US Marine breaks the online mold

In just one year, online advertising has grown from a US Marine experiment to become the cornerstone of its advertising strategy.
So says Matt Guilford, the Brunswick division’s 28-year-old director of marketing and an online advertising advocate.
Guilford, in fact, was behind the experiments, including a two-month test campaign using paid search in late 2005 that resulted in 4.7 million impressions and 18,000 visitors to All for an average visitor acquisition cost of less than $1. A few months later, a second online advertising campaign resulted in double the impressions and more visitors at half the cost.
With two success stories to show for his efforts, US Marine handed over responsibility for online advertising to Guilford, complete with “a significant budget and a professional online agency.” That was in 2006. At the end of the year, the results were convincing.
“I drove more than a quarter million direct visitors to with another 50,000 indirect visitors,” he says. “With unprecedented analytical tools, I was able to pinpoint traffic by geographic area, referring site and marketing message. Using instant, real-time feedback, I could share with our marketing group which ads faired best with nonboaters, new boaters and seasoned boaters; lessons we could then apply to non-online marketing activities.”
It’s no surprise, then, that US Marine not only handed responsibility for ALL of its 2007 advertising over to Guilford, but it tripled Bayliner’s interactive advertising budget and retained the same online agency used by Bayliner — MarketSmart Advertising in Morrisville, N.C. — for its Maxum Boats and Trophy Boats brands.
Beyond banners
Bayliner’s online marketing hasn’t been limited to banner ads and paid search.
In fact, in the launch of Bayliner’s Discovery line — described as all-weather boats for outdoor enthusiasts — the company was challenged with targeting customers that Guilford calls “marketing-adverse.” Rather than using traditional advertising, Bayliner decided to create a series of “Webisodes” to introduce the product.
“Instead of speaking directly to customers and telling them about features A, B and C, we enlisted notable marine personalities to simply take models from the Discovery line-up on journeys, which we filmed,” explains Guilford. “The videos of these journeys are the anchor of a new Web site,
“As we hoped, boating enthusiasts have seen the videos and then told their friends, expanding our audience exponentially and creating repeat traffic as customers come back to see new videos.”
In characterizing this strategy’s success, Guilford describes one instance in which a regular user of the message forums on saw the videos a day after Christmas, and made a brief post on a forum where he had established credibility.
“As a result, on December 26th, 2006, more than 250 visitors saw his post and then clicked directly on our site as a result of the original poster’s endorsement,” he says. “That’s viral marketing at its best.”

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