Advertising Campaign | Town of Gravenhurst
Purpose of Project
Gravenhurst “the Gateway to Muskoka” is a rural Ontario community offering a rich and active work life balance lifestyle, for those looking for a sense of adventure and community.
Our goal is to increase awareness of Gravenhurst as a place to thrive both in business and in life, attracting investment in business and new residents, leading to an increase in employment opportunities, product and service offerings and yearround population, fostering a growing yet stable economic climate in the community on its own, and within the larger Muskoka region.
We took six little words, applied fundamental economic development concepts and pillars, turning them into a creative program to showcase opportunities for investment in our community and build local pride. The campaign is anchored by a one minute video captures the real faces and places of our community to the world and welcoming viewers to “Be Part of the Bigger Picture”.
To launch the campaign, we used common advertising platforms such as social media (Facebook, YouTube, Instagram), our website, new releases, direct email circulations to our local and regional community partners, who intern promoted through their marketing channels and databases.
Our unique approach is not only in consistency and integration of the program’s messaging over related materials or plans, but most creatively, in the delivery of the content by our local Community Ambassadors. These community minded volunteers drive the promotion through a personal interaction with a target investor/resident, and provides them with a customized USB card that contains various attraction materials, including the anchor video, an introduction letter, community profile and other links to statistics and stories on our website. The USB serves as the second major marketing tool, not only the vessel for delivering attraction material but also as a physical picture puzzle piece. Investors are invited to return the physical USB/puzzle piece to its corresponding place on the large mural board, made of 35 individual community images and located at the Town Hall office, during a scheduled visit to discover opportunities first-hand.
Often, marketing can be misrepresenting, with the use of stock images/video. Staff were conscious of showing an authentic Gravenhurst, in its people and places and wanted a final video and mural that reflected its citizen in a way the community was truly proud of.
Gravenhurst seeks to continue to nurture and support innovative and creative entrepreneurs who own or operate unique and experiential businesses in the Retail, Entertainment and Tourism Attractions, Health and Wellness, the Arts and Skilled Craftsman as well as a new but growing Aerospace sector. Residential targets are focused on seasonal and new resident conversion, those who can work from anywhere and/or international settlers looking for their own piece of the Muskoka dream. Lastly, is our Community, as negative perceptions are often generated from within. This program is meant to engage the community, build a sense of pride and a new perspective of their town.
Lead conversion doesn’t happen overnight. The program is meant to plant a seed of opportunity in the back of one’s mind and when the time comes for change or new adventures, Gravenhurst is the first place you think of.
Challenges and Changes Made
As a small rural municipality, budget and human resources (or lack thereof) are often a challenge and this project was no exception. With a ridiculously small budget of $3,000 and 3 months to complete, staff had to be creative and resourceful to meet high exceptions of the Corporation and the community. To cut cost staff had to wear many hats and rally community partnerships and volunteer participation to create the video on budget and within the timeline.
The launch received an overwhelming and positive response from residents. To date, over 540 video views, from 12 different countries. 89 cards have been distributed to our 28 registered Ambassadors. 5 cards have been provided to potential investors, yielding leads for the Economic Development Team including 2 familiarization tours which have been scheduled for later this year.
Further promotion is being planned/budgeted for televised platforms both nationally and internationally over the course of the program. Promotion and repetition of the Bigger Picture message is being carried through other municipal media, marketing, documents and reports including our recent Retail Gap Analysis and subsequent targeted print and online material.