Telling Rockford’s Real, Original Story to Chicagoland

There are many, many ways to skin a cat when it comes to defining just the right positioning, messaging and media planning strategies for a client’s business or enterprise. It’s true in consumer products advertising, tourism and economic development, as well. This is a story of grabbing an economic development tiger by the tail and running with it.

The long term goal is to vastly improve the Rockford Region’s image among external business and workforce stakeholders. For a variety of reasons, a decision was made to develop the first flight of what will be a very long-term campaign WHILE conducting much-needed qualitative and quantitative research (GSearch) to help define target markets, positioning,
messaging and media strategies.

GrahamSpencer’s intention was and is to use the learnings from the late 2018 and early 2019 campaign you see here to influence learnings and outcomes of the ongoing research. 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 tease out business expansion and real estate development interest.

The campaign consisted of digital, out-of-home and an innovative direct marketing technique with Fortune Magazine. For digital targeting, we custom-curated a list of the websites of relevant business and local news verticals including Crain’s Chicago Business. We targeted the business and financial sectors, sub-sectors of manufacturing and logistics and more.
Digital rotating outdoor was placed on a the west-bound lane of I-90 near ORD.

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 messages from Rockford business leaders discussing regional advantages such as speed-to-market construction, customizing your own workforce pipeline and the strength of Rockford’s aerospace and advanced manufacturing ecosystems.

Remarkably, and unfortunately, this is the first economic development marketing the Rockford Region has done in more than 20 years. Given that fact, the digital results were amazing: more than 70% lift in target Chicago Users YOY on the RAEDC’s website, KPI’s such as CTR that exceeded industry benchmarks, and ongoing campaign optimization that led to steady increases in performance from start to finish. We employed a landing page strategy so viewers who clicked on digital ads would first visit a location that looked like the campaign, since the organization’s website has a dated look and feel. The landing page can be viewed at rockfordopportunity.com