The Next Generation of Divers

Back to School Time is here, which means it’s time for the annual Mindset List. Created in the mid-90’s to enlighten college professors about their new students, the Mindset List includes interesting and sometimes depressing facts about this year’s college freshman – the class of 2014.

Here are some examples:

  • This year’s college Frosh have never used a telephone with a cord
  • Czechoslovakia has never existed
  • Clint Eastwood is better known as a sensitive director than as Dirty Harry.
  • Nirvana is on the classic oldies station.
  • Children have always been trying to divorce their parents.
  • They have never seen a carousel of Kodachrome slides

Nirvana is on the classic oldies station?!? Now I really feel old. Some kid is probably wearing my old Doc’s and talking about how totally vintage they are – UGH.

Here’s another fun fact: Pizza Hut reports: half their orders come from mobile applications. Instead of phone calls, they’re getting orders via text message, iPhone app or website accessed from a smartphone.

This is our next generation of divers! They are wired, mobile and use their phones for everything except making phone calls.

Here are a few ways you can appeal to this new consumer:

#1 Students can earn college credit for taking PADI courses. Promote this opportunity on your website, enewsletter and give it a mention on your Facebook page.

#2 Find a college intern – in many areas the internship can be un-paid so long as the student is earning college credit. Read our hire an intern article for additional info. A “digital native” can help you effectively market to their generation.

#3 Give them the opportunity to buy something from you online. If you don’t have an eLearning link – add one. Young adults have been shoppers / consumers since infancy.

#4 Go where they are. Set up a Facebook page and link to it from your website. If you don’t have time to set up a Facebook page, see idea #2…

Read the complete Mindset List at Beloit College’s website.


Boy Scout Scuba Diving Merit Badge: What You Need to Know

School’s out and Boy Scouts are looking for ways to have fun and earn merit badges this summer. Will you be ready when a Scout Troop contacts your store?

The Scuba Merit Badge is fairly new, but it’s generated a lot of interest. Boy’s Life Magazine (circulation: 8.6 million) has Scuba Diving on its cover and diving will be featured prominently at the 2010 Boy Scout Jamboree – attended by over 40,000 Scouts from across the U.S.  

View our one hour webinar Scouting Out Opportunities for helpful information including:

  • Interviews with PADI retailers who have made Scouting a cornerstone of their business.
  • What to expect from a “round-table meeting.”
  • Learn more about the BSA’s structure.
  • Suggestions on how to offer Scouts a good deal without compromising your bottom line.

To view the webinar, click the link above and then choose the link for Scouting Out Opportunities. You’ll enter some information prior to viewing the recorded webinar. For more information on viewing recorded webinars, please check out our page on PADI Business Training Online.

For more information on the Scuba Diving Merit Badge requirements, review our article  new SCUBA Merit Badge. The article explains the six things a Scout must do to earn the scuba merit badge (certification is step four) and provide information on how to become a Scuba Merit Badge Counselor.

Groupon – It’s Like Getting Paid to Advertise

“It’s Like Getting Paid to Advertise”
How would you like to book 100-200 intros, sign-up dozens of new students, and drive thousands of hits to your website? There’s an e-marketing program called – that can do all three of those things, and they’ll pay you to do it. is an email program that connects local businesses with consumers. Several PADI retailers across the United States have already used to book dozens of new customers and bring in new income. 

One PADI store owner said, “It was like getting paid to advertise; I would offer a groupon every day if they’d let me.”

To hear from retailers who’ve used Groupon, and find out how it can benefit your business, join us next Wednesday June 2nd at 2pm Pacific Time for a teleconference. The program is for PADI IRRA Members only, please contact your sales rep or regional manager for information on how to sign up.

How does Groupon work?
  • Consumers subscribe to Groupon’s daily deal email.
  • The daily deal, offered by a different local business everyday is a group discount
  • There’s always a minimum buy in: 20-50 people have to purchase the daily deal (using a credit card) before it activates.
  • The local business is flooded with calls and their website is inundated with visitors.
  • Groupon collects the payments and keeps about 50% of the take
PADI Members who have used Groupon offered an “Introductory Scuba Lesson” (aka Discover Scuba experience). Sign-up rates have ranged from 94 to over 300. View scuba Groupons that have already run in: San Diego, Seattle and Pittsburg.
(email subscribers, please click through to view image above)


Get to know your local Groupon:
To view the Daily Deal for your city, visit, enter your email address and choose your city from the drop down list. You might even find a deal that will save you money! I’ve personally bought restaurant coupons and surf lessons. 


Click the chart below to view a list of the cities where Groupon is currently operator (or will soon).
If there isn’t a Groupon in your area– there are similar programs operating in other markets. Contact your PADI sales rep for more info.


And speaking of getting paid to advertise…
Read our recent article Matching Funds Available for TV Advertising.

Host a Discover Continuing Education Event

Why Don’t We Apply The Discover Scuba Philosophy Beyond Open Water?
A Discover Scuba experience is a great way to get non-divers acquainted with scuba.Why don’t we do this with our continuing education courses?

Why not: Discover Advanced Open Water?
Some instructors utilize multilevel training – introducing Open Water Divers to the Rescue Diver program because they’re sharing a large pool with a Rescue class, for example. This is great if you can do it.
Another way to promote your con-ed courses is to have a Discover Continuing Education Pool Day. Here are a few things you could offer:

  • Rescue demo’s
  • DPVs into the pool
  • A buoyancy clinic
  • Create a “reef” out of plastic toys for divers to photograph
  • A topside navigation course
  • Dry suit demo’s

To get the creative juices flowing, here is a sample event checklist.

If you’re interested in hosting a Continuing Education Pool Day this spring, contact Adrianne Miller (Adrianne.Miller at padi dot com) to receive a customizable email blast and flyer.

15 Minute Marketing Idea #8 – QR Codes

15 Minute Marketing Idea #8

What is this thing?

It’s a QR code…. and in 2010, you’ll start seeing a lot more of them.

A QR code is a special barcode that acts like an internet hyperlink. When scanned by a smart phone (such as an iPhone) it will display a webpage, business card, or message.

QR codes are an easy, cheap and fun way to promote your business.

Read on! By the end you’ll know how to create these codes and use them for nefarious guerilla marketing purposes.

That funny-looking box above represents a link to (sorry amigos, this was our old blog – new defunct). Scan it with a smartphone, and PADI Instructor News will appear on the screen.

The code isn’t doing much sitting on this webpage – but imagine if I printed out 300 of these codes on sticker paper and put them in every bathroom stall at DEMA? Besides a possible misdemeanor for me, it would be a sly marketing move: capturing the attention of smartphones users – anyone with an iPhone, Android phone, Palm Pre, etc.

This is pretty powerful marketing – that costs next to nothing. Additionally, you reaching customers who don’t mind spending money on cool gizmos. According to ComScore – over 38 million Americans own smartphones already and 64% plan to purchase a smart phone in the near future.

Creating a QR code is extremely easy. Pasted below is a screengrab from – one of many free QR code generators.

As you can see it’s three short steps.

#1 Decide where you want the user to be directed to: (website, telephone number, etc).

#2 Type in the web address (or phone number) into the box

#3 Print!

How to utilize QR Codes

Step 1: What is Your Goal?

  • Increase membership in your dive club?
  • Book more divers into an upcoming dive trip or charter?
  • Promote a new product?
  • Spread the word about your internship opportunity?

Step 2: What do you want people to see?
When the QR code is scanned, it will bring up a webpage link, virtual business card, phone number, or a few lines of text – your choice. Whatever you choose will display on the phone’s screen.

Let’s say your goal is to bring new people into your dive club.

The QR code should point at a webpage (or text) describing your next dive club meeting date, time, location and topics. Be sure to say why your dive club meeting will be the most exciting night of the year. Maybe you’re having an interesting guest speaker. Maybe there will be manufacturer-sponsored prizes. You’ve got a new customer’s attention, make it as exciting as possible.

Step 3: Go Nuts!
Create your QR code (see recommended websites below) and distribute!

Continue reading “15 Minute Marketing Idea #8 – QR Codes”

PADI and Boy Scouts of America Scuba Diving Merit Badge

PADI Instructor with Boy Scouts
Boy Scouts and adventure have always been synonymous. By 2010, Scouts who want to explore the underwater world can earn a scuba diving merit badge.

Before we go any farther, there’s something I have to disclose: I was a Campfire girl, so, in this article I’ll be faking my way through Boy Scout-ese. For those of you who were scouts, my apologies if I flub some of the terminology.

Completion of PADI’s Open Water course is one of six steps for a scout to earn a scuba diving merit badge. Most of these steps the scout will complete with their merit badge counselor, but in case you’re curious here are all six:

#1 – First aid for diving-related illnesses and injuries
#2 – Swimming merit badge
#3 – Discuss scuba diver’s code
#4 – Open Water certification
#5 – Discuss the underwater ecosystem
#6 – Research scuba diving occupations and what experience is needed for each

Read a detailed description of the SCUBA merit badge requirements from the BSA’s website.

Each scout will need a set of standard PADI Open Water materials, or they can enroll in eLearning (min. age: 10). Additionally, they will purchase a scuba diving merit badge booklet from their Boy Scout Council Store.

Read the Boy Scouts of America brochure describing the new Scuba Merit Badge.

To find out if there is a Boy Scout troop near you, use the troop locator on You can also read our overview about becoming a merit badge counselor. You don’t have to become a merit badge counselor to certify scouts, however, it can be beneficial.

Before making contact with your local council or troop you should be ready to answer the following questions:

Will you offer a private class just for the scouts?
Can parents be in the class too?
Will you offer a group rate?
What about a special rate for troup leaders who want to continue through Divemaster?
What is your policy if a scout misses a class/pool session?
Do you have special mouthpieces for boys with braces?
What is your experience working with young people?

Something else to consider: Boy Scout groups often need to do fund-raising. 

Your scuba-fied scouts can be great ambassadors for your business. Create Discover Scuba Diving vouchers and have the scouts sell them and share in the income. Read our complete write up on the discover scuba fundraising idea.

Read PADI’s official announcement about our partnership with the BSA.

Who’s Yelping About You? Claim Your Online Reputation

15 Minute Marketing Idea #7
Claim Your Online Reputation

Consumer directory websites such as Yelp and Yahoo Local receive millions of hits per day. As a result, reviews of your business may be listed before your “real” website in search results.

For example:

I typed “Mission Viejo bookstore” into Google. The results are shown at left.

Yelp and Yahoo Local are the #1 and #2 search results after the map listings. The “real” websites for each individual bookstore appear much farther down the page.

Both Yahoo and Yelp allow business owners to claim their online listing. Add a description of your business and a photo or two – for free. You can also receive notifications when a new review is posted about your business.

Here are the options for each website:


Last month, more than 24 million people used to find local business recommendations and post reviews. The website has experienced explosive growth (80% per year) and supports mobile search applications for iPhone and Blackberry.

To edit your business information, visit and, at the top of the screen, type in your business name in the “Search for” box and your city (or island) in the “Near” box.

When the listing appears, click “Is This Your Business?” If your business is not listed, you can start a new listing by creating an account.

To improve your ranking on, ask customers to write reviews of your business. The higher average score your business has, the higher it will appear in Yelp’s list.

Yahoo Local

Yahoo has one free and two paid options.

The free business listing on Yahoo! allows you to enter your address, phone number and website. You can also put your business in up to 5 categories and list the products and services you offer.

For $9.95/ month you get everything in the free listing plus add your logo, a business description, photos, and offer coupons. For $25/ month you get all the options described so far plus, “guaranteed premium placement” in their search results.

This is the seventh article in a series. Read more 15 minute marketing ideas.

15 minute marketing idea #6

15 Minute Marketing Idea #6
Retail Hide and Seek

Generally speaking, the more time a customer spends browsing your retail area, the more likely the are to purchase something. Some companies (most notably Trader Joe’s) challenge customers to find a hidden object in the store. If the customer can find it, they receive a prize.

A clothing retailer in Newport Beach used the same technique. She’d hide a small antique in her displays. If a customer found it, they received a coupon for their next visit. It encouraged customers who ordinarily would drive past the shop to come in and browse.

diver line artYou could also do this online. Find a goofy photo and post it to a random part of your website. In your next email blast, invite customers to participate in your online scavenger hunt. This encourages your customers to spend time browsing your website (learning about upcoming classes, trips, etc). If students locate your funny photo, have them email you the web link in exchange for some kind of prize.

Prizes can be coupons, store-branded apparel, free underwater camera rental, the winner’s photo on your website, whatever you want. Be clear about the rules and post a disclaimer such as “limit one prize per person.”

Thanks to Penny for this great idea.

This is the sixth article in a series. Read more 15 minute marketing ideas.

Gen X, Gen Y, Baby Boomer Buying Habits

Marketing Scuba to Different Generations – Survey Results

The most recent edition of The Undersea Journal examines the three major generations in our world today: Echo-Boomers, Generation X, and Baby Boomers. We find out what aspects of scuba diving appeal to each generation, and how to tailor a marketing message for each group.

PADI's Undersea Journal second quarter 2009 cover

Below are the results of a survey we conducted in December 2008 as part of the research for this article. For an explanation of how these findings translate into specific marketing opportunities, please read the article in the most recent Undersea Journal (pictured above).

Buying Habits of Consumers from Different Generations

Total # of respondents: 273 (55% were non-divers).
Brands admired by all generations: Apple and Google.
Runners up: Nintendo, Microsoft, REI, Toyota, eBay, Sony, Pixar, Target, Starbucks.

How much do you consider a splurge?
Most common answer from Boomers: $100 or more.
Most common answer from Echo-Boomers – $20.

How much do you budget for vacations?
The older Gen-Xers and Boomers tied for the highest dollar amount budgeted for vacations: $2000 – $2999 per person. 25% of Echo-Boomers reported, “someone else pays for my vacations.”

Who spends the most time online (for fun as opposed to work)?
Respondents between 26-30 years old spend the most time online – for fun. Roughly one in three spend two hours per day online. One in four spend more than three hours per day online.

What generation has the most free time?
The 63+ folks (the generation before baby boomers), followed by “Classic” Boomers (52-62 years old). The Classic Boomers reported having either15-20 hours of free time each week and 7-14 hours per week (tie).

What generation works the most?
Older Gen-Xers (39-43 years old) reported spending the most hours per week at work. 69% reported working 41-60 hours per week. The second-most hard-working group was the cusp between Gen X and Echo-Boomers. The majority puts in 41-50 hours per week at work.

Echo-Boomers Highlights:
Echo-Boomers say they have between 4-14 hours per week of free time.
Their fun time on the internet is spent on email (#1), social networking (#2) and viewing entertainment (#3). Of those surveyed, 62% became divers because a parent or family member dives.

Income (before taxes) by Age Group
Under 25: $28k
25-34: $57k
35-44: $75K
45-54: $77k
55-64: $65k
65-74: $46k
75 and older: $29k

Interesting findings based on gender, and divers vs non-divers


Male vs. Female

Males reported working longer hours (62% worked 40-60 hours/ week) than females, but both reported having similar amounts of free time.

Priorities for both genders were very similar:spending time with family, my health, and owning my own home ranked in the top three for both men and women.

Factors that influence my decision to try something new were also the same.
Top three: it fits my budget / it’s something I can do with my family / the ability to challenge myself.

Males have higher threshold for impulse spending. When asked, “how much do you consider a splurge,” both genders’ #1 answer was $100 – but for males, the #2 answer was $500 (versus $50 for women)

Similarly, males also budget more for vacations. Female’s top answer was $500-$999 per person, but for men it was $1500 to $1999.


Divers vs. Non-Divers

What do you splurge on?
Divers #1 answer was travel. For non divers travel was #3.

What’s the most expensive purchase you’ve ever made? Divers’ #1 answer was $1k – $2999 followed by $15k+.
Non-divers top answer was $1k – $2999 followed by $3k – $4999.

Similarly, divers had a much higher budget for their vacations: $2k – $2999 was most popular answer (versus $400-$999 for non-divers).

The non-diving group also skewed quite a bit younger.
60% of respondents were under 40 and 37% were under 30. Of the diving group, 54% were 40 or older.

How To Use This Information
The Undersea Journal* cover story discusses specific marketing tactics, you can read an excerpt here. Feel free to leave feedback and comments below.

*The issue began mailing 23 April 2009. Please allow two weeks for your copy to arrive (6 weeks for outer-island members). If your magazine does not arrive, contact PADI’s customer service department at 800 729 7234 ext. 2495.


15 minute marketing idea #5 – digital decor

15 Minute Marketing Idea #5
Digital DecorPimp Your iPhone
Bling your Blackberry
Trick Out Your Treo


Google G1 with scuba diving digital decorThe number of people using “smartphones” (cell phones which deliver email and the world wide web) is growing rapidly. According to ComScore*: Mobile Internet Usage Doubled in 2008 and one in five americans now own a smartphone (iPhone, Blackberry, G1, Treo, etc).

“Mobile Marketing” is the buzzword of 2009. Here’s an easy way to get your feet wet with mobile marketing:

During your next DSD or Open Water pool session, take photos of your students. Send the photos to your students by email or text and remind them that their under water mug shot makes a great facebook profile photo or mobile phone wallpaper.

Digital decor is especially useful for families. Suggest that Mom / Dad use their child’s underwater photo as their phone book entry. For the parent, it’s bragging rights: your kid is a yellow-belt in karate? Well, my kid can breathe underwater. Also, whenever Junior calls, the child’s smiling scuba face will provide a constant reminder of your business.

* Comscore monitors the popular websites and overall web usage. They’re kind of like the Neilsen TV ratings for the internet.

This is the fifth article in a series. Read more 15 minute marketing ideas.