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Shark Diver LLC

ZERO COST SB DIGITAL MARKETING

PARTNERING WITH MARINE CONSERVATION EFFORTS

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01

The Challenge

Shark Diver LLC, a small specialty SCUBA dive operation wanted to minimize its digital marketing budget. The operation hosts a limited number of boat cabin spots for 1-5 days to and from various dive sites for eight weeks on the Mexico coast, six weeks in the Caribbean and 4 weeks in the Fiji Islands.

The current campaign was not filling the open spots quickly enough to justify advanced seasonal costs of operations; however the bigger challenges were: limited marketing budget during the operation’s early stages of growth; inability to secure full commitments in advance at cost of around $3,000 for a 5-day trip; and maintain the no-refund policy.

The previous solution relied mainly on the digital marketing channels of social media. 

02

Hypothesis

Build trust and authenticity by rebranding the experiences to an a alternative scuba diving expedition.
Tell the story - transition from diving expeditions to a more relevant customer journey relative with direct involvement in marine conservation efforts. 

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Photo: ©2015 / 2023 Carol Barger All Rights Reserved

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03

Role

While on the Fiji marine reserve expedition and through numerous conversations with the operators at Beqa Adventure Divers and after gaining greater clarity of their objectives, I asked how I might contribute to marine conservation efforts at Shark Reef Marine Reserve. The requirement initially began with reconciling the current design with commitment to the expanding business model.

04

Research

Research findings redefined the major goals as  three-fold:


To maintain cost-per-acquisition at almost-zero.

Maintain cost-per sustained customer at almost zero


Build a trusted brand around it’s fundamental mission of marine life conservation.


The current model featured a call-in and email for booking, however 80% of those interested in the expeditions preferred to access booking information via the facebook or instagram media channels linked to a website or mobile app where they could visually explore all their trip locations and options.

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Photo: ©2015 / 2023 Carol Barger All Rights Reserved

05

New Framework and Visual Design, Promo, and Mobile booking solutions.

Having established a definitive mission, the teams created a fresh visual design, commitment to design and style standards; transitioned the UI into a new responsive framework, and achieved the goals, objectives and best practices for continually evolving usage requirements.

  • Content driven marketing — Increased volume to the blog site via social media with adventure diving interest-specific groups on Facebook; lots photos and videos chronicling the experience of those who went on the expedition.

  • Leveraged special feature stories, for example, when a filmmaker, actor or a celebrity booked the trip, the coverage of their adventure bumped up traffic and views 100-200x on the social media group pages and on Instagram. 

  • Added interest-specific pages for Instagram, Google+, Tumblr and Pinterest.

  • Implemented SEO and SEM keywords to link with those whose interests align with the core company mission.

  • Maintained brand proposition but profiled to a greater extent the core mission aligning and connecting subscribers with adventure diving partners, locations, other marine conservation blogs and fundraisers.

  • Re-shelled Shark Diver’s ‘shark diving’ site concurrent with a new mobile solution to re-face it as an ‘eco-tour’ blog site that clarified and aligned with the company’s core mission and partnerships.

  • Increase blog readership through SEO and free blog and newsletter subscriptions. 

  • Mobile trip-planning app simplified the trip booking process. Users query trip dates and availability of spots up to year in advance; book shark diving expeditions, trip and hotel options to include partnership deals with other dive operators in Guadalupe Island, Fiji Islands, and Bimini.

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06

The Solution

We created a digital marketing plan for maintaining almost-zero-cost marketing through content driven marketing, social media, through partnerships with other dive operators and two hi-visibility marine life conservation programs; a new mobile app for checking availability and booking spots up to a year in advance; SEO/SEM, profiling the company’s core mission through stories, conservation blogs, and partnerships with other eco-tour and adventure diving operations.

For some market segments, the ‘tribal’ or emotional connection, convenience, the customer’s likelihood to commit to terms, and their ease of use/experience, often turn out to be the most effective draw for new customers. Instead of selling people on a dive trip, we connected with them through community -- sharing imagery, videos, and meaningful stories, as well as Increased exposure to a wider audience of scuba divers and those with a passion for endangered species and marine life conservation, since this was the true and sustainable market and the core mission of the company.

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©2015 / 2023 Carol Barger All Rights Reserved

New informational pages on Shark Cove Marine Reserve and research efforts. ©2015 / 2023 Carol Barger All Rights Reserved

Retrospective

In any great story, we follow a single or set of characters as they undergo some form of change. Stories are about movement and transformation, through twists and turns of experiences, influences,  obstacles, triumphs, and from the chipping away at edges of story's central characters and  relationships and between all of the characters and events.  In re-scripting the Shark Diver story we established an indelible relationship between a diverse group of adventurers and another of those passionate about conservation efforts. The result is long term partnership in protecting our oceans and marine life. Qualitative results became measurable and directly proportional to the design’s end value to the consumer. 

Vlog redesign

©2015 / 2023 Carol Barger All Rights Reserved

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