The Story So Far
This is a transcript of an interview conducted 1st May 2020 around the subject of myself as a character and my company Flagship Digital Marketing. How I've got to this point and the aspirations I have for the future.
I love the brand we’re developing, I think it’ll become important long term. But to be honest, the industry is socially driven. So, actually, to just go by Ben Taylor, and develop the personal brand has become my focus, because that's, what's driving business, it’s everything I'm about. Turns out my character actually fits really well with what people seek out when looking at our services. I'm really pushing Ben Taylor, my personal brand, rather than developing a corporate branding.
I’m the director and founder, it's just myself and partners. We're not a massive, but we're new and things are definitely heading in a great direction.
My working life started with a distributor supplying water sports equipment to retailers.
The ‘bottom of the pyramid’ role would be accurate, you know. The basics, picking products, boxing them up and sending them out of the warehouse. Postage, sorting out logistics, customer service, and all that side of things. It then progressed to running the close out website to sell older products. By far the best thing from all this was that I gained a basic understanding of business. What elements made great business take place, and how the supply chain worked. From the international brands to the retailers by the water.
One key lesson I took from all this was the power of connections. Loose, strong, close or distant, if you had a connection, you were in business.
I knew water sports wasn’t quite me, it was really close, but not quite right. Boating however…. Spot on. I took myself to Southampton Boat Show, here in the UK and went stand to stand asking for jobs.
I remember to this day the tap on the shoulder I got whilst pitching to a stand. I didn’t know it at the time but it was the CEO of a Switzerland based boat charter agency. A start-up, that I’d work with next. They were also developing a boat swapping scheme, which was quite exciting, really exciting, in fact.
This is where I really discovered yachting as an industry and the people that make it what it is.
This gave me a lot more exposure and to the marine industry, which was more yachting orientated rather than the water sports side of things. From the network this venture developed I gained insights into the issues maritime businesses faced and one area many companies were way behind on was digital.
It just made a lot of sense to become a guide so my network could recognise the application of software technologies in their businesses.
Sure enough, we could make systems a lot more efficient hence saving money or making more. It becomes a bit of a no brainer, it all comes down to data. It's all a numbers game, I always target a situation where the business owner says; “Okay, it's going cost me £X per month but it's going to make me £10X per month as a result. Right, of course we want to implement.” It’s a beautiful position to be in where everyone wins.
I simply address a disconnect between maritime companies and technology. I see the benefits and show my clients exactly what I think. Past that point, I'm just a catalyst to make it happen.
We’re largely UK based, we’re members of organisations like British Marine and Superyacht UK. To be honest there's no geographical limitation, I love the international aspect that’s already forming. Speaking with companies across Europe, out in the US, Australia and even Southeast Asia is only adding to my knowledge of the industry but also opening up further business. Let’s face it too, the international business scene is always going to be compelling.
In regards to learning the industry, I go to the shows, networking events, speak with people and I piece things together. I must say there's a brilliant book. It's called, Smart Yacht Marketing 101. It's written by a director at Fraser yachts, Mark Duncan.
It gets to the core of marketing in the superyacht industry and yachting in general. It highlights that yachting is quite a difficult industry to break into, but as long as you're willing to work hard and really deliver. Then eventually it will be seen, and you will be rewarded for those efforts however if it's not really what you care about and become passionate about, then it's hopeless. So, go to a different industry and make your money there. That’s not an exact quote but that’s one of the key points I learnt from it. It also provides a rare insiders’ perspective on the superyacht sector if you value that kind of thing.
It’s boating that really fits with my passion. I mean, who sails up the North Sea, has the main mast break on them, spends the next three days plodding up the coast just on the engine, gets guided in by the RNLI and enjoys it?
How did I end up here? Well, my family and close friendship group are very entrepreneurial and have huge aspirations for what they want to become. The speed at which I can operate and control the direction of the company is working wonders and with the world changing so fast it works nicely. To be honest I’d be bored with a slow pace of life, I prefer to just go for it, see what happens.
That's very much me. That's how I've landed in this space. Hardly surprising to the people that know me well.
There're two major things that I’d consider my ‘KPIs’, if you want a definitive ‘corporate’ term. First of all, I do genuinely like meeting people, understanding what they get up to and their story, so the more people I meet, the better business does. That’s number one.
I've also got a bit of an obsession with business, understanding how companies operate, what's out there, what opportunities they may present and the different services available in yachting always blows my mind. Being in a position to construct systems around these, is a great position for me to be in. Making a business out of it is the bonus feature. The more I know, the more value I can provide hence the more attractive business becomes. That’s KPI number two.
These applied to the digital space is exactly where I want to be and you know what, it genuinely floats my boat. I’m confident digital will expand in the industry and will be an important part of industry’s future.
I stick to the marine leisure, superyacht, and small commercial sectors with the odd company a little outside of those spaces. There're companies in boat charter, finance companies, there's insurance, specialist products, PR and marketing companies, there’s really a lot of sub-sectors. We’ve recently been speaking with a client in superyacht rubbish removal, there’s things you don’t even realise exist until you submerge yourself into the world of yachting.
There’re some very innovative ones which are exciting to work with, I naturally have this inbuilt support for the underdog so innovators are my favourite. When it comes to the superyacht sector, it's things your wildest dreams still don't come up with. The single, most exciting business, which I'm determined to work with, is luxury water toys. I just can’t resist!
I believe where we become really powerful is our understanding of yachting. Allowing us to address the disconnects we know will be taking place. Yachting is ironically on its own little island that should be connected with the rest of the world for everyone’s benefit.
There's a really interesting topic conversation at the minute around virtual boat shows. Industry leaders are finally opening their eyes and already changing how even major corporations will approach business in this space.
As we’re progressing we refine our offer to maximise the value we can provide, this is a constant and I intend to continue operating this way. Navigating this space, identifying the innovation potential and then implementing is exactly where I work best and where I want the company to be strong.
Ensuring that maritime companies are getting the best out of digital. That's it, that’s our whole mission. To do that for a significant portion of the maritime industry is my vision. That's a space that I want to be very influential in.
Adaptability and innovation, I'm going to put under one umbrella just for simplicity here. We’re currently in a really interesting time, because CV-19 has forced so many companies to open their mind, or die. That's the bottom line situation that companies are facing. So much business relied on boat shows taking place that digital operations never received the attention they deserve.
I'm more excited than ever with what's going on. I believe the challenges companies are facing will form a tipping point where digital is embraced and leveraged to its fullest potential. This is long overdue I must say, but the timescale is about right for yachting.