Alliance image campaign sells essence of Charleston

Charleston Regional Business Journal
May 1, 2001

Ever feel like you’re up in a tree?

Ever feel like the rules of business have changed?

The Charleston Regional Development Alliance had the same feelings—and they did something about it.

Using an attractive, yet dynamic photograph of a woman perched in a tree limb over a river—coupled with the title “The Rules of Business Have Changed. So has the address”—the Alliance launched the second ad in its novel advertising campaign in national economic development publications to help change the image of Charleston from just another pretty city to a desired business location.

“Sure, the rules of business are changing and that’s evident around the world–including right here in the Charleston region,” says Karen Kuchenbecker, director of marketing for the Alliance. “Consider how much your own work life has been influenced by technology, by changing work/life demands and by the increasingly global marketplace.”

“We know from our research that quality of life is an increasingly important factor in choosing a business location,” says Kuchenbecker. “We know that advances in technology are allowing companies to locate in places they wouldn’t have considered just a few years ago.”

Kuchenbecker notes that the image campaign is a natural extension of what the public perceives about Charleston. “We are fortunate to be marketing a very desirable region. People know of this place for historic charm, excellent golf and wonderful beaches, but many still think of us strictly as a vacation spot. So our effort acknowledges that they can have all the features of a great vacation – plus run a successful business – right here, 365 days a year.”

Supporting Kuchenbecker’s claim is a recent article in Business 2.0 magazine, which wrote: “Technology and the Internet are changing the rules…they are driving a new economy, creating explosive opportunity, arousing excitement, passion and fear…and radically transforming business, careers and lifestyle.”

So what did the Alliance do?

It created a new “technology friendly” image advertising campaign–first launched in February in the issues of Business Facilities, Area Development and Plants, Sites & Parks, publications which specialize in business relocation. The campaign’s first ad used a blockbuster photograph of a well-dressed businessman—shoeless—standing in the sandy waters on a beach, once again a striking contrast to emphasize the balance between business and pleasure.

“As a marketing and sales organization, we felt it was critically important to understand the current business climate facing potential prospects,” explained David Ginn, Alliance president and chief executive officer, when the campaign was first introduced. “We also took a hard look at how the Charleston region can realistically address their evolving needs and desires.”

“Each year, the Alliance appropriates roughly one-half of its budget for marketing the Charleston region as a preferred location for new business investment,” according to Kuchenbecker. “These marketing activities include national and international public relations, direct sales, collateral development, direct mail, Web site, print and electronic advertising, client presentations and other relevant tactics.”

“The new Alliance image campaign is integrated into every one of these activities over the next few years,” she adds. “However, most of the development costs associated with the new campaign will be absorbed into three separate fiscal years, 2000 through 2002. Media placement, Web site enhancement and direct mail costs will be accrued throughout the campaign, which is expected to run through fiscal year 2003.”

“Because costs associated with the campaign will span four fiscal years, it’s difficult to assign an exact budget to all elements,” Kuchenbecker points out. “We anticipate the planning, development, printing, Web site restructuring and media placement costs will run between $575,000 to $625,000 over four years—averaging roughly $150,000 per year.”

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