Marketing Leadership in a Digital World

Using these five strategies will keep your business on a course for success
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For marine industry marketers, the pandemic was a game-changer. The lack of in-person events, trade shows and personal communication eliminated many traditional channels from the marketing mix, and the focus quickly shifted to digital solutions.

Businesses rapidly accelerated their digital transformation efforts, and digital strategies for sales and marketing initiatives were thrust to the forefront. Regardless of digital maturity level prior to the pandemic, marketers looked to a variety of digital tools (such as paid search, paid social media, email marketing, virtual trade shows and more) to reach customers. This shift underscored the importance and effectiveness of digital channels in reaching consumers.

As traditional marketing channels become available again, it’s important that marketing leaders take advantage of this shift and provide some structure moving forward. Here are five marketing leadership strategies that can help you build your new playbook.


Ensure that marketing initiatives are tied to company goals. Organizational buy-in is easier to achieve when you can demonstrate a direct connection between your efforts and the corporate vision that executive leadership lays out. This is especially true with new digital initiatives. A documented marketing strategy communicated companywide will help build a foundation for success.

Reward Innovation

Innovation is not just a buzzword. A marketing leader should create an atmosphere that encourages and rewards new ideas. Consider creating an innovation council, a weekly marketing-innovation brainstorming session or an innovation contest to help foster creative thinking. Solicit ideas from stakeholders throughout the company. The next great marketing idea doesn’t have to originate in the marketing department. Take advantage of the wealth of knowledge that your company’s employees have to help you communicate with your consumers.

Leverage Data

The story of Billy Beane, which you may recall from the book or movie Moneyball, is a great example of the value of data analytics. It’s the story of how baseball scouts leveraged data and statistical analysis to change the way they recruited players. As a marketing leader, it’s your job to do for your organization what Beane did for Major League Baseball’s Oakland Athletics. Develop a system of measurement and attribution to understand how your customers engage with your brand, and where your sales are coming from. Ensure that every campaign begins with a specific goal and a success metric that can be measured. Marketing leaders rely on data-driven decision-making to help inform their efforts and evaluate success.

Tolerate Failure

To borrow a baseball phrase, you have to swing for the fences. New tools, new ad platforms, new social media channels and rapid changes in consumer behavior are constantly going to emerge. Your playbook has to allow for a modicum of failure, and your team has to be empowered to take chances. If 100 percent of your marketing efforts are successful, then you’re likely leaving opportunity on the field. Effective
marketing leaders understand how to balance the tried-and-true techniques with new and innovative solutions to generate sales and contribute to the bottom line.

Invest in Education

Subject-matter expertise is critical in a digital-driven world. Today’s marketers have to be practitioners of paid search, email marketing, social media marketing and marketing automation. Knowledge is required to perform these tasks. Online webinars, virtual or in-person conferences, or subject-specific workshops are all educational options. Consider the value of an agency partner that is willing to share knowledge and help train your team. (The marketing services team at Active Interest Media’s Marine Group, which publishes Soundings Trade Only, works with companies of all sizes to improve their marketing effectiveness. This type of training is part of our business model.) Regardless of the source of education that you choose, be purposeful in seeking out training. Make it a recurring investment.

As the world moves along a path of health and economic recovery, digital tools will continue to play a significant role in marketing efforts. Now is not the time to go back to the old way of doing business. Savvy marketing leaders will balance traditional marketing tools with new digital technologies. The five strategies listed here will help you solidify your role as a marketing leader within your company and this industry. 

In-Person Bay Bridge Boat Show Sells Out

Attendance was sold out at the Bay Bridge Boat Show, which ran from April 15 to 18 at the Bay Bridge Marina in Stevensville, Md.

The show manager, Annapolis Boat Shows, worked with county and local health officials on safety protocols for the show. “After a long year of the pandemic, it was so nice to meet customers in person and have that personal interaction that you don’t get over the phone or through email,” says Tracy Paugels from Honda PowerSports of Crofton, Md.

For more on Annapolis Boat Shows, go to

Eric Dallin is vice president of marketing innovation for Active Interest Media’s Marine Group, which includes Soundings Trade Only.

This article was originally published in the June 2021 issue.


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