University Of Tasmania

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Marketing communications for seaports: a matter of survival and growth

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-16, 21:45 authored by Stephen CahoonStephen Cahoon
Perhaps the most critical issue facing seaports is their survival and growth in today's highly competitive environment. Seaports are facing challenging times as the once monopolistic position of having captive markets diminishes. This situation is being replaced by growing sections of the hinterland now being considered by competing seaports as being contestable. In effect, for many business opportunities, captive and contestable hinterland regions are blurring resulting in attracting and retaining trade throughput becoming a major key to seaport survival and growth. One strategic tool that seaport management can utilize to both attract new customers and retain current customers is the use of marketing communications. An examination of the literature on marketing communication efforts by seaports tends to focus mainly on advertising and activities more suited to promoting physical products. Instead, this paper argues the need for a much broader approach to marketing communications that takes into account the challenges of seaports that are service-based businesses. That is, there tends to be a greater need for marketing communication efforts to be able to tangibilise the intangible service offered by seaports to reduce perceptions of increased risk and uncertainty on using another seaport. The purpose of this paper is to examine the benefits to seaports of managing marketing communications strategically and holistically for effective outcomes. More specifically, this paper explains the role of public relations, publicity, personnel selling, sales promotions, word-of-mouth communications, electronic communications, and the management of the seaport's servicescape and the sources of physical evidence provided by seaports in developing a broader and services-based approach to marketing communications. This includes thinking wider than attracting and retaining customers as being the purpose of marketing communications but to also include informing and educating other stakeholders such as employees and the local community about the benefits provided by the seaport. Also discussed is the necessity of a consistent message being provided by all marketing communication activities to customers and stakeholders that results in the development of a desired image of the seaport and appropriate positioning of the seaport in relation to competitors. To facilitate discussion, results from a recent empirical study of the Australian seaport sector are used.


Publication title

Maritime policy and management








Australian Maritime College


Taylor and Francis Ltd

Place of publication


Rights statement

Copyright 2007 Taylor & Francis

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Water safety