In today’s constantly evolving world, where buying trends and channels change at the speed of lightning, making your marine brand stand out and appear trustworthy to the right audience is challenging. What once was effective seems not to be working any longer. Blogging is on the decline. A recent study by BuzzSumo, a robust research and monitoring tool, revealed that content marketing is 50% less effective than it was three years ago, and it’s still trending down. Social media’s organic reach isn’t dead, but it is on life support.
Don’t get me wrong ‒ blogs and social media are still significant content-marketing efforts that should not be ignored. They’re the means by which you attract followers and build a list of people who want to hear from you regularly, but if you’re like most companies in the marine industry, blogs, and social media posts are not reliable revenue streams.
Despite the content saturation, marketing remains highly effective and profitable when done right. The question, then, is how do you do it right? How do you provide something of value to your audience, and make your marketing efforts worth it?
In this article, I provide a few strategies and tactics that you can implement in your marketing to push your marine business out in an effective way and help it shine in today’s content-saturated world.
The Road to Success: Strategy Before Tactics
As Peter Drucker, known as “the man who invented management,” once said:
“Strategy is doing the right things. Tactics is doing things right.”
The most common mistake that I see among businesses in our industry is that they jump right into individual marketing tactics, and start burning marketing dollars, without a strong strategic foundation in place. After many years working for and with marine-related businesses, I can tell you that none of the tactics matter until you are crystal clear about which direction you are going.
If you want to improve your marketing and lay out the foundation for successful campaigns, take the time to answer these fundamental questions first:
- Who is your perfect buyer? What do they want?
- What pains and problems do they have?
- What solutions does your company provide to make those problems go away?
- How can you make those solutions remarkable? Why are you the authority to solve your customer’s problems?
We aren’t just in a race to get our boats sold or chartered; we are also in a race to communicate why our customers need them in their lives. In a nutshell, how well you understand what your client needs is proportional to how effective your marketing becomes.
Your Website Is the Hub of Your Online Efforts
With so many digital marketing tactics and channels being used today, your website should be at the center of all your online endeavors. Rather than operating in isolation, all your digital efforts should be fully integrated, prioritizing brand consistency, with your website serving as the home base.
The old-school advertising methodology of blasting your message out is long gone. In this time and age, you should think of your website as a hub and not as a megaphone, providing relevant and engaging content to all the people visiting your site.
If You Confuse, You Loose
“As a rule, people should be able to go to your website and understand what you offer within five seconds. If it takes them longer than five seconds, you’re losing sales,”
says Donald Miller in his book The Story Brand, where he shows how to create better messaging to help businesses cut through the noise and stand out in the crowd.
Here are five things your website should include to gain clarity and convert more browsers into customers:
- Display on your header an easy-to-understand tagline that clearly says what you do.
- Master the conversion, including a strong and prominent call to action.
- Include some element of failure. Tell your prospects what problem(s) you solve or the bad things that might happen if they don’t work with you.
- Visually display the success your potential customers will experience when they purchase or charter a boat from you. Tell them what great things will happen if they engage with your brand.
- Simplify what your company offers into bite-sized categories.
Become Obsessed Over Customer Questions
“57% of the purchase decisions are made before a prospect contacts you” Gartner.
According to a study by leading research and advisory firm Gartner, “57% of the purchase decisions are made before a prospect contacts you.” And this is true for offline as well as online businesses. In addition, Google estimates that 97% of all business transactions start online, even though only 6% are completed online.
Taking into consideration these figures, it stands to reason that knocking down potential objections and answering the most critical questions is a smart strategy. In the book They Ask You Answer, Marcus Sheridan defines five questions that should be addressed as they are the ones that move the needle towards the buying decisions:
- Comparisons (“this vs. that”)
- Best in class.
I’m afraid that the vast majority of the businesses in our industry are not answering those questions. Hiding their knowledge of what buyers most want to know is not a good strategy in the age of transparency. If you want to build trust and promote engagement, you need to start creating the type of content that matters the most for your audience. Don’t leave room for your competitor to steal your thunder!
Want some inspiration? Check Sportsman’s website at www.sportsmanboatsmfg.com, which provides real up-front pricing empowering clients to get educated about its products with over 300 short videos embedded throughout the site. On the superyacht side, Dynamiq was the first company to introduce an online configurator, allowing the customer to customize a superyacht and get a detailed quote for it.
The Power of Video
“Videos produce 1800% more engagement” Hubspot.
A lot has been said about the power of video marketing, and by now, you might have a pretty clear idea of why video should be a critical part of your marketing efforts. According to a recent Wyzowl video marketing survey, “…92% of marketers who use video say that it’s an important part of their marketing strategy…. Perhaps most strikingly, 88% of video marketers reported that video gives them a positive ROI….”
If you haven’t done videos yet, get started now. And if you are already doing videos, start producing content that replies to the queries your core audiences have ‒ your job is to answer those questions.
A smart tool to find out which type of questions your audience is asking is Answer the Public; it provides an overview of the kind of inquiries people are typing into Google and Bing.
Once you identify the key questions, you should research on YouTube, looking for the video results that come up when you ask those specific questions. You will notice that there are still a lot of inquiries related to our industry that are not answered; this is a massive opportunity for you to stand out.
In addition to addressing questions via video, consider using the medium across your website, including videos on the product/service pages, your email signature, and even integrating video content into the sales process.
Stay Relevant in the Current Landscape
It’s a scary and exciting time for business owners and marketers alike everywhere. If you want to make an impact and get a positive ROI, you need to look at new ways to turn heads and increase engagement, defying the strength of the algorithm and staying as close to the consumer as possible!