Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Jump In

(1:01) If you have been following the Minute for some time then you are familiar with my marketing philosophy. You can always find past Minutes on my blog. The link is on the left.

(0:56) Although I received my MBA when traditional media (print, TV, radio) still dominated, I worked in high tech so experienced firsthand the influence of the digital world. As that has migrated into what we now call Social Media, the world changed. Power and influence has shifted dramatically away from the "experts" and from the businesses themselves into the hands of the consumers. It has been an uncertain and sometimes scary shift for many but I believe it offers huge opportunities for high quality businesses small and large. It has really leveled the playing field.

(0:44) You no longer need to spend huge sums in print media to get noticed. A well planned and executed digital strategy will provide far more for far less. But you must be willing to jump in and experiment - remember, embrace failure!

(0:38) Designed into the heart of eBoatCards is the philosophy that commercial enterprises have much to offer the boating community. And that by participating in meaningful ways the businesses can win new customers. The trick is figuring out how to become part of the useful content and not just noise (don't be spam).

(0:29) Now is the time to join eBoatCards and begin exploring. It is still very new but is adding hundreds of new users and groups daily. So poke around as we grow and think about how you can contribute. I'll be looking at some ideas over the coming months but this is new, so I don't have all the answers. I hope to learn from your ideas and experiences as well.

(0:21) The first thing you need to do is create an eBoatCard for your marina, boatyard or business:

- Go to http://www.eboatcards.com and enter your ActiveCaptain email account and password at the top. You will be prompted to create an eBoatCard. Create only one for your business. Let everyone share that one card.

- Select the type that best fits your business: marina, boatyard, or business. If you are a sponsor, contact us to add a sponsor designation to your card.

- Fill in the information, read and agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy, and upload a profile image. I suggest your image be your logo or some other image that will indicate your business. You can always upload or change your image at a later time. Then select Create New Card.

(0:08) You can now join groups, search for boats you know, and start putting in blog entries. Now is the perfect time to play while the site builds. Think outside of what you've done in the past. I think it's an exciting time. Jump in!

(0:02) And that's the marina minute.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Don't Be Spam

(1:02) The beauty and the wonder of the internet and the digital technology that surrounds it is the easy access we all have to information and to each other. The scourge and the frustration is the easy access everyone has to us.

(0:53) Spam, banner ads, and fake SEO - digital technologies fall prey to abuse in new ways that affect all of us. If there's a new way to reach consumers, there will be someone quick to misuse it. Think of your own experience. Whether it's your inbox overrun with spam or Google searches that turn up useless sites, you are less likely to respond to the messages in the future and more likely to look for ways to turn the message off if you are not getting the information you need or want.

(0:40) Do not let your message become spam. Don't become that message that I want to get past, remove, or block. Be the message I'm looking for or are pleasantly surprised to find. Be the message that I seek out and want more information about.

(0:33) Often the difference between the two is providing the message boaters want to hear rather than the one you want to give them. The key is crafting your message to meet the needs and desires of the boaters you are trying to reach. After all, it's not about you, it's about the boaters.

(0:26) When you are considering your message, think of what you can offer that will help the boater. For example, if you are crafting a promotional message, do not simply list your amenities. To begin with, these are already listed in the appropriate sections of the ActiveCaptain marker data. Instead, highlight something that is unique like a nice dog park or a lap pool. List events that will draw boaters to the area and to your marina. Or write about something that has changed like newly renovated docks or bathhouses.

(0:14) When you are looking to contribute it is best not to simply present a promotion. Instead offer help, advice, and information. Don't say, "Come to my marina!" Say, "If you like jazz, don't miss the upcoming festival at..." This will put your marina name before all targeted boaters in a way that will be read and appreciated.

(0:05) Become an ambassador offering help and assistance and you will earn goodwill and business.

(0:02) And that's the marina minute.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

It's Gotta Be Real

(0:50) I often speak to marinas who are struggling to understand, manage, and meet today's dramatically changed consumer expectations. The internet, mobile technology, and social media have created consumers who are no longer passive recipients of your marketing messages. They demand more and better information. They want access 24/7. And they actively seek and give advice and opinions with their peers.

(0:41) I've dedicated several Minutes to exploring these changes when I discussed the marketing concept ZMOT (Zero Moment of Truth).

(0:36) My favorite quote from that series was from Kim Kadlec of Johnson & Johnson, "The traditional ad model is interrupting content, but the question now is: 'How do you become a part of the content?' How do you weave into somebody's experience in a way that's beneficial rather than detracting from that experience? That's the challenge and the opportunity."

(0:28) Look for ways that you can become part of the content. But that is just the beginning. A key component is to offer content that boaters want to see and will even seek out. Poor, irrelevant, or dishonest content will be rejected and will cause your potential customers to turn away. The key is to be "beneficial" and not "detracting".

(0:21) You see, we all have far more choices than ever before and this applies to where we seek information. Gone are the days where businesses could easily control the message. This is good for quality businesses with nothing to hide. I tell marinas "It's gotta be real!"

(0:14) So as you approach new technologies, new concepts, new opportunities, and new vehicles for your messages, think about how and what you can contribute to the content that boaters are seeking. Make your contribution useful and you will attract the attention of boaters.

(0:09) For example, don't simply tell me you're the best. If that is true your reviews will reflect it. Instead, give me a reason to come to the area, provide some expertise that will get you noticed, or highlight a service or amenity that boaters need. Give me something real.

(0:02) And that's the marina minute.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Embrace Failure

(1:01)  I'd like to discuss a concept I believe is critical to successful marketing but makes many feel discomfort. To reach new levels of success as individuals and businesses, you must learn to embrace failure.

(0:56) It might be hard to think of failure as something positive but some of history's greatest minds have acknowledged the role of failure in ultimate success. Thomas Edison, Theodore Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Robert Kennedy are just a few who have acknowledged that true success can only be accomplished by not being afraid to fail along the way.

(0:49) I talk to marinas who are struggling with how to deal with the rapidly changing world of technology. They struggle with ways to utilize its power to reach out to their current and potential customers. There is no shortage of people and businesses willing to offer the golden solution - SEO, Facebook, Twitter, mass emails, banner ads. I'm often asked, "what's the best thing to do." The truth is, I don't know. And each "best thing" will change depending on the goals and needs of each organization.

(0:38) Whenever there are huge paradigm shifts, like the ones caused by the digital world we now live in, the old ways no longer hold. New ways of doings things emerge and evolve. While change often brings uncertainty, it also presents the greatest opportunities. But you've got to be willing to experiment and you can't be afraid to fail.

(0:29) The critical key with experimentation is to develop and implement your plan using your best information and resources available. Then measure the results. This measurement step is critical and is often ignored.

(0:21) Next, learn from the process and use the knowledge to develop and implement your next experiment plan. It is important, especially with new concepts, to reach beyond that comfortable place. Try something you've never tried before and don't worry about ultimate success or failure. It is only failure if you don't try something new or don't learn from everything you try.

(0:11) Embracing failure is not a pass to ignore your homework. And you must develop and implement your marketing plan with care. What I am saying is to not be afraid to sometimes have a plan fall short. Because that fear is what will prevent you from finding that golden idea or that new concept that will take you to the next level of success.

(0:02) And that's the marina minute.