One of my earliest surfing memories is playing in the sand at the beach I grew up at and watching my dad walk into the water with his board (see main photo… same board).
I must have been super young because I remember my younger brother still being a toddler.
Not sure where mum was.
I doubt there was even an umbrella.
I don’t remember there being a towel.
I also recall watching VHS (remember those?) videos of him and his mates surfing the Mentawai islands in the late 80s. Grainy footage of empty waves with the Cranberries playing over the top.
But I digress.
I’m not writing this to talk about my lack of parental supervision as a wee grom, nor do I want to dwell on how incredibly empty the Ments was back then.
What I want to say is that my experience with surfing goes back to my childhood, and its this experience that has allowed me to help brands with their copywriting and marketing needs.
Surf-specific marketers vs. outside agencies
All well and good, but does having deep roots in the surfing world even matter when it comes to marketing a surf biz?
You might’ve asked this question before. I know I definitely have, and when I first started The Surfing Copywriter, I wasn’t sure if my experience with surfing would make a real difference in promoting surf businesses.
(I mean, some people still don’t really even know what a “surfing” copywriter does… and that’s ok).
But after several years of working with both surf-specific marketers and outside agencies, I can confidently say that there is a significant difference between the two when it comes to marketing surf businesses.
And while there are exceptions, I’ve gotta say… the surf-specific marketers come out waaay on top.
Surfing is a small world and it’s easy to spot the pretenders
If you were to write a blog article about any topic on cryptocurrency, how far into it do you think a highly experienced, deeply involved crypto user would need to read before they realise the author doesn’t know what they’re talking about?
I’ll give you a hint: mere seconds.
That’s because while cryptocurrency feels like it’s everywhere, it’s still a relatively intimate community.
The surfing world is exactly the same.
This means that you need to know what you’re talking about… otherwise you’ll be found out real quick.
Case and point, I can more or less assess the knowledge and skill level of a surfer purely by how they write about it.
And like most people, I’m unlikely to take advice from somebody whom I perceive has less experience than me.
So what happens when you invest hundreds or even thousands on marketing with a non-surfer or even someone fresh to the industry?
Things could work OK, for sure.
More than likely though, your marketing and messaging will miss the mark, which equals wasted time and money on your part.
The importance of authority
The realisation that I keep coming back to when considering whether to work with outside marketing agencies myself is that they’re unable to produce content that truly connects with the surf community and resonates with the target audience.
Simply put, they lack authority.
They might have all the marketing knowledge in the world, but when it comes to understanding the nuances of surfing culture, they are at a disadvantage.
On the other hand, surf-specific marketers have both marketing expertise AND insider knowledge of surfing.
This combination is powerful and allows them to craft messaging and campaigns that speak directly to the hearts and minds of surfers.
When it can work
In saying that, I’m not totally writing off outside marketing agencies.
It can work.
But a HUGE amount of input from you as the individual entrenched in the surfing world is crucial.
For example, a marketing agency might come back at you with Meta ads to approve, but upon reading what they’ve wrote, you realise it just doesn’t fit.
This is where your input becomes invaluable.
You’ll need to take the reins and steer them in the right direction.
(Nope, we don’t say “cowabunga” anymore).
This type of back and forth can be time-consuming and frustrating, but if you want to work with an outside agency and still have authentic messaging, it’s necessary.
What to look for when hiring from “the outside”
If the extra time investment doesn’t phase you or you have your heart set on an outside agency, there are a few things you should look for when hiring them.
- Make sure they understand that surfing is more than just a sport. It’s also a diverse, multifaceted and inclusive lifestyle that people do for fun, fitness and connection to nature
- Look for agencies that have worked with niche markets before and have an understanding of subcultures e.g. snowboarding, skateboarding, professional wife carrying
- They should also be open and willing to learn from you about the surfing world. Again, your input will be crucial
- Tracking results and adjusting campaigns is also important, so make sure the agency you choose has a solid record of effectively measuring and optimising campaigns
Ultimately, the key is to find an outside agency that is willing to collaborate with you and take the time to understand your brand and target audience.
The benefits of working with surf-specific marketers
If you’d rather entrust your brand and marketing to someone who truly understands surfing, then working with a surf-specific marketer is the way to go.
These professionals not only have a deep knowledge and understanding of the surfing world but also possess all the necessary marketing skills to effectively promote your business.
By working with someone who shares your passion for surfing, you can ensure that your messaging and campaigns align with the values and culture of the surfing community.
Plus, you won’t have to constantly explain surfing terminology or correct errors in messaging – saving you time and effort in both the short and long term.
While it’s not impossible for outsiders to effectively market surf businesses, hiring someone with a deep understanding and experience in the surfing world can make all the difference.
Surf-specific marketers bring a unique perspective and insider knowledge that can truly elevate your brand and connect with your target audience.
So when it comes to promoting your surf biz, don’t underestimate the value of hiring someone who knows their way around a lineup just as well as they know their way around a marketing campaign.
So in conclusion, while outside agencies may have the necessary marketing skills, working with a surf-specific marketer can truly make a difference in effectively promoting and connecting with the surfing community.
So choose wisely and remember, authenticity is key.