Last month, for example, Visit Birmingham launched its 2014 summer campaign. The ‘This is Birmingham’ campaign incorporates TV and online advertising, as well several promotional aspects such as a Twitter competition and discounts at local hotspots.
Emma Gray, director of marketing services at Visit Birmingham, says the aim is to encourage people to stay for at least one night in the city, rather than visiting just for the day or evening. This involves creating packages of discounts that provide people with money off at hotels and restaurants when they visit attractions like the Birmingham Hippodrome theatre or Cadbury World.
Train operator London Midland also participates in these discount packages to take advantage of the fact that almost half of the city’s visitors arrive by train. Visit Birmingham claims that through integrated offers, visitor numbers have risen by 11 per cent over the past six years.
“I’ve noticed that since the financial crisis, businesses are working together much more closely,” says Gray.
“Everyone recognises the value of making their marketing money go further and helping each other to deliver results. The evolution of social media has also fuelled this collaborative approach and allowed different businesses to share incentives that help to drive footfall.”
Limit access barriers
Visit Birmingham’s Twitter promotion ran over two weeks and ended earlier this month. It offered people the chance to win a city break for two by retweeting the promotion. Gray explains that after a promotion last Christmas that asked people to tweet photos of themselves in Christmas jumpers, Visit Birmingham decided on a simpler and more accessible approach this summer.
“Because our main task is to encourage people outside of Birmingham to come to visit, we didn’t want to create any barriers that would prevent people from engaging with us,” she says. “So the entry mechanism was kept simple.”
Since the financial crisis, businesses recognise the value of making their marketing money go further by collaborating
Emma Gray, Visit Birmingham
The promotion was retweeted more than 3,000 times, helping Visit Birmingham to gain 1,500 new Twitter followers – an increase that has pushed it above the Bullring shopping district’s account. Visit Birmingham is planning a major campaign for 2015 to advertise a series of new attractions including the opening of Resorts World near the NEC arena and the Grand Central shopping centre. Again, it will have promotions at its heart.
“We’ve identified 15 things happening in 2015 that we’re going to shout about in a big campaign,” she says. “One of the mechanisms we’re going to explore with partners is using the figure 15 to run promotions – for example, 15 per cent discounts or something similar. Not only will that help to drive the campaign in terms of awareness but by incentivising people as well.”
Well-versed in technology
Jodie Hopperton, the new managing director of the Institute of Promotional Marketing (IPM), agrees that the discipline now touches on all facets of marketing. As marketing campaigns become increasingly integrated and connected across digital technology, she believes promotional marketers must develop their technological expertise. This will form one of her core priorities in her new role at the IPM.
Hopperton recalls that in a previous job as interactive manager for Trinity Mirror newspapers, she oversaw an SMS campaign that asked readers to text in their postcodes in response to different promotions.
“At the time that was revolutionary because we could see at what time of day people were reading certain pages in the paper,” she says. “But with smartphones today, we can see exactly where someone is, whether they’re on a train or in a car and so on. It’s interesting to see how brands are sharing information and making the most of it.”
Several brands are teaming up this summer to run promotions around the cinema blockbuster season. Samsung, for example, is partnering with Disneymedia+ to run promotions around new film Guardians of the Galaxy. The campaign is designed to support the launch of Samsung’s new tablet, the Galaxy Tab S.
The company has sought to make the most of the association by running social media competitions around the film that offer both cinema tickets and tablets as prizes, as well as experiential activity at certain shopping destinations. This includes product demonstrations at Westfield Stratford where Samsung recreated part of the Guardians of the Galaxy film set and invited shoppers to pose for a photograph in a line-up of the film’s characters.
The images were then displayed on a wall of Galaxy Tab S tablets to enable Samsung to demonstrate the image quality of the device. The campaign comes after Digital Cinema Media teamed with Paramount to run promotions on the former’s Cinime smartphone app around the film Transformers: Age of Extinction campaign earlier this summer (see case study).
Ticketing companies are also using new technology to enhance their promotions this summer. Bookitbee, for example, which allows people to set up event pages and sell tickets online, last month agreed a partnership with promotions platform Evvnt that aims to make it easier for people to generate interest in their events.
The deal means that Bookitbee users can pay to promote their event to Evvnt’s network of 260 sites, which include the London Evening Standard and Johnston Press local news sites. In addition, event organisers can tailor their ad to incorporate certain promotions, such as discount codes tailored to the site on which it appears. Bookitbee says it has already seen an uplift of 20 to 30 per cent in ticket sales for events using the system.
“This is the start of a series of tie-ups that we’re doing so that people can, without having too much digital marketing knowledge, get their events out there and generate interest in them,” says Bookitbee co-founder Kenton Ward.
Meanwhile online ticketing platform Fatsoma uses a network of ‘reps’ to help promote events and ticket sales. The rep network works like an affiliate marketing scheme whereby people can earn money by sharing a ‘rep link’ to an event with their friends and contacts. If people buy from the link, the rep earns commission and sometimes additional rewards.
Fatsoma marketing manager Andrew Allsop explains that the majority of its business comes from people sharing links on social media. The company also recently implemented sharing via Whatsapp.
Student Hut, an online community for university students, also uses social media as its primary channel for communicating promotions to its target audience. The company works with a wide range of brands that run discount offers and other promotions on its site and via its Facebook and Twitter accounts.
However, rather than simply pushing offers at its young audience, Student Hut focuses on creating engaging content that people will want to share. One of the company’s Facebook pages, for example, focuses on the experience of freshers and has 30,000 followers. Brands run their promotions and offers alongside Student Hut’s editorial content (see case study).
Students are having to make major purchase decisions for the first time and brands recognise this as a big opportunity
Dan Lever, Student Hut
Property investment company Shaftesbury also takes a collaborative approach to promotion. The company owns several shopping villages across London’s West End including Chinatown, Carnaby Street and Seven Dials, and runs promotional events at different times of the year to draw in visitors.
Seven Dials hosts two shopping festivals, for example, in May and at Christmas. About 150 shops – including both big brands and independents – participate by offering 20 per cent discounts on the day of the festival. Road closures are put in place to pedestrianise the Seven Dials area in London’s Covent Garden.
Clare Harris, head of marketing and communications at Shaftesbury, says that while the discounts help to draw shoppers to the area, people are also attracted by the food stalls, live music and pop-up lawn that is erected around Seven Dials roundabout. The promotional aspects are part of a larger festival experience, she says.
“We don’t want to get caught up in discounts because it’s not normally a discount area,” adds Harris.
“That’s why we only do it twice a year and all the shops and restaurants get involved. It’s a shopping festival and a party, so it’s much more than just a discount.”
Case study: Cinime
The Cinime app launched last year as a tool to enable brands and films to enhance their engagement with cinema-goers. The app, developed by Digital Cinema Media (DCM) and tech firm Yummi, enables people to unlock exclusive offers around films.
This summer DCM partnered with Paramount Pictures to run promotions around the film Transformers: Age of Extinction, including a specially commissioned ad that featured a short piece to camera by actor Mark Wahlberg and footage from the film that was only available through the app.
In addition, people who had downloaded Cinime could enter a competition to win a holiday to Texas. The app uses image recognition and audio watermarking technology to unlock bonus content, including competitions, from Cinime-enabled ads.
The Transformers competition ran for two weeks in late July and had 2,799 entries, according to DCM. This represented a 47 per cent conversion rate from people who unlocked the bonus content to those who actually went through and entered. Cinime also enables users to scan posters to unlock content and play along with on-screen quizzes and games prior to a film screening.
“As we become more comfortable with the small screen, more people are watching and consuming video content on their mobiles, which is important for driving views of Paramount’s movie trailer – arguably the strongest asset film makers have to convince audiences to see their films at the cinema,” says Zoe Jones, marketing director at DCM.
Case study: Student Hut
Student Hut launched last September as an online hub for young people at university. The site provides help with selecting course modules and finding part-time jobs, as well as access to discounts and special offers aimed at the student community.
“Students are leaving home for the first time and starting to make major purchase decisions,” says Dan Lever, director of Student Hut. “Brands recognise that it’s a big opportunity to introduce themselves to this responsive audience and create brand loyalties that will last a long time.”
Student Hut has around 25,000 users signed up to its mailing list, though Lever says social media is the primary driver of traffic to the site. The company focuses on creating engaging content that young people will want to share, including several, tongue-in-cheek Facebook pages such as one entitled ‘101 ways to get kicked out of university’.
Brand promotions and discounts sit alongside this content. Dating service Happen, for example, received 2,000 clicks within two hours of a promotion that it placed on one of Student Hut’s Facebook pages aimed at first-years. Meanwhile Tesco runs a promotion that offers Student Hut users £15 off a £60 online shop.
“Many brands are starting to realise the power of these Facebook pages for delivering incentives to their target market,” says Lever. “This is shown by the number of inbound messages the Facebook pages receive requesting advertising – ranging from smaller startups to larger brands such as Spotify and Netflix.”
3 big challenges
1. Retaining consumers
Brands running summer promotions should strive to engage with newly acquired customers at other times of the year by making effective use of their CRM system.
2. Achieving value
Redeemable discounts or generous competition prizes might seem a good way of enticing consumers, but brands must also ensure they are achieving worthwhile returns.
3. Social promotions
Social media is a great platform for spreading promotions, but brands must also create engaging content and avoid bombarding followers with tired discount offers.