Try A New Tack

You already know what your business goals are. You may even know what’s working—and what isn’t. What your numbers are; what you want them to be.

But, ”Why aren’t we getting stronger results?” and, ”Where do we go from here?” are harder questions to answer.

That’s where Sailshaker comes in.

We learn about your customers, your competitors, the ebb and flow of your market. We assess the brand equity you’ve built. Then we develop highly relevant, richly engaging digital experiences that give your customers what they need, so your business earns the results you want.


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What’s your heading?

Knowing your business destination is one thing. Understanding how your digital marketing efforts need to be structured and executed to reach those goals? That’s something else entirely.

In these waters, you can think of Sailshaker as your navigator, using the modern version of a compass and sextant to chart your course.


We review your data and augment it with independent research into your customers’ preferences and behaviors; your market space and competitors’ efforts; and your current digital marketing activities.


Our team interprets and synthesizes the research findings, articulates the challenges your company faces and identifies your opportunities to stand out from your competitors.


We create your digital marketing map, drawing from current and proven techniques in content marketing, paid search and social media, email marketing, website development and analytics to help you generate measurable results.

We ride the trade winds

Sailshaker and our network of specialists bring the full complement of digital marketing expertise to each of our clients’ projects. Our most commonly requested services include:

Fresh From the Helm


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4 Jun

‘Good-Time Gil’ Helps Prove the Value of Personas in ~900 Words

‘Good-Time Gil’ Helps Prove the Value of Personas in ~900 Words

Recently I talked about getting to know your audience on a deeper level if you want to understand the different kinds of consumers who buy from you, and why.

Let’s say you’ve done that research and gathered that intelligence. You’re starting to see patterns emerging in customers who share similar priorities, behaviors, and purchasing habits.

Now what?

You’d typically synthesize those findings into buyer personas, to help get more of your ideal customers on the proverbial hook.

But I’m not going to define what personas are or tell you how to create them. Those resources are abundant online. With a little help from Google, I’m sure you’ll find them.

Instead, I’m going to demonstrate what personas are intended to do for you.

No two fish (or customers) are alike.

The hero photo inspired me to write this post. Here was this glorious fish bearing Sailshaker colors. And I knew nothing about him (her?). That got me wondering what goes on in his little world.

Since I don’t know much about fish, I view them through a generic lens. They’re creatures with gills, fins, and scales. Some live in salt water, some in fresh water. It struck me that some businesses must think about their customers in much the same way—as one large buying population, with little difference between one purchaser and another.

So I went on a fishing expedition. I decided to invest an hour in learning what I could about the fish in the photo, to see if I could generate insights that would be helpful from a marketing perspective.

That, after all, is essentially what creating buyer personas are all about.

In search of Gil.

I guessed that Gil is a tropical fish, so I scoured Google Images for species that looked like him. To be honest, I’m not sure whether he’s a Mandarin Goby, a Gourami, or another type entirely. And I’m not even sure he’s a he and not a she. But for the sake of argument, I’m calling this:

Gil. Dwarf Gourami male. 3 years old.

With his basic demographics established, I delved into Wikipedia to learn more about where Gil might live and what his ideal living environment might be.

He lives in the warm, thickly vegetated river plains of Northern India, where food is plentiful.

Now I was getting somewhere. Questions flowed. What do we know about Gourami eating habits? Why is thick vegetation vital to their survival? What’s their ideal water temperature? How long do they live? What causes them to stress out? What dangers do they face? And so on.

Details and characteristics started surfacing:

  • The Gourami is a labyrinth fish, which means it breathes straight from the air with a lung-like labyrinth organ, so it needs access to the water’s surface.
  • Gil is rolling in green, as it were. He and his less colorful bride have more food than they can eat, like small insects and larvae from the surface of the water and algae on plants.
  • Gourami tend to be peaceful by nature—this is where the Good-Time comes from—and prefer a nice, quiet location far from larger, more aggressive fish.

You get the picture. And, with a bit more research, my semi-fictional Good-Time Gil came clearly into view. Here’s where my buyer persona netted out:



  • Gourami male
  • Age 3
  • Annual household income: 65+ insect heads
  • Lives in a rural floodplain


  • President of the Gourami Association of Fiji
  • Graduated from the School of Tropical Fish in 2016 with a BA in Marine Biology
  • Married for 1+ years with 800+ young


  • Stay calm
  • Avoid larger species
  • Be close to the surface in thick vegetation
  • Live a long, full life of four years

Hobbies & Interests:                     

  • Spending summers at the family’s atoll in the Maldives
  • Insect-hunting
  • Swimming in pairs


  • Being bullied and nipped at by neighbors
  • Getting enough sunlight
  • Keeping warm (needs waters above 72 degrees Fahrenheit)

Biggest Fears:

  • Having to fight over territory
  • Eating insects infected with iridovirus
  • Small, crowded spaces

Assuming you filtered fact from fun, I hope you’ll agree that this simple persona* description would give any marketer a bounty of insights.

Making Gil useful.

How might Good-Time Gil inform your strategies?

Let’s say your customers are a school of Gourami. With Gil’s persona in hand, you can almost predict how your customers will behave in different situations or respond to different products and services:

  • If you were selling vitamin C, for example, which is known to alleviate stress in densely populated fish cultures, you’d be hard-pressed to make a sale. Gil already lives a pretty laid-back lifestyle.
  • If you run a funeral parlor in a part of town where insects are known to carry the fatal iridovirus, you have an opportunity to become the trusted local provider.
  • If you’re selling retirement condominiums on the Rainbow Reef—a quiet, stunning environment within a reasonable swim—then you’ve got a good chance of closing a piece of business.

See what I mean about personas? They make it easier to focus your efforts and to tailor your messaging and product development to meet the specific needs, behaviors, and concerns of your segments.

Hey, all fish can’t all be caught with the same net.

Have I convinced you that personas can make marketing more relevant and real?  Or are you already putting your own “ideal customer” characterizations in play?


*My good friend and writer-colleague, JoAnn Gometz, sometimes describes a persona that’s written out in prose as a word portrait

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5 Oct
Where to Turn When Your Marketing Is Floundering

Where to Turn When Your Marketing Is Floundering

As a marketing strategist, I’m often asked to help fix things that are no longer performing the way they once did. That might be messaging that isn’t attracting attention, a website that no longer generates leads or a social media campaign that hasn’t received a single share.

Despite the increasing complexity and nuance apparent in marketing methodologies and technologies, the reason you’re having trouble may be very simple.

All hands on deck

Sailshaker has longstanding relationships with a network of proven digital marketing specialists. We draw upon these relationships to create project-specific teams that provide our clients with the most cost-efficient, timely and relevant service.

Stephanie Brown, Founder

You might expect Stephanie to have gills, since she spends an inordinate amount of time in and by the water—whether it’s the Outer Banks of North Carolina or the local lap pool. Her love of things aquatic is, in part, what inspired Sailshaker; the other part is, of course, marketing. But not just any marketing. The kind that builds on respectful—even joyful—relationships, thoughtful work and results that everyone can be proud of.

Stephanie is the author of Local Online Advertising for Dummies, and has helped companies of all kinds navigate online waters.

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