MARKETING MASTERCLASS: The art and science of today’s advertising options

So much focus in today's digital world is on the science of marketing, but most modern tactics rely on artistry that dates back to the dawn of time.

It may feel as if everything we ever knew about marketing has been made obsolete in the past five years. But Greg Turzynski, who was managing director of ZenithOptimedia when it was the UK’s largest media company and now runs his own communications consultancy, says that mastering modern applications of timeless techniques is the key to success. In this marketing masterclass, the self-proclaimed watch-geek — a passion that led him to create collectors’ title MrWatchMaster — describes how to embrace the power of measurable digital marketing without losing sight of the creativity and artistry that underpins the most successful campaigns.

In the August issue of WatchPro, GfK reported a 15.7% increase in sales value for the watch sector in Great Britain from January to June 2017. This was driven at the higher end of the market (> £1,000: +31.7.0% yr on yr).

Over the same period, Swiss watch exports rose 0.7% globally (Source: Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry FH).


According to GfK, the GB figures are potentially massaged upwards by the fall in value of the pound (not something the watch sector can control) and recent price increases (something they can control).

Outside of these dynamics, what else affects the revenue of the new watch sector?

Let’s keep it simple. You can only make more revenue if you sell more watches to existing customers, sell to new customers or change your prices. We will focus on selling more watches, which usually occurs due to increased consumer demand. This is primarily the role of Marketing, which happens to be our area of expertise.

It is far easier to sell a new watch to an existing customer, some say ten times easier! So, this is a very clear priority. Some form of customer retention activity, loyalty programme and upsell should be a strong focus. To be clear, this is as important for retailers as it is for brands.

We encounter some clever ways of doing this, but it is not consistent across the sector.

Building a relationship with your customers has always been important, but it was historically difficult to reach all of them and at the right time.

However, now we are in a digital age, it has become much easier to track your existing and new customer’s behaviour and communicate with them in a timely manner.

The broader marketing industry is in a big rush to gather customer data with huge shifts of budget to digital media that collects information.

Of course, generally speaking, retailers spend more time with their customers, at least in the real world. Watch brands, in general, can be one step removed from the purchase, but there are still many ways to close the gap. However, for retailers and brands, the answer to better relationships is not necessarily the headlong rush to digital and data mining.

“Marketing is art and science. For a while we over-indexed on art. Now we risk over-indexing on science.”
Alicia Dietsch, vice-president of marketing communications & operations, AT&T

Let us start with what form of communication works best and paraphrasing some of the greats of advertising, this is the list:

  • Personal Experience
  • Word of Mouth
  • PR
  • Advertising


MWM Marketing feature - Immogen


Personal Experience

Obviously, the personal experience must be positive. If it is, then this is why people and in particular collectors, remain loyal. A good personal experience also creates approbation through word of mouth.

When the opportunity arises, the watch sector is generally extremely good at the right sort of personal experience. Truly exceptional hosts who treat their customers courteously and professionally and most importantly tailor their meetings/events/environments to what they believe to be and invariably is something the customer is truly interested in. Whether it is a launch party, a visit to an Atelier or a more bespoke experience, existing or potential buyers will struggle to identify a sector that can match the hospitality of the watch sector. However, these personal experiences are expensive and time consuming.

Word of Mouth

With regard to ‘word of mouth’, it is now digital and one individual can influence a far broader audience than in the past. You will be aware of the ‘Arab Spring’, the demise of the News of the World – this was digital ‘word of mouth’ in action.

In order to generate ‘word of mouth’ on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc., it is worth considering that you have never met the potential customers you are attempting to influence. It is similar to being invited to a party of people you have never met. You would arrive with a gift, be charming and certainly honest and stay in touch. You would not ‘hawk’ your wares!

“Content marketing is like a first date. If all you do is talk about yourself, there won’t be a second date.”
David Beebe, Vice President, Global Creative + Content Marketing, Marriott International

The absolute key is the ‘gift’. It should be unique, relevant, differentiated and highly engaging. Back in the social media world, it is not a photo of a watch, but maybe something exclusive, intimate, secret or exciting about your brand. As with other encounters in our lives, these revelations will cause intrigue and interest and of course, engagement through ‘follows’ and ‘likes’.

Public Relations 

PR generally operates through a trusted third party that the potential customer has personally chosen and whose opinion they rate and is therefore closer to them than traditional forms of advertising.

PR is a powerful tool but does not work in isolation. There is no ‘guarantee’ that your message will appear or that it will appear in the way you would like it to.

The tendency for the ‘Watch Sector’ to over rely on PR is inevitably financially throttling the very environments their customers choose to enjoy.

There is a dual responsibility for the watch sector to nurture great environments and for publishers to add something to the story, not regurgitate ‘Press Releases’. This is not quite working at the moment.

Advertising (sponsorship, branded content, traditional media and some digital media)

It is very often the case that you can’t get personal experience without advertising and that advertising is potentially a means to at least frame the conversations that take place about your brand.

With regard to advertising, the watch sector is, as politely as possible, ‘stuck in a rut’. In most cases, it is a [beautiful] picture of a watch. Worse than this, it is generic, is short on ideas, shallow in its ambitions and lacks any element of cultural diversity and can be crudely gender specific. The old ‘ad- agency’ trick of taking several ads and just changing the logo would quickly reveal this.

In an attempt to simplify where we have got to, it is worth introducing ‘Paid, Owned and Earned’ marketing. ‘Paid’ includes advertising, sponsorship, PR, Branded Content and traditional and digital media channels.

‘Owned’ are your properties, your store in some cases, your website, your events and social channels. They are your communication touch points that you totally control. ‘Earned’ is the outcome of ‘Paid’ and ‘Owned’ and it is a reasonable ambition for this word of mouth and approbation to be the largest influence on your customers.

The whole ‘Marketing Industry’ is moving its considerable budgets away from ‘brand’ spend to ‘activation’ spend. The rush for short-term returns and the gathering of customer data is shifting huge sums into digital channels. These channels offer the short-term return and the data, but they don’t offer transparency in the way they are traded and reported and they don’t offer much environmental peace of mind.

Like many trends over the last half-century, the race to join a’ Gold Rush’ can mean that you spend too much on ‘mining equipment’.

There is nothing wrong with digital channels, so long as you understand how your customer uses them, how they work and have a strategy based on that understanding and stay in control. However, do you really want to ‘stalk’ your potential customers? Would you really choose some of the environments you are appearing in and how do they reflect on your brand and your existing touch points?

Two thirds of purchase decisions in Waterstones are made in store. On Amazon, it is the opposite. Amazon primarily sells the blockbusters and the truly obscure.

Does this behaviour not apply to watches? Digital can be part of a customer journey, but it is never going to be the whole journey.

It is also entirely possible through data to optimise yourself to obscurity, to focus so much on the short term that you miss opportunities that affect the long term.

So, what is the answer? There is no single solution that will solve all watch-marketing challenges, but there are the same start points:

Understand your customer. Sounds obvious, but within and outside the ‘Watch Sector’, this is too often missed or not prioritised. Whether Manufacturer or Retailer, have you done everything possible to understand who buys your watches, what was the journey they took and what factors led to the final purchase.

Develop a Strategy. This should include who you are targeting and why, what is the key narrative and how are you going to reach them. The whole company should understand the Strategy and it should frame every aspect of your owned media and all other touch points.

“At the strategy level, marketers are the keepers of the brand and the stories of the organization. Leaders of the marketing organization should be infusing the organization’s stories into each piece of content.”
Nancy Duarte, Principal, Duarte, Inc.

Digital is not a strategy and as artificial intelligence takes over the allocation of your marketing investment, make sure some intelligence is applied first.

With such a plethora of platforms, channels and formats, there is an opportunity to communicate in a way that was historically unachievable and unaffordable. It is the oldest form of communication and the means by which knowledge was transferred over millennia.


The following ten words or their variants appear in almost all recent watch magazine advertising copy: Precision, Crafted (Handcrafted, Craftsmanship), Sophisticated, Innovative, Design/Technology, Heritage, Contemporary, Integrity, Quality.

Where they don’t appear it is invariably where the manufacturer is telling a story. These stories are more different, more interesting and more memorable.

The potential to create stunning [branded] content has never been greater. There are more tools (Drones, Apps, VR, AR, 360°), the cost is reducing and there are more channels and platforms to target and distribute the content.

Also, as previously mentioned the story should include a ‘gift’. Something unique, relevant, differentiated and highly engaging.


About the Author

Greg Turzynski started his career at Young & Rubicam in the 1980s and rose to Executive Media Director before joining Optimedia as Managing Director. He was Managing Director of the merged ZenithOptimedia, at the time the UK’s largest media company, with billings in excess of £600 million. He is currently CEO of Global Living Brands, a marketing communications and branded content consultancy. He is also a Global Adviser for the Branded Content Marketing Association and Co-Founder of MrWatchMaster.
Greg Turzynski started his career at Young & Rubicam in the 1980s and rose to Executive Media Director before joining Optimedia as Managing Director. He was Managing Director of the merged ZenithOptimedia, at the time the UK’s largest media company, with billings in excess of £600 million. He is currently CEO of Global Living Brands, a marketing communications and branded content consultancy. He is also a Global Adviser for the Branded Content Marketing Association and Co-Founder of MrWatchMaster.

Credit: Original Images by Immogen Noakes.


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