Show Don’t Tell

‘Show, don’t tell’ is a time-honoured technique in all kinds of communications, as a means of conveying a message in a more compelling and memorable way. Just the sort of tool you need for marketing! Instead of a long-winded explanation of a product’s qualities, how much better to express them with images that convey the benefits of those qualities, or that evoke feelings which bestow those qualities on the product. (more…)

Lower Advertising Rates

Yachting Monthly’s June 2016 issue had an interesting letter from a reader expressing disappointment at its ‘diminished value’ having shrunk from 200 pages in 2006 to 100 pages today. YM responded by saying the number of editorial pages had only dropped from 80 to 76. They didn’t address the more interesting question of how the title is still viable with 24 pages of Ads rather than the 120 it had 10 years ago. (more…)

Web Copy

Writing copy for a website is the same as for a brochure – isn’t it? Well sort of, but to be really effective there are crucial differences. (more…)

Keep Social Advertising Legal

Product endorsements in blogs and social media have become highly influential in consumers’ buying decisions. So it’s understandable that businesses are keen to get in on the act and influence input to these channels. However, if it’s part of your comms strategy, you need to take care how you go about it to avoid falling foul of the law. (more…)


Exhibiting at an exhibition costs a considerable sum, so it’s as well to make sure you get your money’s worth. An exhibition is primarily a stage on which to show off your products or services, as well as an opportunity to raise awareness and, of course, to sell. But it’s more than that. (more…)

Find the Gap

I was just sitting down to write this column when I heard that administrators had been called in at Fairline. Back in 1987, my first ever marine Ad was for Fairline, so I could hardly let this news pass without comment. (more…)

Differentiate or die

When you’re up against a bigger, stronger competitor in your sector, it can be tricky deciding on a marketing strategy.

I was talking recently to a marine company in just that situation, a relatively small player in a market well-supplied with similar competing products. (more…)

Look for which BMF logo?

There inevitably comes a time when you begin to feel that some element of your marketing communications needs refreshing. It might be an advertising theme, the logo, the strapline, the website – you’ve been using it for some time and surely something that’s fresh will work better than something that isn’t. (more…)

Visual Impact

As Twitter is overtaken by Instagram with over 300 million regular users, the rise of visual social media is symptomatic of a world that’s increasingly more interested in pictures and video than in words. (more…)

Better Mobile SEO

Having a mobile-friendly website has just become a whole lot more important.  On 21 April Google changed the way that websites are ranked in its search results on mobile devices, in favour of sites that are mobile-friendly.

If your website is already ‘responsive’, that is to say it re-formats its layout to suit mobiles, then you needn’t worry. If it’s not, then you should act soon.

And you’ll be pleased to know that you thankfully don’t have to start from scratch with a whole new responsive website. (more…)

Benefit Checks

A few years back we did some marketing research for a well-known British builder of powerboats. It produced some very surprising results. One of the images we tested was an aerial photo of their fleet powering across the water in formation.

The MD loved the image, he thought it showed off their product range beautifully.

The target audience that we showed it to thought otherwise. (more…)

Creative Partners 20th Birthday

It is 20 years ago this January (2015) that we launched the Creative Partners agency. Our first ever Ad was for an 18ft Sea Ray with a 135hp sterndrive and trailer: “£12,950 On The Road”.  Today, our latest work features a 7,000hp 122ft Riva with an eight figure price tag.

Our world has changed out of all recognition, and so too has the boat industry. (more…)

A new Motor Boats Monthly

The closure of Motor Boats Monthly may be my fault.  Singing the praises of traditional printed media in my July column was possibly the kiss of death. (more…)

Website Faux Pas

There is much discussion in the media about how M&S’s new £150m website appears to have lost them 8% of sales.

Clearly asking six million customers to re-register won’t have helped. Barely half of them did so, only to find all their wish lists had disappeared.  And yet, M&S’s new site somehow defaulted to those customers’ old delivery addresses, so their orders went astray!

But technical faux pas aside, what of the new site’s design? (more…)

Is Print Dead?

Digital media have transformed the marketing landscape.  With a website page, a Tweet or a Facebook post you can now send a marketing message to a worldwide audience in seconds.

For more precise targeting, an eshot does the job, either to your own database or someone else’s. Plus, you get all sorts of useful performance metrics including exactly who is looking at what.

There’s nothing you used to do in print that you can’t now do in digital.

Or is there?  (more…)

Word Power

I was already considering discussing copywriting this month when I saw a passage in a brochure from one of Britain’s top yacht builders declaring that their latest model would “never fail to disappoint”.

Oh dear! (more…)

Yacht Website Award

Creative Partners has won an international award for the website it designed for the Ferretti Group motor yacht dealer Ventura (

Against 88 other entries, the  website won ‘Best in Class’ in the Lifestyle category of the Interactive Media Awards organised by the Interactive Media Council. (more…)

Content Marketing

Content Marketing is all the rage at the moment.  Advocates claim it’s a new and better alternative to traditional marketing whose effectiveness is declining.

That’s questionable. However Content Marketing certainly does have it’s uses – but then it always has done!  It’s not new, it’s just the media that have changed.  (more…)

Mobile Compatibility for Websites & Eshots

You probably know what happens if you open a marketing email designed for a laptop on your mobile. It’s way too wide, or the text, images and links are too small, it’s basically illegible or unnavigable.

If you unsubscribe straight away, you’re one of 30% who do the same. While the other 70% simply delete the email.

That’s not good for business! (more…)

Reviving London’s Boat Show

Good to see the London Boat Show has a new logo.  For me, the old one with its Eastenders-inspired graphic of the Thames didn’t exactly capture what boating is all about.

Which got me thinking, what other messages are our boat shows sending out to prospective newcomers to boating, either through their marketing communications or at the shows themselves?  Are they inviting, compelling, exciting, inspiring? (more…)

Sales vs Marketing

Whenever I’m invited to an advertising briefing and introduced to a ‘Head of Sales and Marketing’ my heart tends to sink.  I’ve yet to meet the person who can truly wear both hats equally well.

They require such different mindsets.  And certainly when it comes to communications, they need a very different approach.  Marketing and sales messages should of course be related, but definitely not the same. (more…)

A Good Advertising Brief

Imagine a boat designed by a committee, where each member is responsible for a different part of it, and everyone is invited to make alterations to anyone else’s part.  Heath Robinson would have a field day!

When you’re creating something original, whether it’s a boat, a house, a painting, a film, a book or a piece of marketing communication, the team approach is not ideal.  It’s always best if it’s essentially one person’s vision.  (more…)

Effective Email Marketing

Email marketing or electronic direct mail (eDM) in the form of an eshot or email newsletter is now one of the most powerful tools in your marketing toolkit.

Like all marketing communications, its effectiveness depends entirely on how well it’s done.  (more…)

Advertising in a Recession

It has often been said, and it’s well worth repeating, that there is no better opportunity to increase your market share than a recession.

According to the Association of Business Media Companies: “History has proven that companies that maintain or increase their advertising investments in periods of economic downturn increase their sales and share of the market both during and after the downturn”. (more…)

The Power of Innovation

Vestas Sailrocket 2′s astounding 70mph dash to snatch the world speed sailing record could be one of the best things to happen to the marine industry since the invention of windsurfing. (more…)

The Price of a Pitch

The £14m it cost Virgin to tender for the west coast rail franchise is a sobering reminder of the financial commitment involved in pitching for business.

What’s worse is that the process itself is notoriously unreliable, not least because it is all too easy to misjudge, as HM Government seems to have done in the case of the railway.  (more…)

Creative Partners New Website

Nov 2012: Leading specialist marine advertising, design and marketing communications agency, Creative Partners, has launched its new website at (more…)

Choosing a Brand Name

It’s not every day you have to choose a new brand name. But when you do, it’s one of the most important business decisions you’ll make.

Yet you’d be amazed how little attention it gets, often decided almost literally on the back of an envelope, I’ve actually seen it happen!

There are so many factors to consider, and a multitude of pitfalls to avoid, it is well worth getting it right. (more…)

Logo Design

A logo that’s instantly recognisable is the holy grail of marketing. Every time it’s seen, and recognised, the closer the affinity between the brand and the consumer.

Which makes it that much more likely the consumer will feel favourably about that brand when he’s in the market for whatever product it represents. (more…)


More mature readers will remember “The Best Outboard Motor for the World”. An image might even pop into your head of a stripy-shirted sailor with a kitbag on his shoulder carrying a Seagull outboard.

The product eventually became outdated. But you couldn’t fault the strapline.

“The Ultimate Driving Machine”, “Finger lickin’ good”, “Every Little Helps”. Straplines like these can work wonders. (more…)

Branding the Product

There was no mistaking the black and red of Autohelm, the dark blue hull of a Sunseeker or the pale blue band linking the windows of a Swan.

All three have had their imitators, which just goes to show that their competitors also recognised the value of such bold branding cues in product and packaging design. (more…)

Corporate Design Style

You may not like the bright orange and nursery school typefaces of EasyJet’s corporate graphic design style, but you can’t deny how strong and recognisable it is.

It’s all down to consistency, in colours, typefaces, proportions, dimensions, spacing and layouts – the corporate design rules. It’s a relatively simple discipline, and not hard to set up, but it pays huge dividends in terms of brand awareness and brand image. (more…)

Brand Visibility

As a fresh-faced final year undergraduate attending an interview at one of the top London Ad agencies, I was shown one of their latest creations and asked “What’s the most important thing in this Ad?”

I forget what I said, but the answer they were looking for was ‘the branding’. It’s a principle that has stuck in my mind ever since, to the benefit of many a client. (more…)

Brand Values

iPhone or Android? Garmin or Simrad? Fairline or Princess? Which do you favour? Which do you feel more comfortable with?

Your choice will to some extent be down to the properties of the product, but a large part of it will be a response to that enigmatic affinity we call brand preference. (more…)

Shows and Showrooms

If you were in the business of selling digital, mobile and social media marketing communications tools, which marketing channels might you use to sell those products?

The answer is not as obvious as you might think. (more…)

Position and Strategy

What would you like your advertising and marketing communications to achieve?

OK, you want to persuade people to buy more product. But if you take a step back, a better question is; ‘in what way do I want this communication to influence the buyer’. (more…)

A Return on Marketing

Marketing: an expense or an investment? Many people (particularly accountants, bless them) would probably say it’s an expense. But isn’t it supposed to earn more than it costs?

If you spend £100 on an ad campaign [this is only an example] and make £120 extra profit in additional sales, ie, a return of 20%, is the £100 an expense? (more…)

4-Step Effective Marketing

I’m not a big fan of acronyms. Not in marketing communications anyway. I’m sure you raise more money if you call yourself the World Wildlife Fund than just ‘WWF’. (more…)

Customer Focused Marketing

Much has been said about the importance of customer focus, mostly in the customer service arena.  But it’s also a key element in the construction of an effective marketing message. 

In marketing communications, customer focus is at the heart of the features v benefits issue. (more…)

Media Selection

The reason an Ad in ‘Vogue’ will convey a very different message from the same Ad published in ‘Woman’s Weekly’, is due to the phenomenon identified by Marshall McLuhan when he wrote: “The medium is the message”. (more…)