There is a common discussion that takes place in the superyacht world: we as an industry are bad at marketing ourselves. It’s a well established fact that engaging with the UHNW audience is a delicate and complicated process, and in my opinion, the story of yachting must change in order to attract new clients into the market; no longer are photos of bikini-clad women sipping champagne an effective means to communicate the industry. Instead, the we should be looking to promote the amazing experiences yachting can provide, visiting remote destinations and offering the ultimate sanctuary for those on board. This, as well as the growing amount of charitable and philanthropic endeavours that yacht owners and their vessels can get involved with.
To inspire the superyacht world to think differently, Paul Kemp-Robertson, co-founder of Contagious Communications will deliver a keynote presentation at The Superyacht Forum, which will explore how to deliver effective communications and engage with your audience. Using the creative agency's branding commandments, Kemp-Robertson (who has worked with the likes of Google and LVMH) will offer an outsider's perspective, educating the audience on marketing and branding.
“The name Contagious came as we felt the best ideas are the ones that spread, that have a life of their own, and that don’t necessarily need media spend,” begins Kemp-Robertson, in a conversation with SuperyachtNews.com. Contagious recently celebrated their 10-year anniversary, and describe themselves as a marketing intelligence resource. “We wanted to create a forum or an instruction guide,” he adds. “A lighthouse to try and help people decipher the complexity of modern marketing.”
“A lighthouse to try and help people decipher the complexity of modern marketing.”
The Contagious team aren't afraid to explore new techniques and unusual opportunities. When Kemp-Robertson spoke at a TED conference in 2013, he raised the idea that bitcoin and the rise of alternative currencies can be harnessed by luxury brands in order to encourage consumer loyalty. “Cryptocurrencies can be slightly volatile,” he says, “But brands could start creating their own forms of digital currency that people can either be rewarded with or - if you are spending huge amounts of money with a particular company - it is one of the ways of tying you into a reciprocal relationship; the prospect of rewards and advantages.”
Kemp-Robertson concedes that advertising and marketing within the luxury sphere is not without its challenges, “Advertising has been described as a 'tax' on the poor and the middle class, because you have to see it, but if you’re rich then you can just pay to avoid it.” The age-old techniques used by luxury brands and concierge services, particularly the appeal of exclusivity, are still incredibly effective. “It’s very hard to reinvent the wheel. A lot of things are there and have been around for years and years because they work,” he says.
"Advertising has been described as a 'tax' on the poor and the middle class, because you have to see it, but if you’re rich then you can just pay to avoid it.”
Of course, the final product of a yacht is an incredibly powerful means of advertising, but it’s also key for brands to communicate the entire spectrum of the yachting industry. “We’ve worked with luxury clients and one of the things that we’ve focused on is the idea of provenance, story and education. For brands to really celebrate the heritage but also make sure that people who are buying it know everything about it. People really love the idea of being involved in the process.” This concept resonates within the superyacht world, with many high-profile shipyards and brokerage firms using their history, and longstanding presence in the market, within their advertising campaigns.
“We’ve worked with luxury clients and one of the things that we’ve focused on is the idea of provenance, story and education. For brands to really celebrate the heritage but also make sure that people who are buying it know everything about it."
What advice and guidance will he offer during his presentation at The Superyacht Forum? “Don’t ask what is in it for you, ask what is in it for them,” he explains. “That’s a mistake a lot of marketers make. They think they have to get their brand in front of all these people, bombard them with messages and work out where they are and target them with militaristic language, without flipping it around the other way.” He adds that an effective strategy is to look at what he calls ‘pain points’ in the customer journey, periods or annoyances throughout the buying process that would switch a buyer off. For Kemp-Robertson, asking yourself questions is a key part of a marketing process, “What can you do that will solve problems or create experiences or services? What things can you do that people would actually really benefit from?”
Interestingly, he believes that luxury brands shouldn’t dismiss social media as a way to communicate with their clients. “UHNWs can screen out what they don’t want, but they are still very highly active mobile phones users. That’s how they run their business,” he concludes. “Once you have let someone in, you will find that a lot of people that serve the luxury sector have got very active but very well-thought through, curated social media accounts.”
Image courtesy: TED Talks