Direct mail messages target idle boating enthusiasts

Client: Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation
Agency: Colle & McVoy
Outtake: To encourage boating enthusiasts to renew their lapsed boat registrations.

The Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) issues permits for boat owners who enjoy recreational boating and fishing across the nation. Because boat owners are required to update their boat registrations every three years, the organization is challenged with making sure that members stay active and renew their boating permits.

To address the issue, the RBFF teamed up with state fish and wildlife agencies and created the Lapsed Boat Registration Pilot Program, a campaign that highlights the fun aspects of boating life. The idea was to send test direct mail that encourages online registrations using scenic imagery of people boating. The first test was carried out in Oregon in 2009 in partnership with the Oregon State Marine Board (OSMB) and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Following the success in Oregon, RBFF expanded the effort to Ohio.

STRATEGY: In April 2011, the RBFF teamed up with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Watercraft and sent direct mail postcards to more than 23,000 boat owners in Ohio who had lapsed registrations. The postcards reminded boat owners to register their boats, focusing on the fun and recreational aspects of boating using images of people having a good time on their boats and copy highlighting the waterways available to registered boaters. The direct mail pieces gave recipients instructions on how to register their boat online, in person and through the mail.


“Different people want to register in different ways, so we just have the tools available to make it easy for them,” says Stephanie Hussey, director of state initiatives at the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation. “Many people went online to sign up because it was easy for them.”


The group’s website was personalized for lapsed boat registrants and included tools to update registration and download forms, as well as informational content for boat owners such as local boating laws, safety tips and information about boating classes. It also included links to the Ohio Division of Watercraft’s Facebook page and links to its call center.


RESULTS: RBFF recorded 751 lapsed boat registrations during the 42-day evaluation period. The organization brought in $13,919 in net revenue from lapsed registrations after the cost of the direct mail program was considered. In addition, the organization brought in an estimated $2,336 in additional revenue from the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund allocations.


RBFF is now running the pilot program in Florida and Tennessee and plans to expand the program with up to 15 more states in 2012.


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