Smarter Tomorrow than You Were Today

One of the most important marketing activities you will ever do is analyze data. Without it, your business decisions will be based on your gut, rather than real information.

For all of our clients, we always begin by understanding what the reality of the business is. What does the data say about sales, ideal customers, the frequency and size of the transaction. This is the kind of information necessary to create an effective marketing strategy. Marketing efforts are not everything though, we have to pay attention to the data and make optimizations accordingly.

For a Business to Business (B2B) client that manufactures custom cases (solid exteriors containing foam cut to specs of the objects to be carried as in photography or medical equipment), we established two layers of activities. First, we started with Paid Search, targeted to specific geographies surrounding their manufacturing locations. We then layered in display retargeting to increase frequency.

In B2B, lead generation is the key to new sales. Because these are businesses selling to other businesses who in turn sell to the end user, finding new clients can make a tremendous impact. Tracking how a new client came into the fold and adjusting to find more like them is key.

Each week, a report with the leads from the website are sent to the client with details on the keywords and location of user. Through this process, they will understand what is being searched to find their products, and make educated decisions about adjusting keywords, changing targeted geographies or budgeting by day of the week.

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Our client then tracks the leads on their end and categorize them by industry type. Then, we cross-reference with different data points to determine where and how to make campaign optimizations. The first sizeable piece of closed business for our client was for a multi-year project amounting to more than $300,000!

Additionally, this information helps us change keywords we are using to drive business. An example of a change includes the removal of keywords related to military and guns. Because of the large market for gun case consumers, we determined that consumers using those keywords were primarily end users rather than business purchases. Thus, the keywords were eliminated from the campaign.

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After making optimizations based on data, such as eliminating certain keywords/industries and implementing re-messaging, we increased Paid Search conversions by +160% in one month (compared to previous month), by increasing the conversion rate +140%! You can also see from the chart below that the percentage of new users closely matches the increase in users overall at approximately 30% month to month. Additionally, sessions to the site improved incrementally while bounce rate decreased by 70%; this traffic highlights that our clients were quality, interested parties. Without the data or assessment of the business that $300K sale may never have occurred and optimization opportunities would have been missed.

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Mackinac Island Named Number 1 Summer Destination in America by TripAdvisor

The TripAdvisor ranking is based on seasonal hotel booking interest from spring to summer, including the average one-week vacation costs for hotels and airfare. As Mackinac’s Agency of Record, Advance 360 is thrilled to celebrate this well-deserved recognition.

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Advance 360, the Mackinac Island Tourism’s Agency of Record, has worked diligently to achieve this notoriety, but also dramatically improve the revenue of the island and the length of the peak season. Both have made tremendous inroads — growing by more than 30% in revenue since 2013.

In 2013, Mackinac Island Tourism identified a need for a refined, laser targeted digital campaign. Since that time, the budgetary commitment to this proven digital strategy has more than doubled, and the results speak for themselves.

Products Used:

• Paid Search
• SEO
• Display and Re-messaging
• Responsive Rich Media
• Sponsor Content
• Social Media Management and Amplification
• Web Design and Development
• Video Pre-Roll

Strategy

The primary goal has always been to increase total room revenue on Mackinac Island. Advance 360 knows that increasing site traffic and conversions on mackinacisland.org are the leading indicators of how the island will pace with regards to room revenue. Adjusting and solving for the appropriate increase in web visitors during target months, the strategy lifted traffic and with it, room night revenue.

Because the island is open only May through October, the window of opportunity is short. Using historical data, travel research, and audience profiling, Advance 360 was able to predict peaks in bookings, understand target audiences and messaging, and lift conversions. Insights from SEM analysis dictated a full year marketing campaign that elevated bookings in both early and late season, adding to increase of total room revenue for the island.

Advance 360 is still the DAOR for Mackinac Island and 2018 pacing is currently on track to exceed campaign key performance indicators.

Results

From 2013-2018, since Advance 360 has become Mackinac Island’s Digital Agency of Record, they have seen the following increases:

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CREATIVE EXAMPLES

Digital Ads:

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Website:

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Local Real Estate Professionals Rebrand Under New LARA Guidelines

Not every client of Advance 360 brands within rigid guidelines, but in the real estate industry, Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs dictates what’s possible. Add to that the branding guides for their real estate affiliate partner and you have a highly regulated system for your brand. Such was the case with Steve Volkers Group of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Michigan.

“When we first began refreshing our brand identity we vetted a few local creative agencies for the project. We were impressed by Advance 360’s professionalism and strategic approach and we decided to jump into this crazy journey with their team leading the charge,” said Steve Volkers. But more important were the guidelines the brand was required to follow. The Advance 360 team spent time with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices’ staff, to ensure the end designs would align with corporate policy.

The Group Sets the Tone

Research must come first, and that means that the feelings and ideas of the team and how their brand is viewed is paramount. The group, together in a room, must articulate the aspirational vision for their brand. With guidance from the Advance 360 team, these concepts are harnessed and consensus formed, crafting a shared language around the purpose of the brand.

Of this process, the Group’s Director of Marketing, Amber Gray, had this to say. “Our project started with a full team working session. It was a great way for our entire group to level-set on how we see our brand, what we want for it in the future and why those pieces are important. The outcome of that working session was a strategic chart that was shared every time we regrouped so that we all knew how we got to where we are.”

“It was not only helpful but humbling to know that our voices and opinions were heard and taken into account along the way.”

“Once the creative output started coming in, we were beyond thrilled. Andrew Olson, Creative Strategist, nailed it with the overall design theory of our new brand identity.”

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Co-branded Logos

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Now in the process of web development/programming, the Steve Volkers Group is putting into action Advance 360 designs for their digital footprint. The team, including Senior Account Manager Kristin Hartwig, “took an immense amount of care and effort to propose a user experience based on our analytics and, of course that initial team working session,” said Gray.

This effort included content architecture recommendations for the numerous sites in the Steve Volkers Group portfolio: GR Downtown Condos, Steve Volkers Group, Alger Heights and West Michigan New Homes. The end result: a content stream that would be easily navigable, intuitive for the user, and preserve the SEO quality previously established by years of exceptional content generation. The look and navigation of these sites is under construction (hidden from view of the public) until its official launch summer, 2018.

“We are confident that the final result will exceed our performance expectations. Not to mention, it’s so pretty! This group of creative and talented individuals has been a dream to work with. Their knowledge and hard work shines in every step of the way.”

88.3% INCREASE IN ADMITTED STUDENTS

Public, four-year state university leverages re-targeting to bring in Top Recruits

How can a state university recruit the most impressive student prospects online? Especially when there’s no database that tracks students by GPA or academic performance. For the College of Science at a four-year state university, recruiting high schoolers who excel in science, tech, engineering and math (STEM) was a top priority. The state university worked with Advance 360 to reach STEM students online and increase enrollment in the College of Science.

We developed a four week digital campaign leading up to National Decision Day, when seniors choose which college to attend — researching the 40 top-performing STEM high schools in the four closest states. Half of the campaign went toward mobile in-app ads, geo-targeted to those schools. Any student who engaged with an ad and then left the area were retargeted later using the other half of the budget. In total, the university spent less than $3,000 to deliver 250,000 ad impressions over four weeks. By National Decision Day, the results were in.

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Graduating Godly Individuals: Grace Christian University

Grace Bible College, a Grand Rapids, Michigan based institution in the community of Wyoming, is completing a comprehensive rebranding project. The scope of this effort included not just a rebrand and retooling of the organizational identity, but also a name change.

As the College was transitioning to its newly-awarded University status, it was also analyzing consumer sentiment, brand equity, shifting perceptions, and marketing efforts of recruiting in the Christian higher-education academic environment. “Our mission is to graduate Godly individuals prepared to serve Christ in Church and Society,” said Grace President and graduate Dr. Ken Kemper. “The transition to Grace Christian University will honor their legacy and strengthen our future.” This change positions the University to continue its great work under a new name.

“Our mission is to graduate Godly individuals prepared to serve Christ in Church and Society,” said Grace President and graduate Dr. Ken Kemper. The transition to Grace Christian University will honor their legacy and strengthen our future.”

Of the decision to bring a professional firm into the Grace environment to assist with the process, Brian Sherstad, Executive Vice President had this to say. “Even the decision to investigate the potential of a name change was significant for Grace. We knew we only had one chance to get it right and sought professional guidance. As we began the selection process for a firm able to guide us through the rebranding process, we saw a clear difference between Advance 360 and other firms.”

“Advance 360 brought to Grace’s rebranding exactly what we had hoped. They accepted our initial data collection efforts and added to that body of data. They understand the dynamics brought by multiple layers of institutional stakeholders and helped us gain buy-in. The entire process had clear deliverables as well as a clear path to reach the end goal.”

The years-long process to reach a new name and brand included town hall sessions, charrette style workshopping with stakeholders, and prayerful discussions by the Board of Directors and Administration. The new logo and image of the University will be integrated during summer 2018, and the first graduates of Grace Christian University will occur in 2019.

The Stages of Renaming

“All existing data should first be analyzed,” said Anne Drummond, Advance 360 Senior Creative Director. “Once we’d read, questioned, and discussed the available information, we were able to craft exercises that would help stakeholders to clearly articulate missing pieces.”

Workshop activities resonated with participants, but also provide opportunity for a broad spectrum of stakeholder participants to share individual ideas, listen and comment on others’ thoughts and feelings, and identify ideas and elements that most closely resemble their vision for the organization. This information was combined with prior survey results, town hall meeting sentiments and analysis of other colleges’ experiences in rebranding from either a college to a university including a name change. In addition, a study by Barna Group, produced in partnership with the Association for Biblical Higher Education offered market context and statistically relevant input.

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Of this process, “Advance 360 clearly identified both intended and unintended consequences at each point of decision giving us the information we needed to make good decisions with confidence,” said Sherstad.

From an initial 163 unique naming conventions, the final name was fashioned, and the design work begun. Using a three-step process of a) compass point b) exploration and c) refinement, the brand’s visual identity took shape.

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Former Name and Logo

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New Name and Logo

The new name and logo have been shared with students, faculty and donors.

“The attitude Advance 360 demonstrated at the beginning, as well as through the entire process, was one of being honored that Grace would trust them with such important work as our institutional identity. From beginning to end, Advance 360 demonstrated that our trust was well placed.” ~Brian Sherstad, Executive Vice President, Grace Christian University

A New Face with a Familiar Voice: Advance 360 Rebrands Statewide Organization

It’s official: the Michigan Lodging and Tourism Association has a new name, and a new look for its legacy. Together with partners and members throughout the State of Michigan, Advance 360 guided their journey to their new name and brand, now known as Check In Michigan.

Who is Check In Michigan?

Check In Michigan is an association for the hospitality and tourism industry, leading efforts to benefit hotels, attractions, and hospitality ventures through out the state.

The Scope of Work

Michigan Lodging and Tourism Association, as it was formerly known, knew that they were poised to reinvent themselves. Under new leadership and with a changing landscape for lodging entities with the surge in short-term rental companies like Airbnb, the collective efforts of advocacy on legislation around Post-Labor Day Academic Year, minimum wage and Pure Michigan funding, the work of the association was stronger than ever, but their dated identity no longer served them well.

Advance 360 was contracted to develop charrettes for the stakeholder groups across the state, use the findings to develop a logo and identity system, and launch a new web presence for the association’s conference and institutional websites.

Of this work, Deanna Richeson, President and CEO of Check In Michigan wrote, “Our association has a rich history of 112 years representing a widely diverse industry, and we wanted to forge a stronger future for our hotels, attractions, and hospitality ventures. We envisioned honoring the contributions of those who were before us, and yet opening our arms to embrace younger generations of rising leaders. Clearly this required the skills of master communicators! Over several months, [the Advance 360 Team] created a process that was inclusive, reflective, expansive and thorough. We held several focus groups with a diverse kaleidoscope of hospitality stakeholders, including engaging exercises that gleaned rich insights into the values, emotions and preferences of our participants.”

The Charrette Experience:

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The association’s team recruited a diverse group of open minded individuals to share their thoughts and stories. Activities generated forward iterations on individual ideas, and the groups were able to weigh in personally as well as in groups. From 68 ideas that emerged during these discussions, 16 common themes were forged, crossing the generational, business, and personal preferences of those in the rooms. These themes became the source for creative inspiration for logo designs.

But These Journeys are Rarely Linear

“Just when we thought we were nearing our final stage, MLTA realized we were envisioning a new culture and decided to choose a new name as well a new logo. We were also racing against the clock to announce our new brand at the annual industry conference,” said Richeson.

Advance 360’s regroup was immediate. An additional focus group, called the “Groundswell” was formed to further explore the concept of a new name, build further “buy-in” to this change in direction, and build upon what had already been explored. Activities during this session built to a crescendo around the strategic priorities that would need to be reviewed by the Board of Directors.

This charrette was followed by two board planning sessions to do just that. These sessions were intense for everyone, but harvested the best version of commonality across all the collected data and overcame any hesitation around change for the organization at large. The board was a united team and was energized to “grow forward.”

Now What?

Now the design began. Over a months-long process, the guiding principles of the association were built into a verbal representation of the brand (name) and the visual representation (logo). The group that carried us forward toward that end was formed with executive team members, board members, and a cross section of industry representation.

“None of us looked back, but instead focused on the tasks ahead with a team of stakeholders who met to guide the design process with their input. The result was stunning … a look that was strong, professional, inclusive, inviting, and even a tad fun.”

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Former Logo

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New Logo

The former logo represented a time when the State Capital served as the center of the lodging and tourism universe for the association. This simply is no longer true. The association has transitioned to an immersive model. The team and board are truly wherever their membership is, and wherever their membership requires them to be. Their multi-faceted mission is more than just advocacy, but has expanded to include education, workforce, and community.

Alongside this rebrand was also the digital presence of the organization, which needed to reflect the energy, momentum and credibility of Check In Michigan to the public.

“Once the brand identity was complete, the final leg of our marathon was creating the “brand reveal.” Our Advance 360 partners created the presentation that will inspire nearly a thousand conference attendees, from scripting to creating an animated video that excites the imagination and “cool factor” among our audience. I am completely confident in the positive reception of our new brand identity, and in the electrified energy the audience will experience at our brand reveal,” said President Deanna Richeson.”

See what conference attendees saw, here.

Advance 360 is an affiliate of Advance Travel & Tourism

Creative Tells the Story

Tideline Ocean Resort and Spa is a unique client. They have a strong sense of self, understanding what niche they want to fill for their clientele: a chic, boutique hotel experience with exceptional amenities, offering ocean view banquets and weddings and al fresco dining in West Palm Beach. Unfortunately, their changing ownership and management companies, along with a deflagging from a franchise hotelier left them without a usable logo, identity system or creative assets.

In addition, they needed a web presence worthy of the property itself. The vast majority of their reservations were taking place with online travel agents (OTA’s), and unnecessarily sacrificing margin to those third party entities. The return on marketing investment was untraceable, as the technology was not being used to its potential. In short, this resort needed an identity and a campaign, quickly.

Our team first performed a market analysis of competitive properties in the area. Our review included all that would appeal to the core customer of Tideline Resort, rather than focus on like-sized or properties with similar entities. What we discovered: The property’s beach was exceptional, better than the competition in space and size. The dining offerings were fresh and desirable, with a credible sushi chef and sought after brunch buffet. The spa offered traditional services, specializing in bridal groups. All of the pieces were in existence, the hotel simply needed to generate the creative assets to tell the story.

The Advance 360 Creative Team then came on site to collect video and still photo assets, staging hotel spaces, vignettes, and amenities in order to capture just the right pieces of the story.

From there, a new website/digital environment was produced and launched, as well as a campaign to generate lift in brand awareness and site visits, and reduce third party booking agents.

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Creative Examples

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William & Mary Athletics’ Social Campaign Draws Record Attendance

The College of William & Mary sought assistance with ticket sales for their basketball season. With a layered targeting approach, Advance 360 used lat/long targeting (also known as geo-fencing) to target students on campus, with messages specific to student ticket pricing. List-matching and social media targeting was used to find alums within a specific radius of campus, and those viewers were encouraged to engage with the purchase of season or single tickets. Additional audiences with an interest in basketball, special events or sports were also targeted and delivered messages around the affordability of tickets, and specific athletic events and dates.

Overall, this campaign achieved record attendance for the University, tripling the men’s basketball audience and quadrupling the women’s audience YOY.

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Fruit Company Offered Finest Products, but Lacked Measurements for Success

With zero ability to measure ROI on marketing initiatives and zero integrated digital marketing strategy, Shoreline was operating at a disadvantage. Though their website effectively meets the needs of direct visitors, Shoreline Fruit was missing a vital component – a holistic marketing strategy designed to expand their audience, reaching those still steps away from the “visit a website” piece of the customer journey. They had built the piece, but the audience wasn’t coming. We dug into the data-driven realities of Shoreline Fruit’s ideal and targeted audience. Using this market research data and our understanding of the stages of the customer “path to conversion,” Advance 360 fashioned a comprehensive campaign. The campaign focused on identified targets as well as other targets determined during our collaboration with Shoreline Fruit. Next steps involved converting this knowledge into action.

“One of the things Advance 360 will be helping us with specifically is social media. Since January, our Facebook likes have already grown 116% and our LinkedIn followers are up 146%.”

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Peter & Company Jewelers Increases Awareness and Revenue with Strategic Marketing

By all accounts, Peter & Company was a successful Cleveland jeweler. With their concentration on special occasion jewelry, diamonds and engagement, and specialty brands, they had all the devices to gain and keep their clients’ attention.

But at Advance 360, we knew that with a strategy centered around events and special occasions, true gains could be made. We built for them a layered campaign with evergreen, event, and other segments, targeted at those that could be most influenced.

Marketing Challenge

Peter & Co. is a single point customer service oriented jewelry retailer that has been in business for 30 years. They have/had partnered with jewelry specific agencies over the past decade. Peter & Co. wanted to understand how their marketing efforts were performing, have a better knowledge of their customer base, and be able to better leverage the digital space.

Our Solutions

  • We proposed becoming their Agency of Record to handle ALL marketing efforts
  • A full CRM and POS data analysis was performed
  • Custom reporting was created to track both web analytics and POS performance in one place
  • We built them a 12 month media calendar including digital, video, print, radio, signage, etc.
  • Our team coordinates and/or activates and optimizes all of the media plans
  • Our creative team initially designed campaigns for Always On, Mother’s Day, Spring, and Summer

Capabilities:

  • Display impressions
  • Campaign management
  • Design
  • Video
  • Photography
  • Responsive rich media
  • Social media marketing
  • Print advertising
  • Email
  • Direct mail
  • Blog
  • Exterior signage
  • Store collateral & signage
  • Swag items
  • Catalogs
  • Holiday website
  • Campaign analytics
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Creative Samples

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