One of the most comprehensive services that Solimar International offers is our Integrated Marketing Program. The model entails a tailored, uniform marketing strategy across all platforms that highlights and meets the goals of a certain destination or business. We recently saw great success using this approach in our Namibia North American Destination Marketing (NADM) project, in which Solimar was asked to raise awareness of Namibia as a prime African tourism destination for North American travelers. The success of the NADM integrated marketing program led to an increase in North American arrivals and double the number of travel trade selling Namibia. Natasha Martin, the project’s leader, gives a more in-depth analysis of the strategy’s impact.
What were the reasons for selecting an integrated marketing program method in Namibia?
We knew we needed to match the changing landscape of online travel marketing with whatever solution we proposed. And we had a limited budget, so using non-traditional marketing helped us stretch the budget further. As you know, it’s easier to target whom your messages reaches online because the tracking is so much better.
What were the first components you identified for launching the program?
We started in late 2011, so we identified a blog, Facebook, Twitter. But as the campaign progressed things changed. And we had to bring in Pinterest and Instagram. These were especially good for reaching niche markets.
What were the biggest challenges you faced in developing the strategy and how were they overcome?
The biggest challenge was probablytime management, you can spend forever digging deeper and deeper into social media communities, having one on one conversations, etc., but you can lose track of priorities. Having a content calendar really helped us to manage time and thematic posting, and ensure consistency.
As you’re wrapping up the project, in what ways do you feel the integrated marketing strategy has been effective?
It has increased awareness of Namibia, it has shared the key messages of the country – so that it’s not just “a country in Africa” but “an adventure destination” and hopefully more people can associate with its assets. I really feel that before we started the project there was much less awareness about Namibia, and now its on the adventure travel map. We appealed to a wide range of travelers from culinary tourists, adventure travelers and families as well.
Looking back on the program, what would you say were the keys to success with the Namibia campaign?
Flexibility, and the ability to make changes to the program (for example, when Facebook apps became redundant, we stopped making them).
What are the advantages of using an integrated marketing program strategy?
A multi-pronged approach is always better; otherwise you put all your eggs in one basket so to speak.
Through this approach, Solimar was able to expand existing and create new itineraries centered on a community-based tourism strategy, significantly increase the number of North American tourists traveling to Namibia, as well as double the number of North American tour operators offering trips to Namibia, speaking to the value of a practical and effective Integrated Marketing Program.