most will be male aged 35-50 with qualifications of second level and above, many with technical qualifications such as Nitrox. They will be singles or small groups looking to do several days diving, and will come from a wide range of countries to see the special wrecks here. Their dive profiles will be challenging, close to the edge of the safety envelope"
  • Example 2 - A beach-front dive centre in a popular tourist destination (not renown for the quality of diving). "Most of our divers will be daycourses or beginners or divers without much experience. They will either be couples or family groups, with some children. Most will dive for one day or do an introductory course such as PADI Open Water or Scuba Diver. They will come from a select group of countries (eg England, Germany, Scandinavia) and will want dives which have good margins of safety"

Tips on using your customer profile

For every part of the statement you have put together above, you now have empowered yourself - you can make important decisions about who you are going to target and how.

Here are some Marketing Hints to help you use the results.

  • The first and most important rule is "you cannot sell to everybody". Now is the time to focus on what is sucessful!
  • There is no 'ideal mix'. It is up to you. Two dive centres side by side may have different language focus, or training focus and still be sucessful.
  • In your future profile, try not to be "me too" and just copy some competitor .. look for the gaps, what are they not offering ?
  • Be realistic in how much you can change.
  • Check out the photos on your publicity material and website. Do the pictures reflect the type of diving you want to promote? Are the people in the photos similar to the profile you have just created?

What is the next step in Building your Marketing Plan

You have now completed the customer profile worksheet and should now complete the service profile worksheet you may already have some ideas about where you could grow your business.

The next step will be to complete the source of business worksheet and come up with a simple split of where you get your business from. When you have all three worksheets completed it is time to get some final information and then work out your plans to achieve the growth or change in focus that you want.