Article and Photos Provided By: Jean-Marc Claes
During the many years running my scuba business, I was always focused on how to create visibility and exposure but not just throwing thousands of $$$/€€€ away in advertising in magazines, newspapers, internet, websites, etc.
I wanted to be outside those boxes and have more control over them.
So, after some days of thinking, I started to have an idea on how to invest in something that would give me a lot of advantages, possibilities and more! At that time, I did not realize how far this idea would get me…
The idea I had was to create an inflatable diver, like the inflatable air castles for children to jump on…but not a small one; I wanted one that was ‘high’ and would draw attention.
I wanted it to be made in a material that would out stand summer and winter, to be able to use it outside (in front of the shop) or inside during events, dive shows, etc. I wanted to move it quickly (so inflatable would make it light and easy to pack).Having it connected to an air pump would ensure that it would always be erected so even a tiny hole would not make it fall over.
After some research, the material of the tubes used to make inflatable boats turned out to have the best qualities I was looking for. The next step was to find a company to construct it for me as I had already made the design. I could also do it myself, it was all about mastering the cutting and assembling process, but I decided that it would be too much to invest in materials/tools/time I did not have. The result became a 6mtr high (18ft) inflatable diver weighing 50kg.
Next, the marketing adventure started, and this adventure lasted many, many years and is still ongoing. At first, the inflatable diver got a position in front of the scuba store. Every morning, when opening the shop, we turned on the air pump, and the diver would erect itself, always in the same position! Cars would stop, and people started taking pictures of it!
After some months, people started using/talking about it as a landmark… When you see the Giant diver at the dive shop, turn left, etc.
The next step was to offer the diver ‘for rent’. Dive clubs and other dive shops could rent it for the weekend to be used with their ongoing event. I had made sure that my publicity was NOT printed on the diver. Instead, I had chosen to have attachments on the diver’s exterior so that we could hang banners/flags on the diver. Not having my printed publicity on the diver made renting it out easier.
After contacting the organisation responsible for the upcoming dive show, I made them a deal that they would be able to get my inflatable diver to use at the entrance of the venue. In return, I asked for a nice booth space at the show (a larger area than what I would be able to pay for). Guess what…
I also received a prime position, and now, ten years later, I still get the floor space, they still want the diver to return for every show, and I even invested in two more divers, so I have three in total. Even after ten years, the investment of designing and having the diver made is still paying off. The inflatable divers took me everywhere. If you want one, let me know, and I will make it happen for you.
You will be surprised to what level you will get with them, and the only thing good divers need is…AIR!
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