Award-Winning Campaign (and Results!) on a Limited Marketing Budget

By Jim Leonard

Award-Winning Campaign (and Results!) on a Limited Marketing Budget

The key to great destination marketing is to create a compelling campaign that establishes a connection with your audience AND produces measurable results – no matter what size the budget. So, regardless of your DMO or CVB size, use these four tips to maximize your limited marketing budget and creativity on your next campaign. Read time: under 3 minutes

DMO marketing budgets can vary dramatically based on a variety of factors. No matter the budget, great destination marketing MUST accomplish two key objectives: establish a connection with your target audience AND produce measurable results. Stamp created the “Go All Out” campaign for the Columbus, GA Convention and Visitors Bureau that won the 2015 Southeastern Tourism Society’s “Shining Example Award for Best Marketing” ($100,000 to $499,000 budget). The Southeast Tourism Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and developing tourism in eleven Southeastern states. In addition to being recognized in multiple regional award competitions, the “Go All Out” campaign produced an amazing return on investment (ROI) for Columbus, GA. In the first four months of the campaign, traffic to the CVB’s website increased by 21% year over year. The economic impact of hotel stays was 57% over the 2016 goal and generated a total of $35.4 million in sales and lodging tax revenue. All these results were accomplished with a limited marketing budget! So, regardless of your DMO's size, you can use the following four tips to maximize your budget and creativity when crafting your next campaign:

  1. Obtain Quality Primary Research – Reliable visitor research should be the basis for all destination marketing planning. The Columbus, GA CVB commissioned primary research that provided significant insight revealing that there was increased visitor awareness, appreciation and utilization of the numerous and growing outdoor adventures and activities that Columbus had been carefully curating over the last 10+ years.
  2. Develop a Marketing Strategy that Guides Tactical Moves – With a marketing plan that is rooted in solid research, you will have the ability to put together a true strategic vision and focus that guides all of your tactical marketing activities. With the insight provided by research and the client, Stamp created a Marketing Action Plan that identified target audiences, determined their roles, established their beliefs, and outlined strategies that became the campaign’s roadmap for success.
  3. Utilize Existing Client Resources – Because of the time constraints required to develop the campaign, Stamp had no time for custom on-location photography and relied on the client’s library of existing images. In developing the visual creative approach, the agency analyzed what the client had on hand and selected a few key stock images to support the goals of the campaign. The design theory was based on triptychs—using three panels with multiple smaller images tied together with graphics and headlines to convey stories that establish a strong emotional connection with the “Go All Out” campaign theme and ultimately associate that theme with the brand.

    Regional Lifestyle Magazine Ad
    Columbus, GA Convention and Visitors Bureau's “Go All Out” campaign
  4. Employ a ‘Mostly’ Digital Advertising Platform – With the rise of highly targeted online advertising and the growing potential of social sharing, small DMOs increasingly have an opportunity to make a splash alongside the big industry players, even with a limited marketing budget. From drilling down in social media to target specific interests, to A/B testing ads on Facebook, to employing landing pages that track the effectiveness of print AND digital advertising, Stamp created a cross-platform media delivery plan focused on marketing that is measurable and with clear indicators for tracking ROI.

The combined elements of objective data, defined strategy, leveraging existing client resources, and strategic media planning and placement contributed to reaching the marketing goals and award recognition for Columbus, GA.

“This recognition is truly special as it represents a dramatic departure for our CVB; an opportunity to rethink how we tell the Columbus story," stated Peter Bowden, President and CEO of Columbus, GA Convention & Visitors Bureau about receiving the STS Shining Example Award. "The team members at Stamp understand that tourism is economic development. They took our destination research, worked with us to build a MAP for success, leveraged our existing resources, and combined it all to create a campaign with the ability to measure its success. And in 12 short months, the results are phenomenal. Thanks to the team at Stamp. You have made the Columbus CVB #AllOutProud.”