Effective Marketers Drive the Boat – Guest Post by Joy Brazelle

Recently my husband and I joined a boating club. I can’t tell you how great it has been. If you are thinking of buying a boat, I recommend re-thinking that idea and looking into Freedom Boat Club. You show up, the boat is ready for you, clean and full of gas. You take it out for a few hours and just return it. No hassle of towing the boat back home or cleaning the boat, etc. You get the picture.

For the past few weekends we’ve gone out on the boat. Being a nice guy, my husband has been ‘captain’ each time, allowing me to hang out on the bow (front) of the boat, enjoy a few cocktails and get some sun, while he responsibly drank bottled water and drove the boat.

I knew at some point I have to actually learn to drive the boat. Although I passed the online boating course, I had not ever driven a boat. Not being the best (car) driver, I was not so excited to learn how to drive the boat. This was largely because many vacationers who rent a pontoon boat or jet ski don’t have to know anything about the boating rules and regulations. So driving a boat is a much more proactive, defensive experience than driving a car.

But to be fair I had to learn. Suffice to say this past weekend was not my favorite boating experience or my finest moment. Paying attention to the other boaters, trying to prepare for and then react to their actions is a LOT of work.

Take one example, the wake. In my previous, front of the boat experience wake made the ride fun. My only concern was to make sure the cocktail was in the cup-holder so my drink didn’t spill. My ‘at the helm’ example was completely different – slow down if I was going too fast so I wouldn’t flip the boat (probably wouldn’t have happened, but in my mind it was a possibility), steer into the wake (what?) and then speed up to get through it as the boat shook and bounced from side to side. To me that feeling was completely out of control. The ‘going fast as the boat shakes from side to side’ was fun while lounging comfortably on the front of the boat. The experience at the wheel, terrifying!

But I will, in time, get better and more comfortable with driving the boat. And even become able to take the boat out myself with friends. It definitely will be worth it.

Now how does that long story relate to analytics? Many companies are still in front of the boat mode with their analytics. Each month the marketers present a powerpoint with their web reports – visits, unique visits, year over year or quarter over quarter, and maybe some revenue (revenue that if you compared to actual sales data was not even close). Everyone left the meeting happy since the lines on the charts were slightly larger and the trends were moving in positive direction, even if ever so slightly, or if there was a bad month, everyone understood, the economy is bad.

But effective marketers drive the boat. It is scary. It takes time and work. But the results are worth it. These data-driven companies excel at using information from their web analytics, teaming it with actual sales and maybe even competitive information and creating a plan that is fluid. They analyze what is working and what is not. If they can’t fix the ‘what is not’ they stop spending on those campaigns and move their budget to what is working.

Their presentations go beyond simple metrics. They explain their results in business terms that executives can understand and appreciate. They get bigger budgets (and even raises…even in this bad economy).

So what is it going to take to get you off the bow and behind the wheel?

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