Through the rise of digital publishing avenues, once-isolated island nations like Cayman now have a direct line to global audiences and a real opportunity to shake up the world of advertising.
Speaking at the Kimpton Seafire Resort on Grand Cayman, Google AdWords digital marketing ambassador Josh Weum described a revolution of small publishers poised to take on big business and claim much larger market shares.
Innovative advertising tools like YouTube Director and virtual reality technology have made once-inaccessible technology publicly available, he explained during the fourth annual Cayman Islands Marketing Professionals Association conference.
“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. So I really feel like the internet gives these small businesses a real opportunity,” he said.
Established players who rely on traditional advertising tools may soon find themselves left behind by more daring and experimental newcomers, he said. The internet now provides unprecedented control over messaging, audience targeting and ad timing, favoring those who are willing to test new mediums.
“If I’m a travel company in Cayman and I want to appeal to a certain type of consumer, maybe someone with a little more opulence or someone who lives in a certain area, with the targeting options we have now, you’re really not stuck,” he said.
“Considering the isolated nature of this country and the people that are here, that gives a huge advantage. Whereas before, I couldn’t imagine trying to market a business without those solutions from a place like this.
“It really gives an advantage to folks in places like Cayman because it really is no different. As a consumer, I don’t recognize that you’re not from my area if you’re offering me something digitally.”
Unprecedented global reach can create local challenges, however. Cayman’s advertisers must also remember to keep pace with their home community, said Miami-based marketer Luis Montero, president of “the community.”
With more than 100 nationalities, Cayman’s modest 60,000-person population represents a much larger, global conundrum for marketers and advertisers. Companies seeking to stay culturally relevant must strike a delicate balance between mass appeal and individual relevancy.
Harkening back to the day’s theme, “storytelling, content and authenticity,” Mr. Montero encouraged ad teams to bravely venture into the cultural fringe and rethink consumer identity.
He described a “new multi-everything America,” in which the No. 1 hit song, “Despacito,” is sung in Spanish and Indian-American comedian Aziz Ansari has become a resounding voice of a generation.
“I think the whole concept of identity is changing, especially with the younger generations that are more multicultural and digitally native. Where they’re from doesn’t define them. It’s about what they love,” he said.
In a digital world, advertisers can reach people easier than ever, but that does not mean they are connecting with their audiences, he said. Political shake-ups like Brexit and the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president are forcing companies to rethink their communities. Such turmoil creates an opportunity, he argued, pushing marketers to embrace an often culturally tense world.
“You can’t develop an overarching campaign and push it out to everybody because you are going to be totally inauthentic,” he said.
“Find something that’s shared. What are those pillars that bring everyone together and how does it land in each of the communities in a relevant way?”
In the Caribbean, cultural complexity likewise creates a daunting task for advertisers. Mr. Montero implored businesses to explore regional identities and reach for overarching, yet authentic messaging.
“In an ideal world, you’re developing a campaign that’s going to reach multiple communities across geographies, especially in the Caribbean,” he said.
“We want to find something that’s more of a mindset, something that’s a little bit more aspirational, that everyone can look at and see themselves reflected in. But then you have to land it in an authentic way.”
Around 200 of Cayman’s leading marketing and advertising professionals gathered at the CIMPA conference with the goal of promoting authentic and cutting-edge storytelling techniques. Local and international speakers shared the latest digital resources to tap into an ever-changing, global marketplace.
Some of Cayman’s innovative media leaders took the stage, including Julian Foster of Foster’s Food Fair, Monica Walton of Vagabond Media Group and Rob Barton of Best of Cayman. The opening remarks were made by CIMPA Chairwoman Laura Skec. The local flair complemented an international lineup that brought in representatives from such powerhouses as Google and digital entrepreneurs like CallRail and VaynerMedia.