At Marketing Trends, we are discovering what drives Australia’s top marketers. Marnie Ebeling is the Marketing Manager of 3 partner boat dealership companies: Eyachts, Cobli and The Multihull Group. In this interview, she tells us about the extraordinary growth they’ve perceived due to the overseas travelling restrictions and the *key* new role Digital played in their sales. Learn more about this unique industry, its niche audience and Marnie’s story.
Career & professional background
Marnie, how did you start working in marketing?
I was always creative as a child, and really enjoyed writing, so I always wanted to be a journalist. When I discovered that traditional journalism was becoming more and more competitive, I started to investigate other avenues. I remember a friend's mum telling me that advertising can be a very creative job, that was the first time I ever considered marketing.
In year 10, at a career's day, I discovered a course called “Marketing and Media”, which is the perfect combination. And a great representation of today's marketing, as it allows you to study the media side - social, video, journalism, websites and so much more - and also the commerce side.
This degree at Macquarie was very unique, as it is almost a double degree, but is only 3 years. It was highly competitive and required a high ATAR, so during year 12, I knew I had to work extremely hard to get in, and I did.
When I was 14, I started my own Tumblr account, which I grew to 100k followers. At the time, it was a pretty big accomplishment! And it allowed me to prove to myself that I knew how to grow social media accounts. From here, I had decided that I wanted to start my own digital marketing agency, this was back when there weren’t many around.
In my first semester at Uni when I was 18, I took up my first unpaid internship for two small local businesses. My roles were primarily in growing social media accounts and writing blogs. This was such a dream for me: a creative outlet that really didn’t even feel like work.
In my second semester, I picked up another job doing a similar thing for a website that sold ads for clients, which I began to get paid for.
I later went on an exchange program, and while I was in London, I continued working for this company, but also found another job in Sydney, which allowed me to work remotely. So this is when I found myself getting an ABN, and starting my little digital agency.
In my final semester, I picked up two more clients, so I was essentially working 4 marketing jobs while studying.
As my degree was coming to an end, one of the companies, Eyachts, asked me to work full time for them and for their partner company, The Multihull Group. This was a big decision for me: continue to grow my own digital marketing agency or take the full time job.
I then decided that I still had a lot to learn, and that the businesses had great potential for me to do so. So, I accepted the job.
If you weren’t working in marketing, in which other industry do you think you might be?
When I was in school, I would have said Journalism or Law. I was actually striving for the marks to get into Law, but I am so glad I decided to put Marketing and Media as my first preference. I am so happy I am not doing that!
If I had already had the experiences I have now, I would say graphic design or videography, as these are the favourite parts of my current role.
Marketing & Industry Trends
What role does marketing play for the 3 different companies?
I work for 3 companies now, Eyachts, The Multihull Group, and now Cobli, a company we started last year. These three companies are boat dealerships, however Cobli focuses on equity ownership, so a part share in the vessel.
All the boats we sell are very high end, ranging from 200k for the smallest Eyachts vessels and 800k for the TMG vessels, all the way up to 8 million. So our audience is extremely niche, typically older and wealthy people.
We have a number of funnels or ways to reach these people, including WOM, online advertising and events. I believe it is the quality of the content that we have online that helps give the reassurance to our customers of the quality of our boats.
It is really important that our online presence reflects the quality of our boats. So having an up to date website and to inform and entertain is very important.
What type of impact has COVID- 19 had on the marine industry?
In March last year, the industry went quiet. People were hesitant to buy because there was so much uncertainty, but now everything has changed. From about July onwards, the industry is booming, and we cannot keep up with the demand.
We are finding that, because people cannot travel, they have so much additional wealth to spend here, and they want something fun to do.
During the peak of the pandemic, we did a few major things to stay ahead.
Firstly, we hosted online events. One was a Zoom event with the co-founder of Axopar, one of our brands, to tell us about a new boat launch. Since we could not have a proper event premiere, this was very successful, the media was able to join and led to a few sales.
We started to create high-end video content to engage with our audience. We started a series for TMG called Inspire and Learn, which is an educational and entertaining series on “how to” catamaran. I have been putting out episodes every month, and we now have 8 episodes and almost 100k views. And, since this time last year, we have gained over 5 and a half thousand subscribers.
Because so many people were online, we also decided that we needed to step up our website game and created a new website for Eyachts, and soon will make a new one for TMG.
We had also been working on the launch for Cobli, our new company, for almost a year, and had to change a lot as we couldn’t have an event launch. We then decided to do a soft online launch and pivoted the marketing strategy.
At the start, the strategy revolved around the art of sharing. But sharing wasn’t looking very attractive, so we decided to go with the art of ownership.
What is the most exciting trend or innovation happening in your field in terms of marketing?
Video. I definitely think a lot more people are turning to YouTube to see reviews, and people are trusting the information they see online to make big decisions. Some people are even purchasing before a test drive, which is crazy! Yet this is what makes us determined to deliver the best quality in terms of audiovisual content.
As a marketer, what do you believe is the biggest challenge facing your industry in the future?
I think the nature of marketing at the moment is how much it changes, and how you have to keep up with these changes.
We still advertise in magazines because they are delivered to our niche, and I am glad people now understand QR codes, so we can incorporate these into the ads. But I do worry about how long these will last.
As well, many marketers, including us, rely on Facebook. Yet, with everything that's going on Facebook, I wonder: "when will the time come for us marketers to be forced to move onto other platforms and learn new systems?"
Tools, recommendations & sources of inspiration
What does a typical day look like for you?
Despite having the fancy title of “Marketing Manager”, this just means I am in charge of ALL the marketing. For us, that means a lot of things. Every day is different, every week is different working and each of the 3 companies is different.
So, I basically sit down every Monday and see what is due, what needs to be done, and what can wait. Typical things that have a due date are magazine ads or editorials that I make myself.
I am also responsible for keeping the website up to date, so if stock has been sold or if we have more coming in, I have to edit this.
If we have a newsletter due to be sent out, I will work around this to create videos and blogs. If the weather is good, we might spontaneously decide to go do a photo/video shoot on a boat.
I now get our Google Ads and social media managed externally. But if we have to have graphics made for banners, I might have to also create these.
Then we always have other projects on, like an event that needs planning or a website rebuild. My bosses don't stop coming up with new business ideas, really! And we are actually set to start another company later this year, which I will have to slot in time for.
What brands do you take inspiration from?
This is an interesting question, because our industry is small, and it is hard to take inspiration when I feel like we are ahead, and we want to be ahead.
I cannot really take inspiration from companies outside our industry. I do notice that I pay attention to any ads that catch my attention online, so that I can use those techniques. I used to admire companies like Showpo or Hismile, that really create a personality behind the company. This is what I try to do, as it makes people trust the brands more.
Software and tools recommendations: what is the one software you can’t work without and why?
Definitely Adobe. When I started everything creative, I was using Canva and iMovie. But you can tell the difference now that I use software like Indesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, and particularly Premiere Pro. The quality of all our graphics and video has been taken to a whole new level.
What are three resources you would recommend for anyone working in your field?
- SkillShare – I have learnt so much about all the Adobe software from courses on SkillShare and it is only around $100 per year. I asked my company if they would purchase it as training for me, and they were more than happy to do so. I have taught myself everything I know, from SkillShare and YouTube.
- YouTube – I know it sounds so basic, but really I don’t know what I would do without YouTube. Whenever I have a question or don’t know how to do something small, I just YouTube it.
- I wish I could say something like books or audible, but I am such a visual learner! I don’t even know if it is a resource, but I also could not live without my physical diary.