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MarCom Matters

May 2013
Issue: #43

Taking it for Granite

Much to my sister’s delight, her son Christopher is now a happily married man.

And so it was on this, the occasion of my nephew’s nuptials, that Janet and I packed the car last weekend and headed to Massachusetts.

We stayed in an area called Cape Ann, home to the historic seaport towns of Gloucester and Rockport.

If you’ve eaten Gorton’s fish sticks, you know Gloucester, and if you’ve ever seen a photograph or painting of Motif Number 1, then you know Rockport.

The weekend weather was perfect, so when the festivities were done we said farewell to the relatives and morphed into tourists for couple of days.

Granite RocksOne of the places we visited was Halibut Point State Park, a scenic spot on the Cape Ann coast. Its craggy shoreline, crashing waves and high-point vistas are quintessential New England.

And its role in military affairs, as both a lookout point for enemy naval vessels during World War II and a testing site for advanced radar systems during the Cold War, reads like a something out of a John le Carré spy novel.

What really caught my eye though was the park’s abandoned granite quarry. Yes, it turns out they don’t call it Rockport for nothing. Optimistically half full of water, the old Babson Farm quarry stands testament to technological advancement, economic sways and marketing savvy.

Cape Ann’s granite industry ran strong from the 1820’s until the 1930’s when the Great Depression and a shift to concrete and steel brought an end to the era. During its heyday, the quarry witnessed a transition from mule power and sailing ships to steam engines and coal-fired freighters. And oddly enough, it all began with that bastion of marketing communications, the newspaper ad.

Okay, so granite quarries don’t usually remind me of marketing communications, but there are a few parallels…

Here’s the deal: One hundred years of success came to Cape Ann granite producers in part because they knew their customers and evolved with the times. The end was the result of things that were out of their control.

Knowing your own audiences, what they need to hear and how they prefer to get their information is in your control. Digital offers more communication choices today than ever (not necessarily a good thing). But with the right research and planning, technology choices and measurements you can keep up with the times and improve your company’s bottom line.

Otherwise, you just might find yourself between a rock and a hard place.