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.


Visa PEP Mallinckrodt Yodle POMCO Miracle-Ear Adirondack Thunder
AAA Onfi LGS Together NOH Amazon Ravicti Wells Fargo
GE Lilly NBA Troy Innovation Garage Analy$ource BioMedical Fingerpaint
Deevoted Lindbeck ParaPRO Media Logic College of St. Rose Union Graduate College Smithsonian
MAXX Performance Waterworks Bartley & Dick WebPurify

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


Loading Article

8 May

Strategy Takes to the Pool

Strategy Takes to the Pool

I’ll never forget my inaugural Masters swim meet. I stood on the blocks before my first event—the 50-yard freestyle—and sized up my competition. To my left was a 62-year-old woman in a red technical suit, relaxed and smiling. To my right was an 77-year-old wearing a veil of concentration. Although I was new to the sport, I was in my early 50s and in pretty good shape, so I figured I had that heat in the bag.

At the other end of the pool, the meet organizer flashed me two thumbs up. Swim friends screamed my name. On the blocks a couple feet above the water, I felt on top of the world.

For all of two seconds, anyway.

I was about to discover that my perception of myself and my competitors was just that—an arbitrary and naive interpretation of reality. Had I prepared for the meet the way I typically advise businesses to approach marketing, my expectations might have borne a closer resemblance to the outcome.

What I should have known about my brand.

Sure, I’d been practicing, logging miles in the pool every week. But had I conducted a strategic analysis before the meet, it would have been clear where I still needed work and how I was likely to perform.

In fact, here’s what a SWOT of My Swimmer Self would have revealed:


  • Fit, athletic, tall (wide wingspan)
  • Proficient freestyle and breast stroke
  • Passion for the sport, highly competitive


  • Only been swimming for 3 years
  • Erratic flip turns
  • Feeble dolphin kick
  • No practice diving off blocks
  • Racing suit that was too big (creates drag)


  • Competing against folks of all ages and skill levels
  • Super-friendly, supportive environment
  • Nice warm pool water (I have a history of hypothermia)


  • 25-yard pool (short by competitive standards)
  • Competitors with high school and college experience
  • Fellow swimmers training with a Masters Club and coach

Clearly, in hindsight, the threat of experienced competition and my shortcomings in a pool requiring lots of turns were considerable enough to douse any dreams I might have had about winning.

But without this insight, I looked out over the pool feeling like an Olympian. Then came the blast of the starter’s horn.

What I should have learned about my competition.         

Rule number one in marketing: Never, never, underestimate your competitors based on what you think you know about them. The swimmers who strolled onto the pool deck that day weren’t Katie Ledecky or Michael Phelps, but that didn’t mean they weren’t masters.

The meet kicked off with a 200-yard butterfly. I was astonished to see men in their 60s, 70s and 80s fly off the blocks and make quick work of a challenging stroke over a grueling distance.

Then I met a woman 10 years my senior (and about a foot shorter) who’d be swimming against me. She’d been competing for 20 years and trained every day with a club in Manhattan. She said working with a coach was essential to swimming faster and suggested that without regular speed work, my technique might fall apart in races.

And boy, was she right. My technique blew up like one of Letterman’s pumpkins hitting the pavement.

First, I dove in way too deep off the blocks. As a result, I wasn’t anywhere near the surface when I started swimming and the drag nearly stopped me dead. Then, on the flip turn, I skidded off the wall and found myself in the next lane before correcting my course. All of which amounted to lots and lots of lost time.

Meanwhile, The Woman Who Knew Whereof She Spoke had a flawless race. She beat me by four seconds, but it might as well have been four hours.

I dunked my head under the water in the cool-down lane to conceal my chagrin. That’s when I realized that, even though my competition may have been older, they were far more experienced and exceedingly well prepared.

What I should have understood about my audience.

It struck me, hard, that in order to be more competitive, I was going to have to reconsider my goals, training and even my reason for racing.

Was I competing for the sake of community—seeking camaraderie among people who shared a similar passion? Or did I have aspirations to win a national title in my age group one day? After all, If I wasn’t clear about my goals, how could I expect to define and achieve success?

At the conclusion of the meet, I’d finished four events, logged respectable times for a newbie, met some wonderful people and been inspired to continue competing. I’d also decided to make huge changes in the way I approach the sport.

Stop by the pool around lunchtime and you’ll find me doing speed work against a clock.

To come out ahead, you have to be strategic.

In marketing—as in swimming—success is about fundamentals and execution. Staying on top of your game is the best defense against competitors.

Here are three ways to make sure you’re always ready for action:

  • Discover the truth about your brand and build on it. Maximize strengths, minimize weaknesses and take advantage of every opportunity. (Get a racing suit that fits.)
  • Constantly scout the competition. Find out how they practice. Watch what they eat. Note what they wear. (For heaven’s sake, don’t be fooled by age in the pool.)
  • Understand your priorities. It’s critical to achieving success. If you know where you’re headed, you can always set a course to get there. (Remember to practice your flip turns.)

While I’m still not setting the pool water on fire with newfound speed, I have begun to apply strategic thinking to my swimming. At a recent meet I shaved seconds off my previous times, bringing me a lot closer to my goal!

What about you? Do you have examples about how purpose and planning make life—or marketing—more rewarding?

Comments (0)

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.

Let’s hoist your sails

We’d love to hear from you, no matter how big or small your digital marketing needs may be. Fill out the form below or call 518-469-6531.

What’s the best way to contact you?

Your privacy matters to us.

Thank You!

We'll respond to your message as soon as possible, usually on the next business day.