What do our oceans and the Internet have in common? As in the ancient Greek myth of Icarus, unless you’re careful you can drown in the water as well as in the sea of information that is the World Wide Web.
It’s my mission, as one of only two or three regularly published marketing columnists in the boating industry, to try to make life easier for those who are in the business of marketing marine goods and services by sharing with you what marketers outside the marine industry are thinking, saying and doing.
One way of achieving this is to cut through the flotsam and jetsam that make up so much of the Internet and share with you those websites and writers that provide genuine insight. This can be especially useful to solo practitioners who make up so much of our industry and who don’t always have a roomful of colleagues to brainstorm ideas.
I hope this will spur some creative juices and ideas as you try to unravel the conundrum that marketing, advertising and public relations have become in this digital age.
Great marketing is a fascinating and potentially rewarding endeavor because it requires you to use both the right and left sides of your brain. To do it well requires a fine mix of subjective creativity, as well as the ability to analyze all of the information that clutters your computer on a daily basis.
Here are some of the top online resources that I use to keep ahead of the curve. Although all of these websites are free, some do charge fees for certain services or in-depth information.
The tagline for MarketingProfs.com is “Real-World Education for Modern Marketers.” This website, which claims an audience of 600,000 marketing professionals, is filled with articles, podcasts, online seminars, tutorials, guides and reports on everything from advertising to word of mouth. You can opt to receive a free daily or weekly newsletter.
Recent articles I found useful, in order of complexity, were: “How to Consistently Deliver Great Ideas,” “How Survey Research Can Aid in PR and Marketing Planning,” and “Four Online Marketing Metrics That Actually Matter.”
If you are inclined to listen rather than read, you might be able to get more out of a podcast than an article, no matter how insightful. I found the 35-minute podcast “Marketing, PR, Social, Advertising: Geoff Livingston on Marketing Smarts” to be worth listening to, especially for his discussion on the importance of the “customer experience,” as well as how all of these strategies are being integrated in the pursuit of the elusive customer.
Fifty years ago last March, Bob Dylan proclaimed, “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.” Today’s corollary to that astute observation is that you’ve got to know your target audience before you aim your message.
For most marketing pros these days, your audience is at your fingertips in the database your company has been accumulating all these years. A 45-minute free MarketingProfs seminar titled “Is Your Database Delivering? Essential Elements of a Hardworking B2B Database” might well provide the keys to unlocking the corporate secrets your IT people are sitting on.
Another soup-to-nuts website that is brimming with information, but from the advertising perspective, is Adage.com, which allows you to consume seven articles a month free. It also offers a wide range of daily and weekly newsletters delivered directly to your email account.
Although Ad Age is filled with the comings and goings of major brand movers and shakers, its Web pages are filled with articles of interest, including, “Marketers Look to Digital as Cure-All,” “Welcome to the Video Revolution,” “What it Costs: Ad Prices from TV’s Biggest Buys to the Smallest Screens,” “Survey: Small Businesses Want Marketing Automation Software,” “How Marketers Can Reach Mobile-Obsessed Multicultural Millennials” and “China Just Overhauled Its Advertising Law: Here’s What You Need to Know.”
A new feature, Marketer’s Playbook, is an eight-part video series that explores how marketers can do their job better and smarter. This new video series zeroes in on effective marketing strategies through exclusive, behind-the-scenes visits with top marketers at national and international brands.
For those marketers who also integrate public relations into their marketing campaigns, PRnewsonline.com is another valuable source of free information. Its weekly email, “The Skinny,” has featured a number of concise how-to articles that may spark your thinking, including, “8 Rules to Sharpen Your PR Writing,” “6 Tips for Using Social Media in a Brand Crisis,” “5 Writing Questions You’re Too Embarrassed to Ask” (one of my favorites), “5 Steps to Building a Thought Leadership Campaign,” “4 Elements of a Successful Blog Strategy” and, “3 Ways to Resolve Conflicts Between PR and Marketing.”
Although all of these websites provide curated articles, I would be remiss if I didn’t include in this review a mention of LinkedIn and the scores of marketing, advertising and public relations groups that inhabit its platform. As I write this I am literally blown away by a post that Michael Grace just put up on the PR and Media Relations site, titled, “The Mega List of Online Marketing Tools.”
It’s a list with links to more than 300 tools, including analytics, mobile marketing tools and visual content creation. Yes, its scope may be mind-boggling, but the good news is that it’s all broken down into categories from which you can pick and choose.
For those times when you would like to bounce an idea off colleagues in the marine industry, I recommend the Marine Marketers of America LinkedIn site. I recently posted a question about visiting Taiwan’s boatbuilders and received replies from four folks who had already made the journey. Priceless!
Lastly, they don’t call it the World Wide Web for nothing. I also receive a daily news feed from “The News Leader in Luxury Marketing,” the Luxury Daily (luxurydaily.com). Why this website, which covers more than 25 industry sectors, does not include a segment on the marine industry is beyond me.
That said, it’s a good site to keep an eye on and follow the trends, especially if your product or service appeals to the affluent segment of society. And if you get hooked on its coverage, you can always make plans to attend its Luxury Insights Summit. This exclusive gathering was limited to 75 attendees this year.
Recent articles of interest include “Luxury Is a Commercial Notion That Rests on Experiential Ties,” “Four Trends Dominate Affluent Purchasing Post Recession” and my favorite, “845K Other Individuals Have Access to UHNW Assets.”
That’s “ultra high net worth” in case you’re not up on the latest lingo.
Michael Sciulla is president of Credibility & Co. Communications, as well as vice president of the Marine Marketers of America and a member of the board of directors of both Boating Writers International and the Marine Marketers of America. During a 28-year career at BoatUS he built the association’s brand as membership grew from 30,000 to 650,000 and testified more than 30 times before a number of congressional committees.
This article originally appeared in the June 2015 issue.