Alabama’s Coastal Connection is a national scenic byway comprising more than 100 waypoints in Mobile and Baldwin counties. The byway needed marketing services and GMS was selected as their marketing partner. Services include website development, mobile application development, video, photography, blogging, social media marketing, blogger outreach, ongoing site maintenance and production services.
ACC’s structure was complex, involving numerous stakeholders and organizations. It was imperative to seek input from the stakeholders to ensure the success of the overall marketing efforts. GMS recommended a simple but effective process to gather stakeholder input that was then used to create an overall marketing plan as well as inform the website plan specifically.
GMS held creative branding sessions and took attendees back to kindergarten. Using magazines, stickers, markers, poster board and other fun toys, we asked participants to create a collage that spoke to their perception of the byway. We told them to use the colors of the byway, the appealing elements of the byway, etc. They were allowed the use of very few words, but plenty of texture, color and visual assets. In addition, attendees were led through several exercises that gathered keywords, emotions, top aspects of importance, etc. In the end, GMS walked away with dozens of collages, which we then used to create an overall creative and marketing brief for use by all the partners.
From there, we were able to create everything needed to “map our way” through the byway marketing plan. We developed color palettes, style guides, a site map, timelines, keywords for optimization, content plans for the first year, blog topic lists, advertising themes, and more. These tools served as the foundation and project guides for both the GMS team and all the stakeholders. We had complete consensus within the group because they were full participants in the planning.
In addition to developing the website, we produced a mobile app, as well as more than 40 videos highlighting key aspects of the byway’s waypoints. Audio tours were produced as well. In our third year of working with ACC, we launched social media marketing services, and again, we held stakeholder brainstorming and training sessions to ensure all partners were heard and were given an opportunity to help set best-practices for social management. Stakeholders continue to play an active role in the marketing activities for the byway. We’re in our fifth year of partnership with ACC, and look forward to many more.
Success has been measured by site visitation, site visitor origin locations, app downloads, social analytics, and more. We employ the use of Google Data Studio, Megalytics, native analytics and Sprout Social to measure, track and report.