Know Your Customer - Heather Robertson Internet Marketer - Content Stragetist

KYC – Know Your Customer

The Toronto Boat Show (TIBS) has an interesting marketing initiative – the  I Love Boating Photo Contest.

This is not a new idea for the Toronto Boat Show. In fact, the first TIBS photo contest dates back to when boaters submitted real photographs. Judging was a nightmare, having to sift through piles and re-piles of ‘reflective’ photos to determine a winner.

The winning photos and honourable mentions were really enlarged and placed on banners that hung from the halls of the Direct Energy at showtime. Real boats. Real boaters. Great photos. What could be better?

Did they get response? Are you kidding? They received hundreds of photos. Are the photos wonderful? Beyond your imagination. And crisply professional. (Here’s a view of the 2012 contest winners. )

2013 I Love Boating Photo ContestYou see the Toronto Boat Show understands that boaters LOVE their boats and boating.

The relationship between a boater and their boat is similar to that of a homeowner and their home. It’s personal. In some respects, a boat is a ‘home away from home’. Boats are decorated, pampered, primed, and preened.

And boating is about sharing memories and spending time with family and friends. It’s about athleticism, recreation, competition. Any boater is only too happy to take the time and share their stories.

Last year, after a brief hiatus, the Toronto Boat Show re-purposed the I Love Boating Photo Contest to the digital age.

Doing things digitally presented a new set of challenges. TIBS had to develop an interface for both the participants and judges. Since the judges would be working independently (i.e. not able to bicker in the same room), a new judging system had to be developed to find the winners.

The I Love Boating Photo Contest is extremely versatile. It works for traditional and digital media and very important – can be easily cross-promoted by stakeholders.

But this post isn’t about contests or marketing initiatives and the best execution. It’s about truly understanding what makes your customer ‘tick’.

And the Toronto Boat Show really understands that boaters really love their boats and boating. I don’t believe they learned that soley from metrics, studies or focus groups. Nope, I think the folks from TIBS went out there and shook some hands.

So, it made perfect sense that when they re-introduced the I Love Boating Photo Contest, they re-branded the medium NOT the message.

My first question when developing a new marketing strategy – who is this customer and how well do I know them? Once a content marketing message is created, it can be easily shaped for any media channel.

So, begin at the beginning. Do you know what makes your customer tick?


Heather is good friends with the Toronto Boat Show and was pleased to be part of the 2012 I Love Boating Photo Contest judging panel. 

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