Things digital marketing and sailing have in common


Things digital marketing and sailing have in common

Lots of jargon

When I first started sailing I had no idea. So I did a course called Start Yachting where they didn't really teach you to sail. They really just taught you what things on the boat were called, and a few very rudimentary concepts. Suddenly I was a much better sailor. When someone yelled at me "PULL ON THAT HALYARD!" I knew what to do, even if it was the wrong one. 

When I first started working in advertising I had no idea. I'd cut my teeth in digital agencyland and had been running my own business for seven years. I had to google what "Above the line" meant and what FMCG stood for. So I did a course called Marketing 101. And realised I did know quite a bit about marketing already, I just had different words for things.

Fear factor  

Telling people about The Big Trip usually elicits one of two responses; Jealousy or fear. Anyone who has suffered sea-sickness usually goes a bit green too. I don't think I've ever stepped on a yacht and not felt a slight sense of dread myself. 

But then lines are cast and out you go. If racing you're too busy to worry. If cruising you're having too much fun. Unless you're sailing with someone who takes unnecessary risks, that fear dissipates quickly and the sheer joy of it takes over. 

I've never really been afraid of digital change, but I've seen it in plenty of people's eyes over the years.  I do understand the concern around its complexity and the seemingly endless new trends it presents. 

I've seen clients get completely turned around in their fear of digital marketing though. I had one client who was very anti about setting up social media accounts, concerned it would open them up for a wide range of criticism. A year later they had an active social media presence, and were coming to me with ideas to push it even further. 

The Never ending quest for optimisation

My sailing instructor once said to me; "If you see two boats going in the same direction, at least one of them is racing". There's a million and one variables on a boat that will increase boat speed. Good enough is not good enough when racing and the micro adds up to the win. I've seen really amazing sailors who don't just read wind on the water, but rather two wind shifts ahead as though they can see into the future. It's all about optimising to the best possible outcome. 

Digital marketing is no different and there's very few campaigns that can be set-and-forget. Constant tinkering and testing is a must in order to get the most out of your budget to meet your objectives. If you're waiting until the end of a campaign to view your reporting you're way too late. That quest for ongoing improvement and near-perfection is what makes all the difference between the layman and the professional. 




What is consulting anyway?


What is consulting anyway?

Consultant is one of those terms that have been assigned to me over the years that I have taken a while to get comfortable with. Like Web Designer (I'm not a designer) or Digital Strategist (I laughed when I first heard that term). 

Don't ask me for my definition as I'm still working on it but I believe these characteristics need to be in play in order to be true to the word. 

1. It should be about stuff you already know

Or at least is well within your comfort zone. Sure a bit of research or a little help from some friends along the way might be necessary, but if you're not confident you can provide the answer, find another problem (and refer the work to someone who can). 

2. It should be about solving problems with a beginning, a middle and an end. 

Whenever I've done consulting work I've always come to it with the view to making myself redundant in the organisation, at least on the problem I've been asked to solve. You might happily then take on the next problem, then the next, but if you can't confidently turn around at some point and say; "This problem has now gone away and you don't need me anymore", maybe you should just be on payroll.

3. All care. No responsibility. 

This is a smart-arse thing to say but what it refers to is disinterestedness, not to be confused with uninterestedness. I'm always very interested in my client's problems. A client once told me I cared more about their organisation than most of their staff.  But at the end of the day the problems belong to them. This detachment allows me to take an outsiders view and equips me better to solve the problem. And of course means I generally sleep better. 

What do you think defines consulting? 



What do sashimi, diesel engines and first aid have in common?

Well if you're planning a sailing sabbatical, then yours truly needs to up skill in all three areas before we leave.

We'll be cruising at a good speed to trail a line out the back of the boat. It would be a tragedy to land a decent sized tuna and not know how to fillet it and eat fresh sashimi while underway. A bottle of something decent and white might have to be stowed away for such a win as this. 

And as much as we hate motor cruising, the reality is the "donk" will be our best friend and will need as much love and attention to ensure it can get us out of trouble. Husband reckons he should do the course. The feminist in me rallies against this. I think maybe both of us. 

It's really first, second and third aid when the nearest hospital is a day's sail away. We'll need to be well prepared, have our GP on speed dial and have almost a full pharmacy's worth of "just in case" treatments.

So some very interested education coming my way in the next twelve months. Stay tuned!



Update: Three predictions for the future of digital in creative agencies

18 months ago I wrote about predictions for the future of digital in creative agencies whilst working with Marketing Consultancy Firm TrinityP3. Since then I’ve returned to agency life and been able to assess the accuracy of those predictions.

1. The death of the ‘digital’ job title

“Smarter agencies are skilling-up their “traditional” teams and dropping these job titles. At the same time they are realising that sometimes they need additional areas of expertise to handle the multi-faceted nature of digital.”

The next generation of marketers have digital DNA and are already here.

Since I started working in agencies I’ve had ‘digital’ in my job title - even at TrinityP3 I was a Senior Digital Consultant, even though I never worked on a digital project. Now at Havas Melbourne I don’t have digital in my job title - no one does -  and we have no Head of Digital in our Australian operation. Why? Because we are all (already) digital. We are also all creative. We are also all media. We are also all strategic - There’s no need to call attention to something that is inherent in the way we behave.

2. The digital agency as a credible threat

“Assuming some digital agencies have the creative confidence to pull it off, they represent a very credible threat to the traditional creative agency. After all, a TVC is not a big leap for the social media agency creating viral videos. Outdoor advertising is a banner ad that doesn’t animate and a brochure is a one page website that doesn’t need cross browser testing.”

When I mentioned this prediction to the digital agency I had in mind when I first wrote this article their response was surprising.  While some of their video content had ended up as TV commercials, they didn’t enjoy doing that work, felt it was a distraction from their core business and had no ambition to take on the more “traditional” marketing landscape.

Having been exposed to the full strategic and creative capabilities of a global agency group, I think I may have called this one too early. The reality is that big, brand-building multi-touchpoint campaigns require a complex balancing of message and medium across multiple touchpoints that is beyond the interest and capability of most digital agencies.

3. The end of the “Yes we can make that!” attitude

“Smart agencies don’t try to pass off highly technical experts as their own. They do what they do best – know the brand, the client and the customer – and outsource the rest. They help the client manage this relationship and get the best outcome for the brand.”

Not surprisingly, Havas as the fifth largest agency in the world has more than a few technical experts and practitioners on hand.  Havas very successfully creates an amazing array of technical solutions to client brand problems every day with a permanent technical team with the right skill-sets to get the job done.

But any agency that doesn’t have an in-house (and I mean in-house, not sometimes freelance) development team shouldn’t be tackling any sort of web or software build that’s going to require ongoing, or even sporadic maintenance. Both the client and agency are in for a  world of pain if they do.



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Licking the Windows – Or why Fashion labels (and retailers) should be selling online.

Despite being a digital strategist, I’m not good at shopping online – especially when it comes to clothes. I’m a woman of normal size and shape, but no matter how much I want to experience and enjoy the convenience of online shopping, too many questions stop me from hitting the “buy” button: What if it doesn’t fit? Is it really that colour? Will it fall above or below my knees? $10 for postage? You’ve got to be kidding! - See more at:



Ruby Slipper Interview

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