Hello, Again: Promoting The Rockford Region’s Exciting New Culture of Success.

Defining optimal positioning, messaging and media planning strategies isn’t just important in private business; it’s equally important in economic development and tourism branding and advertising.

In 2018, the Rockford Area Economic Development Council engaged GrahamSpencer to create and conduct a test economic development advertising campaign targeting the Chicago market. The campaign was an outgrowth of a recommendation made in our then-recently completed GSearch research and strategic planning process completed for RAEDC in 2018. 

The GSearch process was deep, but the goal was simple: help RAEDC reposition the Rockford Region in the eyes of the business community (external and internal), create better messaging strategies, identify target markets and effectively set the Rockford Region on a smart, sustainable long-term path toward attracting business investment. 

The test advertising campaign, which ran solely in the Chicago metro area, was designed to tell Rockford’s story, raise the community’s profile and begin to attract business expansion and real estate development interest. It consisted of digital advertising, social media, out-of-home billboards and an innovative direct marketing technique executed in partnership with Fortune magazine.

Our digital advertising strategy targeted a fairly short list of the websites of relevant business and local news verticals, including Crain’s Chicago Business. For that advertising as well as social media channels Facebook and Instagram, our team produced high-quality videos for pre-roll ads with static banners as an integrated media campaign targeted at business and financial sectors, sub-sectors of manufacturing and logistics and more. 

Digital billboard advertising rotated on the west-bound lane of I-90 near ORD to target Chicagoans as they drove on the most direct path to nearby Rockford.

With Fortune magazine, we custom-curated a list of 1,000 C-Suite executives in the Chicago metro area and sent them free Fortune magazines wrapped in GS-written messages from prominent Rockford Region business leaders touting, in their words, regional advantages such as speed-to-market building construction, customizing workforce pipelines, the strength of Rockford’s aerospace and advanced manufacturing ecosystems and even the diverse, welcoming nature of our community as stated in the eyes of clergy. 

Despite the fact this was the first significant external economic development marketing the Rockford Region had done in more than 30 years, the digital results were outstanding: 

  • The campaign generated more than 70% lift in Chicago visitors year-over on the RAEDC’s website. 
  • We drove CTRs that exceeded national industry benchmarks. 
  • Ongoing campaign optimization led to steady increases in performance from start to finish.

Because RAEDC’s website had a look/feel that was foreign to the campaign, we employed a landing page strategy to ease visitors into the RAEDC experience. That landing page can be viewed at rockfordopportunity.com.