Now, I don’t know if ‘Community Marketing’ is actually a thing, but in my head, I’ve decided that this is a great example of it. If it isn’t a phrase already, it darn well should be.

You know how when you live somewhere, (obviously) and there are certain places that, even though they are in a very close vicinity, you’ve never been to? Pulborough is like that for me. It’s a lovely little town near my house, that I’ve never had any particular reason to go to. I’m guessing that it might be the sort of place that not many people have a particular reason to go to, because it has recently been the focus of a huge campaign to boost tourism, and that’s what I’m writing about today.

The story starts with a grant of £169,000, awarded to Horsham District Council by the European Union’s Agriculture Fund for Rural Development Programme (EAFRD) to develop rural tourism in the Pulborough area.

Interestingly Pulborough has a lot to recommend it, and these organisations were pulled together into a steering group to let tourists in on Pulborough’s secret delights alongside  the RSPB, Pulborough Parish Council, Pulborough Community Partnership and the South Downs National Park.

What they decided to do was to create a ‘virtual’ art trail, that is available at ‘stations’ across a 4km nature walk from the RSPB nature reserve into the centre of town. Renowned Sussex artist, Steve Geliot, was commissioned to create the sculptures, fingerpost tops and design the waymarkers on site, and Spark Emerging Technologies were brought in to create the digital art, including moving images of a talking giant,. This content can only be seen via a the app, when you find the markers (like the one below) at each station and scan them with your phone (You can find out more about how it works here.) The giant tells you all about local wildlife and other aspects of the area.

                   

The thing that is so brilliant about the marketing for this experience, is how ‘integrated’ it is. Integration of a marketing campaign, that’s to say, a consistent and timely approach to communication including multiple types of media and marketing channels, is the most complex, but effective way to market your organisation. And, achieving this is true Nirvana for marketeers.  The success of this tourism campaign makes it a great case study.

The trail was launched in July. It was advertised through the typical Horsham District Council communication channels: local papers, the council’s door-dropped newsletter, HDC website, via local bloggers and social media pages. Big tick there. But, it also had a fantastic Facebook page, on which anyone who had taken part in the walk was invited to contribute their most beautiful photos of the surrounding area and the art they had seen (and it is STUNNING). This stimulated a word of mouth effect online, and provided a raft of user-generated visual content (#socialmediagoals). The walk was also advertised in the nature reserve and on posters and decals around the town.

Do you see how ‘integrated’ this is? One thing we love to help our clients get to grips with is that marketing is a ‘system’ – with all the parts supporting and working together to make the sum of the parts greater than the whole, rather than just a one-off, one-hit activity that will do the job on its own. This is where marketing can make a real difference.

The result of the campaign has been a huge uptick in visitors to the local area. The app is a great educational tool for younger audiences and includes a bespoke quiz. In just the first four weeks of the campaign being live, it was downloaded 450 times!

The increase in visitors to the area has provided a huge boost for local businesses and restaurants and (we hope) has brought the community together – most businesses seem to have got behind the project (community marketing) and are supporting it in their shop windows and making relevant offers to potential customers that relate to the art trail. This type of boost is an effect that many small towns could do with as even the giants of our high streets (Mothercare, HMV, and Woolworths, for example) succumb to the Amazon effect. To be honest, how are small businesses supposed to survive without this kind of support?

If you are a local reader, I strongly suggest checking the trail out. It’s a great thing to do with kids, dogs – anyone really. And while you are in Pulborough, get yourself a hot chocolate and support the local retail community.

And, if you enjoyed this Marvellous Marketing Spotter’s Guide, you might enjoy taking a look at some of our other articles. Find about the innovative company disrupting the dishwasher detergent market here and a great example of niche marketing here.