How can Suffolk sell itself?
BILLIONS of pounds are spent every year on marketing. Businesses advertise in publications, wine and dine clients, set up stylish websites and create fancy logos but does it work? Today feature writer JAMES MARSTON speaks to the marketing manager at an Ipswich-based organisation to find out what marketing really is.
BILLIONS of pounds are spent every year on marketing.
Businesses advertise in publications, wine and dine clients, set up stylish websites and create fancy logos but does it work?
Today feature writer JAMES MARSTON speaks to the marketing manager at an Ipswich-based organisation to find out what marketing really is.
SCOTT Dolling is a man with a mission - to get businesses and tourists into Suffolk.
He's got to be keen, because its part of his job. For the last two and a half years Scott has been the destination marketing manager for the Suffolk Development Agency.
He has to charm, impress, schmooze and encourage businesses and tourists to the region.
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He said: “My job is to raise the profile of Suffolk as a visitor destination. Tourism plays a huge part in the economy of Suffolk and it is our job to position the county in the best light-so Suffolk stands out.
“We want to encourage organisations and businesses to relocate to Suffolk and to raise awareness so the consumer can find Suffolk in the first place.
“Also at a local level we have a role to inform the residents of the county about what is on their own doorstep.”
Competing with Essex, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire, the SDA launched the Choose Suffolk brand two years ago to highlight the appeals of the county to both the tourist and businessman.
On Thursday the SDA is to host a lunch for business leaders celebrating the success of the Choose Suffolk brand.
Scott said: “The brand was launched after six months of research looking at how the town of Ipswich and the wider county were being marketed.”
Scott is convinced the Choose Suffolk brand has worked, because SDA literature cites a number of successes worth celebrating.
The introduction of a major marketing campaign on the London underground in partnership with a number of businesses and organisations from the leisure and tourism sector.
Continuing awareness and profile activity in national and regional press.
The attraction of new companies to the county and creation of several hundreds of jobs from new business investment.
More than 1,700 new business enquiries handled by SDA in the last 12 months-a ten fold increase since Choose Suffolk was launched.
Private Sector partners increasing involvement in Choose Suffolk successes. But things like “profile activity”, “continuing awareness” and “increasing involvement” comes at a price.
Scott holds qualifications in his field as well as 15 years of marketing experience and he knows that marketing costs. He said: “The marketing budget for the year is about £200,000. It is hared to assess the return on that investment as raising awareness is an intangible concept.
“But the figures for 2003 to 2004, the latest available, showed the value of tourism to the county rose from £948million a year to £1.13billion a year- an increase of £65m. It is going in the right direction.”
Scott said the £200,000 investment in marketing- which takes the form of advertising in magazines and newspapers, bus side adverts, poster campaigns and promotional events like the Suffolk Show-has a knock on effect on the economy.
He said: “The SDA is funded by the East of England Development Agency (EEDA) and it is our job to coordinate activity and influence the economic performance of the county.
“We keep all the facts and figures on economic trends of Suffolk. Our role is to encourage the development of the economy and help the economy develop itself.”
Tomorrow Scott will turn on the charm in a bid to get the business community to open their wallets for the greater good of the county's prosperity.
He said: “Effectively we will be asking businesses to invest by reminding them that a successful Suffolk economy is in their long term interest.
“How much we ask for depends on the marketing programme they may wish to be involved with.”
For example to pay for the advertising space of 100 tube panels-an advert on the London underground train-costs about £2,500 for a month.
Scott added: “We will ask businesses to look at what we have already done and ask them to ask themselves if they would like to buy into that success. It is better to run in tandem with businesses.”
FOUND in every marketing textbook the four ps-Product, Place, Price and Promotion are crucial to a successful marketing campaign.
Scott said: “The same principles apply if you are working for an organisation like ours or any other business. You have to get the right product to the right market segment. Our role is to pick out the elements of the county which will work for our consumers.
“We are trying to attract the London market, older couples, and the professional market. We are looking for people to come here and spend their leisure money.
“The economic value of visitors is measured and we want to increase the value of tourism - not necessarily the volume.”
“Marketing is not just about logos but about getting the brand of Suffolk in front of the consumer.”
Direct mail, the use of the regional and local press are all used to get the Suffolk message across, Scott said.
“The Choose Suffolk brand meets the consumer in their own market but with a consistent approach.”
In marketing jargon a “warm” customer or “prospect” is someone who has used or expressed and interest in the product previously-eg a tourist who has already been to Suffolk.