DMO marketing budgets can vary dramatically based on a variety of factors but 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:
- 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 has been carefully curating over the last 10+ years.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.