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Mercury Marine Vice President of Marketing Ben DukeMarketing decisions are based on metrics more than ever before, said Mercury Marine Vice President of Marketing Ben Duke, during a guest lecture at a Lakeland College senior-level marketing management class on Wednesday afternoon.

"Marketing has traditionally come from a gut feeling approach," said Duke, who earned both his bachelor's and MBA from Lakeland's evening, weekend and online program. "But now, it's almost entirely data driven."

Mercury Marine, a world leader in the production and sale of marine engines, boats and parts for recreational, commercial and government marine applications, is based in Fond du Lac.

Duke was joined by Mercury Director of Public Relations Lee Gordon, who spoke to the Lakeland College students about the pros and cons of social media.

Social media plays a significant role in Mercury's marketing strategy, Duke said, pointing out that Facebook, for example, fits the company's demographic exceptionally well.

Through in-house and contracted platform analytics, Mercury Marine can make intelligent decisions on how to best market and publicize the $2.2 billion company and its products.

Additionally, Mercury can evaluate how its 30 million annual visitors are browsing the company's website. "What are they looking for?" Duke asked rhetorically.

"Marketing, from where it was five years ago, is very different now," Duke said. "We're being measured constantly, and that can be uncomfortable. Now, you have to have good data to support your decisions."

While social media and other web-based marketing is big at Mercury, the company also participates in the traditional marketing arena, with a strong presence at boat shows and "Experience Events" – in which people are taken out on boats with Mercury engines.

Gordon's primary message to the students was to make careful decisions when it comes to their use of social media. He stressed that poor judgment in regards to Facebook, Twitter, Vine, Instagram and other forms of "new media" can be devastating to a job applicant.

"Your resume is the best of you," Gordon said. "But now, with social media, we get to see who you really are."

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