Now, more than ever before, international visitors are traveling to Tennessee. In fact, in 2017, Tennessee was the fastest-growing state in the country for international travel.
What’s Bringing Them Here?
Is it the outdoor recreation? The food and drinks? Dollywood? Kevin Triplett, Commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, says it goes beyond those elements.
“International visitors want authenticity. They want America, and you can’t get much more American than Tennessee,” he said. “They love what we have to offer, and we’re authentic, genuine and real.”
Commissioner Triplett shared these insights and more at the American Marketing Association Knoxville’s December luncheon as he detailed how his team markets the state to an international audience. Thanks to their efforts, travelers are coming here for longer and spending more, contributing greatly to the overall economy (a whopping $1.83 billion in state and local sales tax revenue).
Building a State Brand
Maintaining brand consistency is essential to any marketing campaign, and it’s no different for marketing the state of Tennessee to the world. So, the Department of Tourist Development worked to develop a brand that exudes the heart and soul of our state.
“Music is in our DNA in Tennessee,” the commissioner explained to a crowd of Knoxville-area marketers. “Seven genres of music call Tennessee home. No other state can claim that.”
And thus, the “The Soundtrack of America. Made in Tennessee.” brand was born.
Utilizing the Brand
At the luncheon, Commissioner Triplett detailed one of the most recent international marketing campaigns developed by his team.
Last year, British Airways announced the first nonstop flight between Nashville and London, which is expected to significantly boost international tourism as well as business opportunities in Tennessee.
In order to drive UK visitors to Tennessee, the Department of Tourist Development held a month-long marketing campaign using an impressive installation at London’s popular Waterloo train station. “Sights & Sounds of Tennessee” included a giant map of the state and headphones to listen to music recordings and other sounds one can experience only in Tennessee.
Using their mobile devices, visitors also accessed corresponding websites offering 360-degree videos of the Great Smoky Mountains or popular music venues in Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville, virtually transporting themselves to Tennessee.
The Waterloo installation was just one piece of the larger campaign in support of the “The Soundtrack of America. Made in Tennessee.” brand that included advertising across London. Campaign creative included notable Tennessee music destinations such as Ryman Auditorium, Stax Museum of American Soul Music and the historic Tennessee Theatre, promoting the British Airways flight to Nashville and encouraging British travelers to learn more about vacation opportunities across the entire state.
The team at the Department of Tourist Development is constantly developing unique marketing tactics like the Waterloo installation, including concerts promoted entirely through Snapchat and the “Tennessee Music Pathways” tourism development project. However, Commissioner Tripplet said it’s sometimes more than a marketing plan.
“It’s who we are. It’s what we have. It’s why you should come here.”
Photos and videos courtesy of tnvacation.com.
In an exciting presentation conducted by Lila Honaker, director of marketing and outreach at the Historic Tennessee Theatre, attendees of AMA Knoxville’s October luncheon learned about the specialized marketing campaign, media blitz and brand refresh utilized to celebrate the theatre’s 90th anniversary.
“Anniversaries are like birthdays: occasions to celebrate and to think ahead, usually among friends with whom one shares not only the past but also the future.” – Zbigniew Brzezinski
The Tennessee Theatre’s story begins on October 1, 1928 when it was opened as an escape to life’s troubles. This “otherworldly” movie palace took 11 months and around $1 million dollars to build. After years of touching the lives of locals, the theatre closed for a few years in the early 1970s. In 1981, Jim A. Dick purchased the theatre to save it from becoming a parking lot. After a few years, in 1996, he started a nonprofit and donated the theatre with the mission to “make sure that the Tennessee Theatre is accessible and available to all.” Since then, the theatre has undergone a massive renovation, totaling $28 million dollars, which was funded by various corporations and individuals.
October 1, 1928 The Tennessee Theatre opened its doors
After giving a brief introduction of the Tennessee Theatre’s extensive history and impact on Knoxville, Honaker jumped into a description of the long list of events and celebrations surrounding the theatre’s 90thanniversary. Celebrating such a big milestone presented Honaker’s team with “a once in a decade opportunity … to cement some of our nonprofit messaging.”
“We really wanted to connect with the community,” she explained. “Because part of our mission is being a theatre for everybody, we wanted this 90thanniversary to be able to touch everybody from all walks of life, from all backgrounds … as diverse as we possibly could.”
With Oct. 1 being the theatre’s official anniversary, Honaker and her team created the campaign “90 days for 90 years,” with special events and online messaging celebrating the monumental milestone from October until the end of the year.
As a kick-off for their 90-day celebration, the Tennessee Theatre hosted a speakeasy party. The main idea behind this event was not about one piece of entertainment, but a way to experience the theatre in a way that it had never been experienced before. This monumental cocktail party opened by leading the audience down a side alley and in through a secret entrance. Once they entered, they were greeted with food and beverages, jazz band, swing band and photo booth. This event was focused on celebrating the roaring twenties when the theatre was built and to emphasize the brand message of creating experiences, memories and stories.
The Tennessee Theatre has a full docket of events, merchandise and more – some of which has not even be announced to the public yet. To secure awareness for this celebration, they have created a new logo, secured pole banners throughout the downtown area, created specialty pins for staff and flooded the media with information about their festivities.
Tennessee Theatre’s New Logo
While reflecting on the past 90 years, the Tennessee Theatre staff also used this time to look ahead at what they wanted their brand to become in the future. Using this 90thanniversary as a transitional period, Honaker’s team was able to rebrand the theatre with an emphasis on patron experience.
“Creating an iconic brand that captures the essence of the theatre starts by knowing who we are,” she said.
In order to fully understand and appreciate the patron experience, audience members were polled in the lobby, through email and on boards. These insights helped direct the rebrand.
The Tennessee Theatre unveiled a new logo, redesigned their website and changed out their bar signage, all with an emphasis on a cleaner, more modern look. With the theme of “A New Look for an Icon,” Honaker and her team had to ensure that the rebranding campaign encompassed the tradition of the well-loved building. The new designs incorporate patterns and visuals from the architecture of the theatre itself into their new branding.
“This theatre means a lot to a lot of people and we want to share that.”
Written by: Anna Wilt
Drew Bedard, the Vice President of Brand/Customer Marketing at Bristol Motor Speedway, led the audience at the AMA Knoxville September Luncheon through his methods of storytelling. His goal was for everyone to “have fun and walk away with something actionable.”
Bedard dives into an explanation of why you should strive for story telling with your brand. The first is the idea of “Noise v Music.” Bedard compares “noise” to a confusing ad that your brain can’t understand. American consumers are bombarded with noise. Your ads should be music that tells your customer your brand story.
Since “clarity is key,” it is imperative that your ad be as clear as possible in order to capture and keep your audience’s attention. Bedard uses Apple as a prime example of this form of clear storytelling. “Stories make so much sense” in the marketing world because American’s are “starving for stories.” People spend $500B a year at the movies. This is evidence that your brand should be capitalizing on this need for stories.
The structure of a story includes some fundamental components that can translate into your brand storytelling. The first of these key features is “the hero.” Each of these heroes has a conflict or problem that they must overcome. In order to overcome this issue, they need a guide to give them a plan and call them to action. Bedard describes this structure using pop culture references, such as Luke Skywalker and Yoda in Star Wars.
In this structure, your customer must be the “hero.” Your product and brand need to be the “guide” that gives them a plan to lead them to action and overcome their problem. For this structure to work, Bedard recommends to “boil it down to how a brain can understand it.” He suggests that even something as simple as a big, red button on your website that says “BUY NOW” can be a solution to your customer’s problem.
When applying this process to Bristol Motor Speedway, Bedard found his “heroes,” or customers, to be blue-colored, Southern individuals looking for an amazing experience. Their problem is that they “lead stressful lives” and need an outlet to relax and “feel a sense of community.” His team then presents their brand as a guide to help their customers overcome their problem. Bristol Motor Speedway is marketed as an exciting, custom experience to share with a like-minded community.
The best way to organize your company’s brand is to come up with The Statement, or “The One Liner.” According to Bedard, this is a critical step in the process to simplifying your brand’s story. To come up with this “One Liner,” you will need to identify “the problem, the solution and the reward.” Bedard’s team worked to come up with a one liner that applied to Bristol Motor Speedway.
“People have stressful lives and want to have fun. We give them a place to escape, engage in community and enjoy sports and entertainment, so they can make memories that will last a lifetime.”
Bedard challenged the audience to go back to their office that afternoon and come up with a statement like this that would apply to their brand. He stressed the necessity of making this statement as clear and concise as possible.
BY: ANNA WILT, KNOXVILLE HABITAT FOR HUMANITY
With over one billion unique monthly users, YouTube presents a unique marketing opportunity for businesses, and it’s more important than ever to utilize digital ads as more advertising moves towards multimedia formats.
At the American Marketing Association Knoxville’s June luncheon, “Push Play on Growth,” Jonathan Halley and Lucas Cooper of Big Slate Media led the audience through an enthusiastic presentation covering all things YouTube.
Big Slate Media is a Knoxville-based content creation company. Since its creation three years ago, they have grown to advise their clients on a variety of topics, such as video marketing, content and strategy.
The digital age has given advertisers the unprecedented opportunity to “track exactly how far [their] dollar amount is going” using this video platform. More specifically, YouTube allows businesses to track the effectiveness of their ad and content campaigns through a variety of tools.
Halley and Cooper also pointed out the distinctions between YouTube and other social media platforms. Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat present a “finite” option for video content. With YouTube, marketers have “the opportunity for that content to live forever.”
Marketers can organically boost their SEO ranking simply by “having a video with the keywords you want to be found with and tagging them correctly.” YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, which is owned by the largest search engine, Google. By uploading and tagging videos, Google AdWords is able to crawl and index your content. This, in turn, makes it easier for customers to learn more about your business.
Spending advertising dollars on YouTube can be a quick and easy way to see results. As a caveat, Cooper pointed out that non-skippable ads can be an annoying inconvenience to consumers. However, they can also be a “wonderful tool for advertisers if you need more time to tell your story.”
Skippable ads have proven to be the most popular form of YouTube ads. These ads are appealing to advertisers for several reasons. They are low-risk, versatile and visible to a wide audience. This method encompasses the entire Google search and YouTube search networks.
The top three data points to measure while analyzing your performance metrics are views, view rate and cost per view. View rate is the number of views and engagements on your ad, divided by the number of times your ad was shown.
As all marketers know, determining your audience is the first step you should take when making an advertisement. This is especially true for YouTube and Google AdWords. According to Halley and Cooper, you should narrow down your audience by demographics, interests and video remarketing. Video remarketing includes people that are “already engaged in your brand,” whether that means they have already watched one of your videos or bought your product.
According to Big Slate Media, the secret to successful content marketing can be found by following these five easy steps:
- Practice filming yourself until you know what works for you and your audience.
- Research is an important aspect to developing meaningful content. Cooper suggests spending ten minutes a week analyzing competitor YouTube channels.
- Brainstorm with your team, and write down your ideas.
- Planning is essential to achieving a great YouTube campaign, even if it is just an hour a month.
- Lastly, and most importantly, just do it! Challenge yourself to make “consistent, relatable content” that will engage your audience.
Want to learn more? Check out this blog post from Big Slate Media.
BY: JESSICA GUTMAN
As an employer, should you find job applicants on social media? Should you accept friend requests from current employees? How should you handle online and physical harassment claims from employees?
Chris McCarty, attorney at Lewis Thomason, covered these topics and more during a lively, open discussion at the American Marketing Association Knoxville’s April luncheon, titled: “From Friending to Firing: Social Media’s Impact on Employment.”
When searching for job applicants or current employees on social media, McCarty said there are pros, cons and legalities to consider.
“You can find out things you could never ask in an interview, including their age or family status,” he said. “You can also see their social life habits to determine how responsible they are. Anything that is publicly posted is fair game.”
However, searching for an applicant’s social media accounts may also cause negative bias against them. For example, if a job candidate is pregnant and posts that information on social media, an employer may be less likely to hire them given insurance costs and future time off.
When accepting friend requests from employees, McCarty said employers should consider their industry and office culture, and that there are always risks involved. He also informed attendees that as an employer it is illegal in the state of Tennessee to force employees to be friends with you on Facebook.
In regard to employment and social media endorsements, McCarty explained the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) endorsement guidelines.
“You can’t have a material connection to what you’re endorsing without disclosing the connection in a clear and conspicuous way,” he said. “Material connections include employment.”
This means employees endorsing their company’s products or services on social media must also disclose that they are employed there. This includes a public employment listing on Facebook or mentioning it in a Twitter or Instagram bio.
He cited an incident in 2017 in which the FTC sent out more than 90 letters to celebrities, athletes and other influencers reminding them to clearly and conspicuously disclose relationships to brands when promoting or endorsing products through social media.
“It’s the same if you work for a hotel and post on Facebook, ‘this the best hotel ever, you should stay here,’” McCarty said. “You must disclose that you work for the hotel because you have a material connection. It’s the law.”
He also said employers must be cognizant of employees’ rights to express themselves online, especially about working conditions.
“Employees are not forbidden from talking publicly about working conditions on social media,” McCarty explained. “This includes pay, benefits, break times and OSHA concerns.”
This protection falls under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which states, “Employees have the right to unionize, to join together to advance their interests as employees, and to refrain from such activity. It is unlawful for an employer to interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise of their rights.”
Lastly, McCarty covered a popular topic in today’s society: harassment in the workplace. He said to be aware that proper workplace boundaries apply offline and online.
He said, “If someone is uncomfortable in a workplace setting because of something happening online, it cannot be ignored by the company.”
To learn more about these topics, visit FTC.gov or EEOC.gov.
BY: ANNA HUGHES
On March 14, AMA Knoxville hosted its March Luncheon in Knoxville’s Old City at the Alliance for Better Nonprofits in the Regas Building. Brandon Bruce, co-founder of Cirrus Insight, shared his experiences and observations since his business vision came to life six years ago. Recently named no. 41 on Inc. 500’s fastest-growing companies, Cirrus Insight works to seamlessly integrate sales and marketing.
Bruce began his presentation by briefly explaining what the software company offers. Cirrus Insight is a browser extension for Gmail and Outlook and was the first software of its kind. It features email templates and tracking, drip campaigns, reminders, meeting scheduling, attachment tracking and salesforce integration.
After admitting that he believed the company would only last about two years, Bruce shared that roughly 250,000 people are now utilizing this time-saving email software. In an era when social media was anticipated to end the use of email, he explained that “email still dominates the internet,” correctly – and humorously – pointing out that to open any social media account, you must have an email address.
Through years of marketing and selling their own product, the team at Cirrus Insight has discovered what works best for email campaigns. Bruce told the audience that for marketing emails, an email blast should be more generic with graphics and a flashy designs. On the other hand, sales emails should be short, sweet and completely text.
He has found that if you use the wrong format for your purpose, your open rates will be drastically lower, and it will be harder for your emails to stand out in an inbox. Knowing your audience and how to reach them makes a drastic difference in terms of email effectiveness.
He also emphasized the necessity of “short emails from real people” in sales. These emails gain much more attention than computer-generated emails and drip campaigns. Although these systems are decent at pattern-recognition, Bruce joked that “Artificial Intelligence (AI) is long on artificial and short on intelligence.” Because of this, a human touch still prevails in the world of sales.
Although the majority of its customers are in sales, there is an upward trend of marketers utilizing Cirrus Insight for the first time in six years – showing that Bruce and his team are meeting their goal of bridging the gap between sales and marketing.
Want to learn more? Check out this blog post from Cirrus Insight – “What to Include & Avoid in Sales Emails.”