LOCAL BUSINESS OWNERS: Learn to attract ALL of the local customers you'll ever need >>

how to market whale watching company

"Growing from ZERO to full boats of whale watching adventure seekers."

Andrew Newman, Captain

I was looking to grow my new whale watching adventure company. James Martell helped me to understand the fundamentals of growing a successful online sales and marketing program for my business. James and his team then assisted and mentored me to implement that program which quickly helped me grow from ZERO to full boats of whale watching adventure seekers.

Andrew Newman, Captain
White Rock Sea Tours, Owner
TripAdvisor, Certificate of Excellence


The Situation

White Rock Sea Tours is a family owned business offering guests a truly unforgettable whale watching adventure.

In 2015, Andrew Newman decided to seek external help from a professional digital marketing agency to develop a strong marketing foundation and take on the management of the online marketing for the business.

After a thorough evaluation by SmarterLocal Marketing and after further discussion, White Rock Sea Tours engaged with us to help them as a new start-up business, break into the marketplace, by building brand awareness and to promote and sell their eco-adventures.


The Results

Since commencing the campaign with White Rock Sea Tours we have managed to achieve these results:

  • 1,000+ whale watching adventure sales - 2016 season
  • From ZERO to 200+ Reviews Averaging 4.7 Stars
  • From ZERO to 2,400+ subscribers to email newsletter
  • From ZERO to 2,300+ Facebook engaging followers
  • Top of page 1 rankings for highly competitive keywords;  White Rock whale watching, whale watching White Rock, whale watching White Rock BC, Surrey BC whale watching, whale watching Surrey, whale watching Surrey BC, killer whales White Rock, killer whales White Rock BC, Whale Watching Greater Vancouver
Free Discover Call

Figure 1: #1 in the Google Map and Natural Results for Most Popular Keywords

Technique #1: SmarterLocal Market Domination Blueprint to Set the Pathway for Activities and Tactics

This very important session gave us the opportunity to provide a clear direction for online marketing activities, resources and to identify a clear pathway to reach their goals and objectives.

We met with Andrew to gather information and insight about the business: target audience, key tours, differences, strengths, weaknesses, and to uncover opportunities. We used this information to devise a comprehensive marketing plan for White Rock Sea Tours.

Technique #2: Research Strong Competitors to Identify Strengths and Weakness

The competitor research phase is designed to gain a clear understanding of who our clients strongest competitors are- their competitive advantages, value propositions, and online marketing tactics and strategies. We specifically identify;

  • What do they rank for?
  • What battles are they winning?
  • How famous and trustworthy is their website?
  • Are their pages more likely to rank than ours?
  • Who can target the more competitive phrases?
  • Which of their articles is getting shared the most?
  • Which of their social networks is getting the best results?
  • Who is sharing their content?
  • Are they running paid ads?
  • What framework is their site built on?
  • What tracking tools are they using?

By gaining an insight into the whale watching company's competitors, we took what we learned to give our team clear targets and the specific strategies we'll use to surpass them.

Technique #3: Highlight Value Proposition and Key Points of Difference

After researching the industry and White Rock Sea Tour’s competitors, and also after further discussion with Andrew Newman, we were able to identify the company’s strengths and value proposition, and key differences from their competitors.

We highlighted these key selling points on the home page to ensure target prospects are able to view them easily.

Technique #4: Video Sales Letter to Do Much of the Heavy Lifting

Once we identified the company's strengths, value proposition, key differences from their competitors, and understood the details of the whale watching adventure, we then started to talking to potential customers. It was during this time that we discovered those showing interest asked the same basic questions including:

  • Will We See Whales?
  • Where Do We Go?
  • How Long Is the Trip?
  • What Does it Cost?
  • Will we be safe?
  • How Old Do You Have to Be?
  • When Do We Leave?
  • How Do I Book?
  • What Should I Bring?
  • What Should I Wear?
  • What If I Need to Cancel?

At this point, it became obvious that a promotional video would be an ideal way to present the whale watching adventure, so we created a video for White Rock Sea Tours. We used the video to sell the adventure, answer all of the questions above, share the whale watching guarantee, 5-star ratings on TripAdvisor and Facebook, and video testimonials and then ask for the sale. It worked like a charm.

Challenge Time

*I challenge you to watch this 4-minute video to 1) see if the questions above are answered, and 2) if you would be SOLD on taking an unforgettable adventure with White Rock Sea Tours ...all in just over 4-minutes.

Technique #5: Developing a Logo for the White Rock Sea Tours Brand

Andrew Newman had a clear vision for the logo for his brand and he sketched out his ideas on the piece of paper showed below. It was our role in the relationship to help make it a reality. We did, and now you will find the logo on everything from his website and social media accounts, to his vehicles, boats, business cards and marketing materials, to his line of t-shirts, hats and apparel.

Figure 2: Evolving an Idea Into Reality

Technique #6: Visual Content Marketing with Professional Photography

British Columbia is known for breathtaking scenery and White Rock Sea Tours is known for taking adventure seekers "on an unforgettable journey through the San Juan and Gulf Islands, experiencing breathtaking scenery and marine wildlife. This enchanting journey features secluded bays, secret coves, and spectacular world-class scenery. We seek out killer and humpback whales, porpoise, sea lions..."

Sounds pretty amazing doesn't it?

It is, and that is why right from the beginning we found and organized a professional photographer to capture this breathtaking scenery and marine wildlife so we could share it within all of the marketing materials.

The shots below are only a minuscule sampling of the hundreds of of incredible photos and videos that were captured.

Figure 2: A Sampling of Photos Captured By a Professional Photographer

Technique #7: Reorganize and Search Optimize the Existing Website

White Rock Sea Tours had an existing website that they had built using the Wix.com platform.

It was decided after a discussion with Andrew Newman, that due to time and money constraints, the existing website would have to work for the first full season with a few enhancements we added including the EventBrite booking engine and integration of the PayPal and Stripe.

We decided the main goals of the website would be to attract, educate and to entice the target audience to book an adventure. This was accomplished by adhering to these key principles;

  • Search engines prefer websites that are properly organized. So do people. We organize the website so both the search engines and visitors easily find what they need, and that all visitor questions were answered.
  • People do get frustrated when they can not find the contact information for the business. We ensure that all the contact details are on the homepage and in the footer of every page.
  • Online, looks are everything, and there’s nothing more unprofessional than photos that are poorly lit, out of focus, too small, or low in quality. We understand it pays to embrace professional photography.
  • People are impatient when browsing websites and slow load times impact conversions (getting people to buy your products or services). We pay attention to page load times.
  • More people are accessing websites via a mobile device than a desktop computer. The website must be easy navigable and look great on both mobile devices and desktops.
Free Discover Call

Figure 2: Wix-Based Website with Enhancements Worked Fine for the 2016 Season

Technique #8: Implement SEO Best Practices for On-Page Optimization

SEO is a marketing discipline focused on growing visibility in organic (non-paid) search engine results. We implemented best practices for search engine optimization of the website adhering to Google webmaster guidelines;

  • Develop unique and original SEO friendly content that keeps both visitors and search engines happy. Our goal is to develop a website where visitors can quickly find the information they need.
  • Planning and design of the technical, functional and visual components of a website - before it is designed, developed and deployed to ensure the proper indexation of the website.
  • Individually crafted pages with uniquely-written title tags, meta descriptions, headline tags, and filenames with targeted keywords for all pages.
  • Performed a mobile website speed test with the Google PageSpeed Insights tool and received and implemented the recommendations for improving website performance across all devices.
  • Added “No Follow” links to 'non-important' pages.
  • Add image ALT tags to all relevant images.
  • Other technical SEO setups.

Technique #9: Gain 5 Star Reviews - Greatest SEO Weapon

In addition to improving local search rankings, reviews help to increase customer trust and influence decision making. In a study by BrightLocal, it was found that 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a local business.

For these reasons, we put in place the steps necessary to gain positive reviews from existing patrons and address negative reviews to ensure the problems are solved to prevent future negative reviews.

These reviews help White Rock Sea Tours to have:

  • Increased Local Rankings: The quality and quantity of reviews are the most important factors that affect Google ranking. The more quality reviews you have, the higher you will rank in Google.
  • Increased Trust & Conversions: Positive reviews have been proven to help speed up decisions about purchases. 68% say positive reviews make them trust a local business more.
  • Increased Brand Authority: When people read great reviews about the pub, they will be more likely to start with a great impression, and more likely to spread the word to their family and friends.
  • Increased Referral Traffic: White Rock Sea Tours gains referral traffic from not only Google My Business but Facebook and other local and industry review sites as well.
  • Gain Critical Feedback: Sometimes doing business isn’t perfect. In both positive and negative reviews of the company, the general manager finds critical pieces of information and feedback that can used to make the business even better.
Free Discover Call

Figure 3: From ZERO to 200+ Reviews Averaging 4.7 Stars

Technique #10: Grow Engaging and Attentive Local Facebook Fans

According to SocialSprout, Facebook has more than 2 Billion active users, visiting the site an average of 8 times per day, providing local businesses with a tremendous opportunity to inexpensively attract local consumers from the #1 social media platform.

Thus, it was imperative that we utilize the power of Facebook to reach the target audience, build brand loyalty, and increase web traffic by developing a locally based Facebook audience for the company and proposed the following solutions;

  • Setup and optimize a Facebook fan page
  • Publishing timely, interesting and engaging posts (2-3 times per day)
  • Promoting availability of upcoming adventure tours
  • Running engaging contests to increase fans and followers
  • Grown the Facebook following to date to 2,300+

And, this 2,300+ Facebook following gave us the ability to promote last minute availability, specials, groups tours and all adventures.

Figure 2: From ZERO to 2,300+ Facebook Followers (Now 3,700+)

Technique #11: Engage and Nurture Email Subscribers with Timely Offers

According to the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), email had a median ROI of 122% in 2016. This statistic in itself is sufficient to highlight the importance of email marketing. Thus, it is imperative that we utilize the power of email marketing to grow White Rock Sea Tours and proposed the following solutions;

  • Setup email marketing management solution
  • Import all existing patient emails
  • Personalize newsletter templates with logo and contact information
  • Provide proven email template to request reviews

And, this 2.300+ email list gave us the ability to promote last minute seat deals, special offers, group tours and adventures.

Figure 2: From ZERO to 2,400+ Email Subscribers to Sell On Taking an Unforgettable Adventure

Technique #11: A Multi-Purpose Promotional Tent On the "End of the Pier"

Andrew Newman ordered a 10'x10' tent that would be setup at the end of the pier to promote the White Rock Sea Tours and their adventure tours. The text represented his brand perfectly and gave us a platform to further develop the marketing.

We used the tent as an opportunity to gather up the name and email addresses of those potentially interested in spending an afternoon on the water with the whales. We setup a spinning wheel offer prizes that ranged from 2 for 1 dinners from local pubs and restaurants to whale watching adventures. We collected 2,300+ email addresses in all which we marketed to through a series of marketing emails.

Technique #12: Positive ROI Facebook Ad Spend to Grow Followers

The benefits of a well managed Facebook advertising campaign often far outweighs the costs involved. This is the case with White Rock Sea Tours. We started by running a variety of carefully crafted paid ads to grow followers and to reach more potential adventure seekers by emphasizing the company's strengths, value proposition and differences.

We worked to maximize conversion and ROI by targeting those with specific interests and communities.

Free Discover Call

Client Feedback

Tequila Dodard

"If you want to really get it done and move the needle. James Martell and his SmarterLocal team are whom you want in your corner. I’ve listened to his podcast for years absorbing all the value he so freely gives. The knowledge, value, and experience he gives are second to none. TOP NOTCH! It was because of his experience I chose him as my mentor for my podcast and to work with him to revamp my website."

Tequila Dodard,
Host, Stand Out Be You
Dr. Cale Copeland BScN, DC

"I have worked with James and Arlene now for over 4 years. They have earned my trust and I’m grateful to have them on my team. They have done my website, search optimized it and shown me how to blog and podcast on my own. Their work has greatly contributed to the success of my business and I would refer them to any business owner looking to succeed online. Plus, they are great people."

Dr. Cale Copeland BScN, DC,
Victoria Family Chiropractic
Shawn Collins

"James is a one of a kind – an Internet marketing rock star. When he has spoken at Affiliate Summit, his sessions always receive a 10 out of 10. In a space with many imitators and pretenders, James is the real deal."

Shawn Collins,
Co-founder, Affiliate Summit
Co-Editor-in-Chief of FeedFront Magazine
Founder of GeekCast.FM

YES! I Want to Attract More Customers from the Internet!

Please book my complimentary Discovery Call to help us get to know each and to determine if we are a good match to transform your business together. We'll be asking questions and getting to know you and your business.

After a thorough evaluation, we will present you with a SmarterLocal Marketing Evaluation.