“WE NEED A BROCHURE!” AND OTHER DECLARATIONS THAT MAY BE KILLING YOUR ROI.
“Let’s make a viral campaign,” “An event! We’ll stage an event!”
If you’ve ever caught yourself making statements like that, read on.
There are two critical errors we consistently encounter when we are contacted by prospective clients looking for advice on their marketing.
The first is that they approach a marketing problem with a tactic, before developing a strategy. The second is that they then employ a designer – either in-house or freelance – and direct them to produce whichever tactic they have settled on.
(We love designers, by the way, and good designers do employ strategy into their work, but if the scope of work you ask them to create is “a brochure”, then that’s what they will, rightly, provide. But what if a brochure… or event… or direct mail is not what will solve your marketing problem? It’s your hard-earned budget that’s at stake and it deserves a better fate.)
With that, I’d like to share a recent project that illustrates the value of BOTH a sound strategy AND great design.
STRATFORD, ONTARIO: CANADA’S PREMIER ARTS TOWN
Ah, lovely, wonderful Stratford! If you’re reading this in southern Ontario, you’ve likely visited this beautiful town. If you’re reading this from further afield, add it to your places-to-visit list.
And if you HAVE visited, it is likely that you attended a Shakespeare play at the annual summer festival, because that’s what Stratford is predominantly known for. The thing is, there is so much more that Stratford has to offer.
We worked with The Stratford Tourism Alliance to re-position its branding and showcase how much more the destination has to offer as a cultural getaway.
The starting point was NOT a brochure (although several strategically-driven brochures were eventually created to support the brand), but instead, a planning and strategy initiative was undertaken. This stage is vital in the branding process because it is what informs the content of the creative – which is the beautiful stuff that the world gets to see. But without the strategy and planning stage, you are simply throwing creative darts in the dark.
FIGURING OUT WHAT YOU HAVE THAT PEOPLE WANT
The Stratford Tourism Alliance provided insights that positioned them as Canada’s Premier Arts Town. This is a brilliant point of difference from other beautiful towns in southern Ontario. And it is true. Stratford offers more than its wonderful theatre festival. This beautiful town is alive with music, visual and performing arts, unique shopping, and warm welcoming accommodations.
By taking a firm position on who they genuinely are, they were able to make a unique promise to a specific target audience. We worked hand-in-hand with their team to solidify this position. The next step was articulating it.
WHY ART AND COPY MATTER
Once a clear and concise brand position was established, the creative work could begin.
In the case of Stratford, we created a logo that cleverly illustrated that “arts” are the essence of Stratford, literally “reflected” in the first four letters of the town’s name. From there we established the tone and manner, in this case, bright and bold visuals and engaging entertaining language. After all, Stratford is a place where people go to spend their cherished hard-earned leisure time, so it was only natural that the tone would be inviting and fun.
Because we knew what and who the brand was, we were able to create campaign elements that were consistent and on-brand at every touchpoint, from printed material to digital and social outreach.
During the brand articulation process, we created a marketing plan that established four pillars of offerings and then we used them to provide context for the creative through four categories: ART, FOOD, PLAY, MUSIC.
THE PROCESS IS IMPORTANT
This may sound like a lot of work, especially if you have what you might consider being a “small” project. But remember, even a small project must be informed by a plan and strategy. Decide what your goals are, who you want to respond, and what is the one single and specific thing you want them to do, because it really works!
STRATEGY AND CONTENT MATTER
Initially, we launched the initial digital campaign with ads provided by Stratford Tourism Alliance, prior to completion of the creative strategy. After implementing our strategy and creative, and cycling in the new digital ads, campaign performance improved measurably, resulting in a 43% increase in display ad conversion and 35% decrease in cost per conversion in only one month!
If you have questions about the process, we’re always happy to share our thoughts. Contact us.