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Introduction: Good afternoon, my name is Scott Ferguson
I’m here from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada representing our new Halifax Convention Centre. We’re located on Canada’s East Coast. Just a few kilometres from here.
It’s been a long and exciting journey, and I thought I’d take you through it as I share with you our unique marketing campaign
So, this is where we were in 2012 A vacant lot… soon to become a gigantic hole in the middle of our city
We had just broken ground and had not completed our design
We needed to stand out and build our international reputation, literally from the ground up, in a crowded and competitive marketplace
Locally, we had all 3 levels of government on board We had published our sales and marketing strategy, and 10 year projections We had a well organized group against the project We were faced with selling our new facility, with no final floor plans or renderings yet in place Even more, we had to find a way to make our facility real for event planners
We weren’t just selling our facility, we were selling our city Luckily, we have a great destination
In fact, we had to position ourselves as destination marketers with our customers, because Halifax has much to offer Easy air access – only 5 hours from the UK A hub of academic excellence (23 universities/colleges) Amazing food, arts and culture
We had a budget of $500,000, but we had to accomplish a lot with that Build a brand Develop a marketing strategy Build our international reputation Take on destination marketing And pay salaries
Most importantly, we had a vision for a facility that could change our city We wanted to bring all of these elements together, connecting directly with our clients
We had made a big promise, and had a high level of community engagement We set high expectations about our sales projections Now we had to deliver But how do you build anticipation, excitement and instil confidence with event planners, so they choose us How do you get them to book a new facility under construction to be their venue of choice for 2017 and beyond? We had to find a way to stand out among the competition and do something unique
So we built a brand as versatile as our space We’re not just a logo – we live and breath our brand every day Bold. Simple. Fun. That’s who we are. That’s who the Halifax Convention Centre is. Like the O of our logo, our space is unique We had the brand in place. Now we had to find a way to connect it with event planners.
Imagine you’re an event planner. We took a step back and asked ourselves what do they care about most? The answer? The details. We know it's the little things that count for our event planners. So that's where we started. Our brand gives us the flexibility to help event planners imagine their event in a space that they can’t see, visit or touch just yet What would the carpet feel like? What do the forks look like? What does the hand soap in the bathroom smell like?
We had to bring our facility to life for our clients and make it real And we wanted to engage them in shaping our facility, from the ground up – to connect with their thirst for detail So the imagine campaign was born
We started by sending our top prospects an air freshener, shaped like our facility We told them it was our new convention centre smell We also invited them to become one of our special Insiders, to receive regular updates on our progress
The Insider’s Club was a way to engage our clients and invite them to be a part of an exclusive experience to shape our new facility – their new facility Each client was hand-picked by our sales team We started bringing this exclusive group into everything we did, giving them a voice and asking them for input These individuals were no longer clients, prospects or hot leads – they were Insiders, a part of the decision making process, a part of our team And for us, a way to indirectly show them that we’re making progress – That we would certainly be ready to host them
We followed-up with a series of direct mail pieces and invited them to make choices about their new Centre Like rating their favourite convention centre carpet sample
We were able to measure exactly how many took the time to vote And most importantly, it gave us the opportunity to keep the conversation going
We also asked them to test drive our forks, and go to our Website to tell us what they think 4 different forks were sent to our Insiders Each fork had its own unique personality – This one was Gary Then we asked them to rate our forks, Gary, Zelda, Wendell & Excalibur
We reinforced our campaign creative with strong social media outreach And we were pleasantly surprised to see our planners engage with us This one planner in particular grew a strong attachment to Gary the fork and Tweeted a picture of she and Gary enjoying pizza Our campaign began to resonate with clients, as they embraced the experience What a great example of keeping the conversation going and leaving a lasting impression
Most recently, we asked our Insiders to test out and vote on which soap is the freshest Another client Tweeted separately on her favourite from the 3 samples we sent From here, we were able to take the conversation offline, and chat with them about bringing their event to Halifax
We’re making sure we integrate our bold, simple, fun voice into everything we do For example, this picture is of us in Ottawa, Canada last January at an industry trade show We didn’t just set up a trade show booth We bundled up and headed out in the freezing cold (it was nearly -30 degrees Celsius) to hand out hot chocolate and cookies to connect with the right people and make a lasting first impression
Our efforts over the past 2 years are making a difference We’re showcasing all that we have to offer and placing our city and new facility on the map And it’s working Clients are recognizing the benefits of bringing their event to our new Halifax Convention Centre
Video testimonial from David Goncalves, President of STEM States Coming to Halifax in 2018
Video testimonial from Jan Delvecchio of Harmony Inc. Coming to Halifax in October 2017
We’ve had our brand in action now for 2 years We’ve engaged a local group of champions from all sectors of our community who are helping to raise awareness of our facility and bring it to life We’ve seen engagement rates on campaigns of up to 87% This tells us that our clients care about what we’re sending, and that our efforts are resonating with them Our Insider’s Club e-newsletter click rate is more than double the industry average Our clients want to stay in touch with us
We’ve changed the way we identify with clients We connected with our prospects, and converted them to 194 highly engaged and very targeted Insiders We invited them to be a part of shaping our facility and we continue to stay in touch with them throughout the entire process
We also grew our champions list to 488 key community leaders, partners, businesses and others who have a vested interest in our new facility and chose to sign up to get regular updates
On the social media front, we continue to see great online conversations with clients and the community We went from 0 to over 1,400 Twitter followers in less than 2 years Since March 2014, we’ve been averaging 99 new Twitter followers a month
Perhaps most importantly, we have booked business well into 2017 and beyond To date, we’ve secured 33 events, with 26,450 delegates and over 30 million in direct expenditures These 33 events may not have ever come to our city without our new Centre
The excitement continues to grow With our community rallying behind us, and big steps toward achieving our sales projection goals, we’re holding true to our promise We’ve come a long way since our hole in the ground vision from a few years ago, but now we’re seeing this vision come to life
Now, we have an award-winning brand Our customers are engaged and actively booking our facility Our community is excited And our government investors are satisfied
Thanks for being a part of our journey as we prepare to host the world in 2017
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