10 tips to make your boat go faster

marketing plan.jpg
Will it make the boat go faster?
— Peter Blake, 1995 America's Cup winning syndicate head

A small country (4 million people, 80 million sheep), a small team. And yet New Zealand was the first country other than the US to win and retain an America's Cup, beating the American defender 5-0.

While the success was a team effort between the designers and the crew, Peter's overarching credo was to only dedicate time and effort to things which would help them meet their objective of making a boat fast enough to win the race (that, and a strange belief in the power of lucky red socks). This philopophy can work for businesses of every size - the importance being to understand the goal and encourage a culture of working collaboratively towards it.  

Here are 10 tips to make your boat go faster:

  1. Have a clear idea of who you are and make sure that it communicated through everything you do. (Yep, branding is more than just a great logo!)
  2. Work on your elevator pitch. Can you describe what you do in 10 seconds in a way that make the other person say, "tell me more"?
  3. Take the time to develop a marketing plan rather than just doing ad hoc marketing. It helps you budget and understand what's required to carry it out, which is important when you have less hands on deck.
  4. As part of your marketing plan give yourself clear, measurable goals and then ask yourself whether each thing you’re doing is helping to reach your targets. 
  5. Know who your customers are, what their pain points are and what moves them. This will help you target your marketing to the right people with the right message.
  6. Have a solid website, designed to support what you want people to do when they visit. Many smaller businesses make the mistake of setting up a website without thinking of how to make it easy for customers to get to what they want - whether it’s information, contact details or a shopping cart. 
  7. Engage in social media - it's just word-of-mouth in a new way. If it seems like it takes up too much time, use a monitoring tool like Hootsuite which help you manage all your accounts in one place or Mention.net to track keywords to respond to in realtime.
  8. Don’t spread yourself thin - avoid the temptation to try to cover all the ground.  Instead, focus on a few marketing activities and do them well whether it’s a great newsletter, an engaging Facebook page or regular networking.
  9. Focus on your core activities and give away the rest. Accounting, marketing can all be outsourced to cost-effective experts, leaving you free to focus on other revenue-building opportunities.
  10. Think laterally about how you can use both paid and earned (word of mouth) advertising.  For instance, a very successful campaign to promote Queensland started with a run of classified ads for ‘The best job in the world’.  The campaign got a huge amount of social media and press coverage, which would have been expensive and much less effective if Tourism Australia had decided to run press advertisements instead:

Image via BBC Sport