Probably 70% of marketing efforts in this industry are box-checking exercises. Who are you talking to?
By Ryan Skinner (email)
Tell me if this sounds familiar: A new pump/box/widget/port-service is going to be launched, so the marketing people put together direct mailings, a press release, maybe a press conference at a trade show, a product sheet, an advert for a few trade mags, a new product web-page, maybe an e-newsletter and (dare I say it?) a blog post.
Lots of marketing boxes are checked. We're good. Then someone asks the marketers: "So, who did we reach? Who read your stuff? Who liked it? Who came back for more information?" Then the marketers say, "hey, that's sales job!"
I take it for granted that at least 70% of marketers and marketing efforts in shipping (and probably more) work just like this.
Not only do marketers not know who is actually reading their stuff and coming back for business. They don't want to. That's right. I repeat: They don't want to. Why? Because those numbers wouldn't look good.
There's a terrible circle of failure in much marketing communications. Because you don't actually try to reach your targets in a measurable way, then you produce articles, presentations and collateral that suck. Yes, really. They suck. Then, unsurprisingly, they don't attract new business.
No wonder marketers don't want to measure it. This is a damned depressing cycle.
Once you start addressing the real audience (that is, those real people around the world with limited attention spans, but who might actually buy a product or service), you understand the real challenge. And you see your own failure to reach them, and you improve.
For so long, this hasn't been a problem in the shipping industry. How many shipping companies live off of the tremendous success of a few superstar salesmen, then use marketing as a vague brand-building exercise? Probably most of them.
That's not going to work anymore. Every company with any chance of success in this industry understands that it needs to scale up its business and reach globally, in a way that can't be achieved by hiring more sales dudes. Yes, they must actually start doing marketing. That is, doing it right.
And that's the missionary work I'm spending all my time on these days. Trying to explain the value of stories and ideas that don't actually infuriate/bore/avoid the shipping audience, getting those stories into a place that makes sense, and then studying who you've reached, how they've behaved, etc.
How many shipping marketers really know who they're talking to? Yeah, thought so.