A Winning Start to the Year for Flagstaff Marine

Graham Raspass was going through a transition with his business. His company Vicsail was being renamed and re-branded as Flagstaff Marine. And he was committed to creating a whole new website and branding to underpin that transition.





Time for a makeover

‘In the past we had tended to focus more on the typical brokerage style of website. But with the acquisition of powerboats as well as sail boats and the branding of Beneteau, we were really keen to have a new look, a new image and a fresh approach. Creating a new website was to be a really big step for us in the journey to re-brand as Flagstaff Marine.’

Global brand, local market

‘…With the new website, we wanted to take the best information from the global website and bring it to the local market on our website.

‘And we wanted to add our our own local flavour.

‘By definition Beneteau global is trying to address a variety of markets with their website, but Australia is unique…

…so we wanted to customise the content to our individual market.’


A natural candidate for digital marketing

Graham had an awareness of digital marketing, and with Vicsail had been on the edges of it…

…he had experimented with it in a couple of his other businesses.

‘We knew that in re-branding the business and relaunching it to some extent, digital marketing would have to play a key part. We had looked at independent digital marketers…

…we could have had someone to do the website and then someone else to do the ongoing marketing… 

But we were aware of Brilliant Digital’s work in the marine industry for a number of years, so they were a natural candidate for us to take on the role of providing a total digital marketing solution.’

The right experience

‘It was a big plus for us that Brilliant Digital understood the industry- the team have worked extensively in the marine industry. That was key.

‘It’s evident to us talking to the writers that many of them have been involved in the industry for some time too. We had admired the quality of the writing that they produced and that was probably our biggest deficit.  

‘If we engaged someone, we needed someone who could write form our industry’s perspective… Someone who understood what the bow and stern of  a boat was and all the bits in between…

that can be hard to find. Often you have to explain a complex part of the boat in simple terminology… or convey the attributes of our boats compared to others…

‘We were comfortable that there is really good depth and really good experience with the team at Brilliant Digital and they had the experience and knowledge to take on the job. So it was just about getting them across our products rather than the other products they had been working on.’

A quick turnaround

In June 2017, Brilliant Digital sat down with Graham and Micah, Graham’s business partner at Flagstaff Marine, to plan their marketing strategy.

‘Our major yearly event is the Sydney Boat Show in August which was only 6 weeks away. The major factor was that the site needed to be up by August 1st, which was a major task.

So we had to contract that normal process of design and development. That meant that we had to have a lot of trust in the team at Brilliant Digital that they would execute this successfully, which they did. We were up and running with a site that was probably 85% of what we wanted, which was on target for August 1st, and then in the subsequent 4-6 weeks we finished off the website.

‘There were some of the niceties, such as all the stories which we had not got in place but we had the key parts – the models and ranges and supporting information were in place.

‘Our product is one that people will spend a lot of time considering and thinking about. We have a long purchase cycle of 3 months to 2 years. And people are hungry for information.  So the website had to be very detailed and thorough on each of the models.’

Time well spent

Graham and Micah use their time with Brilliant Digital in a couple of ways.

‘From a strategic point of view, we talk weekly with Brilliant Digital about our current priorities, new models, events coming up, updates from the factory, what’s newsworthy…

‘Also we keep feeding through thoughts and ideas about good stories, new owners with unique experiences…

We have a new owner taking delivery of a boat in France and sailing it back to Australia for example.

There’s a great story there. 

The boat is not due to be handed over until March but Brilliant have already had a conservation and published the first story which will be included on our Facebook and other digital media.

A trusted business partnership

‘…If you form a relationship with someone and trust them to do your marketing, then it has to be a partnership. It has to be a sharing of ideas and knowledge. My brief to Deb was that there is a clear outcome here in terms of leads, and we are seeing strong sales of our models…

‘But we need to also be prepared to challenge… to think outside the square and do something different. 

We have to be open to experimenting. Not everything will work 100%… so we have to be able to say when something didn’t work out. On the other hand we may go down a  different that path that will deliver everything we hope for.’

More educated leads

‘Where (the content on the website) helps us, is that in the the past we would respond to an enquiry by pointing someone to a generic page on the Beneteau website. Now with a local website, we have more information, photos and details… it’s more user friendly… Once we have got them to the Oceanis 41.1 page for instance, the amount of information there is excellent.

‘So what it’s enabled us to do is be a lot more professional looking, more thorough and get a greater degree of engagement with our prospects. Probably questions they would have come back and asked they don’t need to ask.’

‘We should not overlook the fact there is a lot on our profile too – who are we, who is Flagstaff Marine… There is also information on my business partner Micah and I – who are we, where did we come from… and on the team, and our history.’

A clear lift in the market

‘In terms of how we’re going since engaging with Brilliant Digital, we’re seeing a lift in the market. There is a definite improvement in our enquiry and conversion rate.

‘We’re only 3 months in to the year so it’s early days but we’ve come out of the gate strongly and we’re looking forward to continuing this lift on previous years to continue for the next 9 months. It’s been a great start to the year.’

Storytelling a key part of the message

We think storytelling is a really key part of the message. People are hungry for information. So the benefit of storytelling is that if you have an array of different stories, people will pick the one that relates most to their circumstance or their dream…

‘And let’s be honest: owning a boat is a dream! I think it’s almost an essential requirement of life to own a boat! 

I accept that not everyone shares that view! It is a considered purchase for some…

‘But people are on a journey, looking at why they want to get into boating. If they can see that other people have already experienced that and shared that experience, it enforces their commitment and belief in what they want to do.

‘We have a strong network of Beneteau owners… we have the Beneteau regattas and the Beneteau Club… We encourage owners to meet and talk to each other. If someone reads a story on the website and would like to meet with that person to help them through their decision making process, then we’d be happy to facilitate that. So I think storytelling and sharing real life experiences is great… really important.’

Do customers check out your online information before they call you?

‘…We get those looking to buying a boat with their family in the next 1-2 years… and they’re right at the very beginning of the journey and wanting to have a discussion.

‘On the other hand people come into discuss a particular model and they’ve looked at the website and have a good understanding of it, which is why they want to talk – “Is it the right one for me? 

What is the next part of the process. If I do choose to buy a GT50, where do we go from here?”’

‘Once you engage with that person, you steer them to the website and the Facebook page and the newsletter. The important part of that from our point of view, because it’s a long period of time until final purchase, is that we need to stay engaged with person in the right way.

‘We don’t want to pick up the phone every month asking them if they’re ready to purchase yet… that’s not the way the industry works. And it’s not how we work. We want to keep feeding them information, letting them know we’re here, feeding them stories… so they come on the journey with us.’

Does digital marketing work for Flagstaff?

‘Yes digital marketing  does work for us. I’ve been in advertising my whole life and I first studied advertising in college.

There is a saying in the industry that “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted… if only i knew which half!”  That applies to any type of marketing: we’re never quite sure which part is having the most impact.

‘But the thing with digital marketing is that there are metrics we can get behind. Facebook or newsletters can give us a great idea of the engagement – we can see who’s opening it, who’s clicking…. So we can see what is working and what’s not in terms of what is the kind of information people find interesting.

‘I can’t imagine not having digital as a key part of your marketing activity in today’s world. As a business you can’t build a brand, attract and find new customers and improve your sales if digital marketing isn’t part of your foundation.’

What would you say to people who think they are too busy to invest their time in digital marketing?

‘I now spend less time on marketing than I did before, which is the benefit of having an agency with the right skills, knowledge and expertise.

I don’t have to get so involved – I have professional people to give me advice which is great, I don’t; have to seek that advice. I don’t have to manage that internally anymore either – we were able to let that role go as the agency took that responsibility. 

‘So from my point of view we have 1000% increase in our digital platform for less time – it’s gotta be a winner.’

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