Community and stakeholder involvement is integral to the success of your destination’s marketing efforts. This engagement can take any number of forms, not least of which is direct community involvement in branding and promotional efforts. This is why Stamp, when approached by the Alabama Bicentennial Commission about the state’s upcoming 200th anniversary, suggested putting together a promotional toolkit to get stakeholders and other community members excited about this upcoming milestone.
The Alabama Bicentennial Commission began by creating ALABAMA 200 with the mission to support, create and execute activities over a three-year period. These activities would commemorate the people and places of Alabama and its path to statehood. With the help of Stamp’s marketing and media planning teams, this campaign will reach communities all across the state.
Overall advocacy efforts include working with local government, elected officials and organizations to plan events that encourage intra-state travel for Alabamians and visitors of all ages and backgrounds. The campaign will focus on including historical aspects from all 67 counties and stretch from the North Alabama mountains to the South Alabama beaches of the Gulf. In support of this three-year initiative, Stamp developed a Marketing Action Plan and collateral materials, along with the redesign and development of the ALABAMA200 website.
The Promotional Toolkit
Part of the mission of the Bicentennial Commission is also to help communities organize and coordinate their own local events to celebrate Alabama’s bicentennial. Stamp developed a promotional “toolkit” that would standardize communications, provide smaller organizations with materials they might not otherwise be able to develop, and maintain brand consistency throughout usage by multiple stakeholders.
Customizable templates have been designed for brochures, banners, posters, and light pole signage. These templates were paired with guidelines of approved usage standards for each element, and template files were available in various formats for ease of printing in-house or outsourcing. These toolkits provided local organizers with Bicentennial-branded templates to frame their event advertisements, while the website captured names and emails in order to vet requests and approve usage.
The Awareness Campaign
In order to communicate brand standards and facilitate awareness to communities and friends across the state, the commission hosted multiple day-long regional workshops to offer information on projects, resources and funding. Each workshop featured tourism professionals, local committee members, chamber and county representatives, as well as advocates from each region’s heritage and arts organizations. There were nine workshops in 2017 to collaborate with communities and kickoff the bicentennial with an estimated 400 in attendance. Between the hosted workshops and online promotional toolkit, more than 500 people have downloaded these branded files!
Stamp then worked with the Commission to promote the creation of a Bicentennial Committee in each county that could help organize local activity planning and promotion. These committees included locals involved in city or county government, chambers of commerce and other community organizations.
Planning and Collaboration Leads to Success
Marketing Action Planning at the onset of this campaign was a key to its success. It outlined not only communication about opportunities to create bicentennial-related events, but also guidelines to maintain the brand focus and leverage community groups to empower residents.
Working with state and elected officials, community grants were obtained to fund bicentennial-related events, projects and activities in local communities across the state. This is a very important part of how destination management organizations can work to leverage partnerships and fund the promotion of places. And as the landscape of tourism shifts, these partnerships are going to become increasingly important in moving the destination forward.