In a once-unlikely David and Goliath-type scenario, geographically isolated nations like the Cayman Islands sit poised to take on global marketing giants and shake up the world of digital media.

Established companies that rely on traditional methods risk irrelevance in a rapidly changing, digital landscape, Weum explained at the Cayman Islands Marketing Professionals Association Conference on June 14.

“As the internet evolves and digital solutions become more prevalent, the small business owner has a chance to embrace (digital innovation) a little bit more than other companies and take market share from them as a result,” he said.

“If I’m a travel company in Cayman and I want to appeal to a certain type of consumer, maybe someone who is a little more opulent or someone who lives in a certain area, with the targeting options we have now, you’re really not stuck.”

Joshua Weum, Google AdWords’ digital marketing ambassador.

The relative anonymity of digital publishing renders location effectively irrelevant. Universal access to digital mediums means savvy island marketers can now compete on the same level as competitors based in urban centers.

“That’s where I think the internet is so great for people here in Cayman. You are in an isolated area but with the technology we have now, you can reach the entire world as if you were on the mainland,” Weum said.

“With digital, if you embrace the tools we have and some of the trends we’re seeing and the forecasting of where digital is going, you can oftentimes compete very aggressively and very well with a business you may have thought was far too big to scratch the surface on.”

Local perspective

During a panel of local speakers, Rob Barton of Cayman’s BB&P Interactive said he has been struck in recent years by how quickly Cayman’s marketing services have adapted to digital platforms.

“It has been supported by the growth in digital media specifically Facebook and the empowering nature of those digital channels that everybody now has at their fingertips. [It] has changed the way we market ourselves,” Barton said.

He warned, however, against venturing blindly into digital campaigns that can end up costing more than anticipated. The fragmented state of digital media can translate into high campaign costs spread across many separate platforms.

“If you’re not very careful with what you’re doing, you can suddenly end up spending a lot of money and not really hit any of your marketing objectives,” he said.

Vagabond Media’s Monica Walton added that video campaigns, while increasingly popular, can become pricey. She recommended testing more accessible equipment, like iPhones, when appropriate to lower campaign costs.

For Cayman’s traditional consumer base, marketers must also remember that many clients still prefer print media. For company’s like Foster’s Food Fair that market to a broad public, Julian Foster said campaigns must cater to diverse needs.

“Transitioning from traditional to digital, it’s a long process, especially if you are coming from a very traditional company. Certain things are ingrained in how you market and sell yourself,” he said.

“Demographics in Cayman are very broad. You have to have traditional to get some people and you have to have digital to get others. You just have to know what works for you. It’s all about testing.”

Whether working in digital or print, Foster said results are key. The investment must produce tangible benefit for the company.

“You have to ask for some money and then they have to sort it out, do a lot of testing and give them results. Results are key. If they aren’t happening with how it performed, they’re probably not going to let you keep going,” he said.