In praise of WoodenBoat


My inaugural blog posting gives a nice shout-out to the only logical choice: WoodenBoat Publications. Of course the core publication, WoodenBoat Magazine, is a gem, always my favorite read. But the really cool thing is the larger organization.

I am fascinated by organizations that have figured out how to create a “wrap-around” customer experience – they don’t just have a set of products, but a suite that hits many aspects of a lifestyle. In this case, the lifestyle is near and dear: the wooden boater. This larger view of the organization came to me a year ago when I finally took a course at the affiliated WoodenBoat School, Elements of Boat Design, Paul Gartside.

My first experience was arriving on the WoodenBoat “campus” in Brooklin, ME – it is a stunningly beautiful property fronting a picturesque Maine cove. So point one, the physical atmosphere is absolutely perfect.

View WoodenBoat campus

You then meet with everyone in the school that week to get an overview. This is how it goes – all meals will be communal with open seating – you will interact with various people from around the world – literally – that all have a passion for wooden boats and boating. Then they get to after hours activities. It turns out that the organization owns a fleet of small wooden boats, all mored in the cove above. We were strongly encouraged – nearly commanded – to use them. Point three – use the boats, study the boats, drink in the aura even more. This was the most amazing concept – to really pull the experience together by getting people in the boats, able to appreciate them up close. The presence of the WoodenBoat Store, the library, the magazine offices, and the fine boatyards down the road just completed the picture. It was summer camp for wooden boat enthusiasts.

So coming out of that week, the organization clearly had one happy customer (I’d dare say many more), but this was about more than a customer buying into a brand. It was about cementing love for a lifestyle. Not only am I more likely to purchase again, I am also more likely to support the wider wooden boat community and help grow the entire pie. A rising tide floating all (wooden) ships, if you will.

Of course, as you will see, hooking me was not exactly a hard task…

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