In need of an updated brand identity, communications strategy, creative campaign collateral and efficient public relations outreach, the Ocala/Marion County Visitors and Convention Bureau engaged evok to provide an integrated solution.
To gather insights into the current conceptions of the County, its brand and its offerings, we planned community meetings in all five County Commissioner districts. Following the meetings, we combined our findings to narrow our efforts to three main marketing objectives: (1) attract individual and group visitors to Ocala/Marion County, (2) engage partners within the industry to enhance available resources and coordinate promotional activities, and (3) add value to the visitor experience to encourage extended stays and return visits.
All communities suggested the Ocala/Marion County product could be enhanced with a new/better brand and logo/tagline, improved social media, and updated website. But, identity alone would not be the all-encompassing answer. We needed to create an authentic, consistent voice for the County, genuinely appealing to the destination’s most relevant audiences. Through brand benchmark research, we were able to narrow those audiences down to three main targets, inclusive of adventurers, naturalists and relaxers. From there, we aimed to direct all communications efforts to relate directly to one or more of these audiences.
We also set objectives to increase online brand recognition and establish an online brand culture through the use of a public relations and social media marketing program. Through our strategic planning, we devised a three to five-year roadmap for increased tourism in Ocala/Marion County, including goals and action steps with specific assignments and performance measures.
Our work for the VCB began with a new logo and tagline to position the County as a must-see Florida destination.
To begin creating a cohesive brand identity that identified the County, we created a “color bar,” with each color used representing one of the five cities or townships that make up Marion County. Utilizing these color parameters, we developed and tested the logo that now defines the region. Going back to our three primary audiences, we developed the still in use tagline—Explore, Discover, Relax.
When it came time to begin building out creative collateral, we knew we wanted to showcase everything Ocala/Marion County has to offer in the most authentic way possible. In order to build a library of photos and videos that effectively reflected the beauty and personality of the County, we enlisted local volunteer talent through social media to participate in a two-day, on-location photo shoot. This initiative not only saved precious budget dollars, it was also incredibly useful in generating a bank of images ready for use within a variety of marketing efforts.
We also redesigned the County’s website, OcalaMarion.com, to include a fully responsive, dynamic theme. But the visual experience was only the start; our main concentration was on user experience. We developed an integrated Itinerary Builder that allowed visitors to plan out their ideal visit to the County, leveraging predictive modeling technology to suggest activities in the region based on their online behavior and interests.
As agency of record, we were also tasked with managing public relations and social media efforts in order to maintain a consistent, engaging brand voice. In order to do this, we prepared a social media content strategy plan based on our research and experience with the channel. In accordance with the content strategy plan, evok set forth publishing brand content highlighting the unique locations, activities, sights and events of Marion County, engaging, entertaining and education the audience segments, and conducting small promotions to reward the fans for participating and engaging with the brand.
Ensuring the destination reached potential visitors, we also launched the “Do You Love…” creative campaign across multiple channels, including out of home advertising, print and digital banner ads that displayed activities in the area appropriate to the time of day they were seen (morning golfing, afternoon antiquing, evening campfires, etc.). With the inclusion of virtual reality technology capabilities in our print ads, we were able to transport our targets to the destination and showcase its exciting and diverse appeal.
Our efforts for the Ocala/Marion County VCB have resulted in a Golden Image Award from the Florida Public Relations Association for Top Social Media Engagement in the State of Florida, as well as an Adrian Award from the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International.
Overall, our efforts have also resulted in:
- 16.2 percent increase in occupancy rates
- Growing RevPAR in the region from $30.83 to $68.08
- Ocala/Marion County outpacing the state of Florida in visitation by 236 percent
On the social media landscape, we have also helped Ocala/Marion County’s reach and audience engagement grow astronomically, with:
- Nearly 125,000 Facebook likes, an increase of 5,999 percent
- 11.6 million engaged users
- 1,094 percent increase in stories created through shares
- 1,137 percent increase in total reach
- 505 percent increase in organic impressions