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July 17, 2012

Southwest St. Louis County Fair Marketing Plan

MSA Professional Services, Inc.


July 17, 2012

Contents Introduction .............................................................................................................................. 2 Market Analysis........................................................................................................................ 3 Target Audience ....................................................................................................................... 3 Regional Competition .............................................................................................................. 4 Marketing Environment ............................................................................................................ 5 Market Positioning ................................................................................................................... 7 Branding as a Heritage Fair ..................................................................................................... 7 Brand Name ........................................................................................................................... 7 Brand Tagline ......................................................................................................................... 8 Brand Logo ............................................................................................................................. 8 Marketing Strategies.............................................................................................................. 10 Pricing ....................................................................................................................................... 10 Reinforcing the Brand with Themes and Activities ............................................................. 10 Annual Themes .................................................................................................................... 10 Activities................................................................................................................................ 11 Media & Promotions ............................................................................................................... 12 Community Involvement & Partnerships ............................................................................. 13

Acknowledgements Special thanks to the Southwest County Fair Board in general and Roger Hill specifically, and MSA in general and Stephen Tremlett, AICP, Jason Valerius, AICP and Renee Samuelson specifically.

SW St. Louis County Fair Marketing Plan

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July 17, 2012

Introduction The Southwest St. Louis County Fair aims to offer interactive, educational and entertaining displays and activities to increase awareness and appreciation for the heritage and culture of the Floodwood area, and increase visitation to the City. The Fair is held annually at the newly dedicated Four Rivers Legacy Park, near the confluence of the Floodwood, East Savanna, Saint Louis and Whiteface Rivers. The volunteer Southwest St. Louis County Fair Board oversees planning and operations of the Fair, including contracting with local artists and demonstrators. The Fair Board commissioned this Marketing Strategy to increase overall attendance and attendance of targeted audiences, to create a brand for the Fair, and to improve budget and programmatic sustainability. This document identifies the target audience, describes the competitive environment, and recommends a marketing strategy including promotional methods and partner coordination. The strategy laid forth in this plan offers cohesive and effective year-round marketing for the Fair, branding the Fair as an experience in culture and distinguishing it from the regional, entertainment-based fairs. In addition, several promotional strategies are recommended for increasing attendance, many of which are free or are of little cost to the Fair.

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SW St. Louis County Fair Marketing Plan


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Market Analysis Target Audience The entertainment and recreation market in St. Louis County is diverse and competitive, and fairs must constantly evaluate their offerings to maintain their relevance and attendance. It is important to explicitly identify a target audience for the Floodwood Fair, so that all efforts to increase attendance can be aligned with the interests of that audience. The Fair Board has identified families, including men and young adults, as the target audience for the Marketing Strategy. In the past, the Fair’s attendees have been predominantly women and mothers with children. This is likely due to the predominance of craft products and activities at the fair. A natural strategy to increase attendance is to add features and activities that attract the rest of the family, especially men and young adults. A second aspect of the target audience definition is its geographic characteristics – this will guide discussion about both the competitive marketplace (with whom are we competing to attract visitors?) and promotional efforts (where should we focus our limited marketing resources?). For the purpose of this study we have identified a 50-mile radius to define the geographic area that should be the focus of market analysis and promotional efforts. This roughly corresponds to about a 60-minute trip to Floodwood, or less. This area, shown below, includes Duluth and Superior, WI to the east, the Iron Range cities to the north, Grand Rapids and Deer River to the west, and Moose Lake to the South. This geographic area is home to about 300,000 residents, including about 35,000 family households with children.

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July 17, 2012 A third aspect of the target audience is bypass traffic on Highway 2. According to the Minnesota Department of Transportation, average annual daily traffic travelling past Floodwood is about 4,500 vehicles. There is no data available to describe the makeup of the population travelling in those vehicles.

Regional Competition In general, the Fair’s competition is any activity or event occurring in or near the same timeframe that appeals to the Fair’s audience. This is a very broad definition and can include anything from amusement parks and museums to fishing trips and summer camps. To identify a more accurate representation of the Fair’s competition, we can narrow down the criteria to include only events that are associated with the type of programming offered by the fair (i.e. heritage, cultural and educational activities) as well as other nearby fairs. Fair Competition within a 50-mile radius Aitkin County Fair (Aitkin, MN) Carlton County Fair (Barnum, MN) South St. Louis County Fair (Proctor, MN) Itasca County Fair (Grand Rapids, MN) St. Louis County Fair (Chisholm, MN) Head of the Lakes Fair (Superior, WI)

2nd week in July 3rd week in August 2nd week in July 3rd week in August Last weekend in July 3rd week in August

Event Competition within a 50-mile radius Heritage/Community Pride: Tall Timber Days (Grand Rapids, MN) Carlton Daze (Carlton, MN) McGregor Wild Rice Days (McGregor, MN) White Pine Logging & Threshing Show (Finlayson, MN) Brickyard Days (Wrenshall, MN) Remer Annual Harvest Festival (Remer, MN) Merritt Days (Mountain Iron, MN) Catfish Festival (Floodwood, MN) Arts & Crafts: Land of the Loon Arts & Crafts Festival (Virginia, MN) Art in Bayfront Park Art Fair (Duluth, MN) Antiques/Car Shows: Cloquet Classic Car Daze (Cloquet, MN) Threshing & Antique Show (Grand Rapids, MN) Fall Color Festival (Floodwood, MN) Music: Annual Bayfront Blues Festival (Duluth, MN)

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1st weekend in August Last weekend in July Last weekend in August Last weekend in August 1st weekend in August 2nd weekend in August 1st week in August 2nd weekend in July 3rd weekend in June 3rd weekend in August 1st weekend in August 2nd weekend in August 3rd weekend in September 2nd weekend in August

SW St. Louis County Fair Marketing Plan


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Although there are several nearby heritage events in July and August and six county fairs within a 50-mile radius that can be viewed as competition, it is important to note that each event has unique characteristics and a variety of activities that attract many different types of audiences. When assessing this “competition”, we should ask: • • • •

What audiences is this event attracting? Why? Is this our target audience? What events occur at the same time as the Southwest St. Louis County Fair? What activities can we implement to keep and attract attendees despite these other events? What characteristics or cultural aspects set Floodwood apart from these locations?

It is safe to assume that many of these events are attracting the identified target audiences. Experience tells us that certain activities are appealing to the male and young adult audiences including automobile racing and motor shows, food and beverage vendors, live music, and targeted social events (e.g. teen bonfires, etc.). Although not all of these activities are possible or desirable, many can be implemented in the spirit of heritage at the Southwest St. Louis County Fair to encourage increased male and young adult attendance. Three events are generally scheduled for the last weekend in August and include Carlton Daze, McGregor Wild Rice Days, and the White Pine Logging and Threshing Show. Because Carlton Daze and McGregor Wild Rice Days are community-specific, it is unlikely that the Southwest St. Louis County Fair will be able to draw attendees from these events, barring a very unique attraction. The White Pine Logging and Threshing Show may serve as the stiffest competition to the Fair, featuring cultural events related to the logging industry. Fortunately, the White Pine event is one of the furthest from Floodwood, on the edge of the 50-mile radius and almost an hour and a half driving distance. A closer look at the “competing” county fairs indicates that they are, in reality, competition to the Southwest St. Louis County Fair in name only. All of these events center on typical county fair activities including midway games, 4-H style competitions, rides, auto racing and live music. In addition, the Southwest St. Louis County Fair is the last of the season in this list of events. In light of these factors, we recommend that the best strategy for setting this fair apart is to drop the brand of “County Fair” and all of its connotations. This is explained further in Section 3: Marketing Strategies.

Marketing Environment

In addition to competition, one must consider the marketing environment, which includes economic, geographic, and political factors. Geographic factors limit the Fair’s attendance due to its rural location and proximity to more well known cultural amenities in the urban areas. Political factors in this case will come into play during programmatic planning and within the inherent politics of competing communities.

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July 17, 2012 And economic factors will have implications in both the supply and demand of the Fair’s activities. The economy and financial stability are deciding factors in whether the Fair will be able to increase attendance and improve budget sustainability. From the Fair Board’s standpoint, creative and sustainable funding will be necessary to plan an attractive event and market the Fair successfully. From a fairgoer’s perspective, the Fair must offer something that is worth traveling to and spending income for, and be more attractive than the above-mentioned competing events or typical summer activities. In other words, the Fair must offer interesting and appealing activities with limited resources that present the best value for the regional community.

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Market Positioning Branding as a Heritage Fair Branding defines the Fair’s image in the target audiences’ mind. Brands can consist of a name, tag line, design, symbol, or any other distinguishing feature or combination of features. The brand must be informative and memorable enough to instill curiosity in the viewer and be recalled at a later date. Brand Name In order to more effectively reach the target audience, the Southwest St. Louis County Fair should be rebranded as a “heritage” fair. This nomenclature distinguishes the event from the other regional county fairs, provides information to the audience about the activities and products available at the event, and associates the event with the facilities at the Floodwood Four Rivers Legacy Park throughout the year. In addition, because there are two other annual St. Louis County Fairs, a specific locator term like Floodwood or Four Rivers should accompany the Fair name to distinguish the event. The main disadvantage of rebranding the fair as a “heritage” fair (rather than a “county” fair) is it may affect County funding for the fair. However, it is our position that the advantages outweigh the possible loss of funding from the County. The minimal funding support provided by the County (ribbons and prizes valued at about $250) could be quickly offset by an increase in attendance and customer purchases at the fair (see Marketing Strategies). The rebrand of the Southwest St. Louis County Fair should contain three components: a locator term (with or without optional modifier), the event focus, and the event type. Options for brand name components include: Locator Term

Optional Locator Modifier

Event Focus

Event Type

Floodwood Four Rivers

Regional Rural

Heritage Legacy Cultural

Fair Days Exposition Festival

From this menu of options, we recommend “Four Rivers Regional Heritage Fair”. Four Rivers Regional” not only identifies the unique location of the Fair, but also expands the relevance to the “region”. The branding as a heritage fair informs the audience that activities at the Fair will be historically- and culturally- oriented.

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July 17, 2012 Brand Tagline A tagline serves as an overlying theme for the annual event’s activities. It provides a sort of abstract for the Fair’s atmosphere, solidifying the brand in the viewer’s mind. A catchy tagline is inviting and incorporates the identifying characteristics of the area and event. Statements that capture the essence of the Fair include: • • • • • •

Exploring the past Embracing culture Reliving heritage Celebrating history Welcoming the future Cultural inclusion

• • • • • •

Community pride Showcasing craftsmanship Relearning heirloom skills Fun and educational Old-fashioned Tradition

The recommended tagline for the Four Rivers Regional Heritage Fair attempts to encompass most of these traits: “Celebrating our past, present, & future” Brand Logo In addition to a recognizable name, logos create instant public recognition of a product, entity or event. Like the brand name, the logo should incorporate identifying features of the event and location, including factors like unique symbols, abstract representations, and color. Below are draft alternatives created for the Four Rivers Regional Heritage Fair.

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SW St. Louis County Fair Marketing Plan


July 17, 2012 After client feedback, a final (recommended) logo was created incorporating many distinct features of Floodwood and its rich culture, including: • • •

Blue and green colors consistent with other tourism signage in Floodwood, evoking the area's rivers and forests, Cursive lettering resembling flowing water, and A silhouette of a river (between the number “4” and the “R” of Rivers) establishing a recognizable symbol that people can associate with the region and the Heritage Fair.

Note: The acknowledgment to the SW St. Louis County Fair could be removed from the logo without affecting its effectiveness (see the “Brand Name” section for more information). Logo colors need to be verified with the existing tourism signage.

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Marketing Strategies In order to effectively attract target audience members, a variety of marketing strategies must be utilized and repeated. Not only does a diverse array of strategies reach more people, but repeated exposure increases information retention and recall. The following section describes the Four Rivers Regional Heritage Fair’s optimal marketing mix.

Pricing

Cost is one of the most important factors in the target audiences’ decision on whether or not to attend the Fair. The pricing scheme should be established annually by the Fair Board based on the following factors: • • • • •

Existing funds (including grant monies) Contractual costs for demonstrators, etc. Fair operational costs (including any required permits or licensing) Costs of competing events Planned improvements/activities for the following year.

Cost of admittance to the Fair should not be dramatically increased from year to year. It is suggested that any major increase in funding need be realized through exhibition fees or outside funding. In addition, the Fair Board will work with the City of Floodwood to partner on capital maintenance costs.

Reinforcing the Brand with Themes and Activities

Reinforcing the brand with interesting annual themes and heritage activities that appeal to the target audience is imperative in increasing and retaining attendance. As previously mentioned, the Fair historically has had high attendance from women and children, and would like to increase attendance of men and young adults. The following themes and activities aim at decreasing this gender/age gap in future Fairs. Annual Themes Annual themes, in general, are like taglines, providing immediate information as to the kinds of activities and events that can be found at the Fair. It is expected that most annual themes will center on a particular component of Floodwood’s heritage, where major events will align with this theme. Standard annual events will also be present regardless of the specific annual theme. Themes should be targeted and carefully chosen to attract the greatest number of people. For example, a focus on the historical change of Floodwood’s economy may simply be called “Floodwood’s Evolving Industry”. However, one may expect a greater

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July 17, 2012 turnout of the targeted population if the theme were instead: “Chainsaws to Cheese: Floodwood through Time”. Pairing such a theme with targeted activities like cheese exhibitions, chainsaw artists and logging sports will complete the event experience. Themes that the Fair could focus on include: • • • • • • •

Logging Dairy farming Fur trading and trapping Native American tribes Rivers Camping and canoeing Local ecosystems

• • • • • •

Savanna Portage Homesteading Railroad Floodwood notable natives Ethnic heritage (French, English, etc.) Music

Activities The Fair should include activities that connect to the theme and draw specific audiences to the Fair, like those mentioned above, as well as recurring and popular activities that ensure attendees will return in subsequent years. Activities that create a sense of connection and community, have significance outside the Fair environment, and/or create healthy annual competition can all be important in securing repeat fairgoers. Examples of annual background events and theme-based feature events are listed below. Annual Events Exhibitions (produce, baking, flowers, artisan foods, wine) Native American culture (clothing, folklore, face painting and head wear, etc.) Food and beverage vendors Artists demonstration/exhibits (dancing, music, painting, sculpture, etc.) Heritage and Heirloom skills educational demonstrations (canoe building, basket weaving, cow milking, butter making, candle making, logging, loom, moccasins, quilting, pottery, etc.) Preview to the Fall car show Antique/artifact shows (Native American artifacts, antique farming /logging/ trapping equipment, general antiques, “Antique Roadshow” style event, etc.) Auctions/ silent auctions Arts and crafts vendors Used book sale Communal food (pig roast, community picnic, etc.) Raffles Talent competitions Live music Teen-targeted activities (dances, bonfires, leather bracelet making, outdoor movies, Wii/ Rock Band competitions, etc.) Youth art exhibitions

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July 17, 2012 Feature Events Communal food event (pig roast, community picnic, Native American style feast, etc.) “Antique Road Show” style event Community encampment construction- build and erect an encampment for future Fair use Music festival Battle of the Bands Live theater, reenactments River regatta Lumberjack Competition/ Showcase Bicycle Race

Media & Promotions

The purpose of promotion is to build awareness, create interest, stimulate demand and reinforce the brand. In order to successfully attract the target audience, the Fair must advertise using strategies that are both cost effective and reach the greatest number of potential fairgoers. To achieve this, the Fair will utilize a variety of media- newspaper, television, radio, social media, and electronic media. The Fair’s Promotional Action Plan is as follows: •

Create a Four Rivers Regional Heritage Fair website using a free platform like WordPress or Blogger. A competition to design the best website could be used not only as an opportunity to produce a free high quality site, but also as a mechanism for creating interest and community ownership in the Fair. Another advantage to creating a Fair website is the ability to include the link on other website and blog comment sections. Careful consideration of comment posting can dramatically increase regional awareness of the Fair. Get published on other websites (i.e. St. Louis County, Explore Minnesota) to promote this event with a link to our newly created website. If possible, provide a description of activities at the event to help position the heritage fair apart from other fairs taking place during the same period. Establish Facebook and/or Twitter accounts to keep people up-to-date on planned activities and Fair promotions, post pictures, get “Liked”, and offer benefits to “Friends” like admission/vendor discounts. This strategy is specifically well-suited to the young adult market. Design flyers and posters to post throughout the community and larger region in restaurants, shops, grocery stores, community bulletin boards, churches, community centers, schools, and other highly visible places. Paper publications can also be included in community mailings like utility bills or newsletters. Advertise in main stream media including newspapers, local television, and radio. Press releases and ads should both be utilized. Advertising discounts for non-profits and discounted promotion in exchange of sponsorship may be available as low-cost options.

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Promote the Fair at other community events. For example, the Catfish Festival is an excellent opportunity to promote the upcoming Heritage Fair. Sell merchandise (e.g. shirts, hats, key chains, etc.) with the rebranded name, tagline and logo to provide free advertising whenever the merchandise is worn, as well as, provide another source of revenue. To offset some of the costs associated with selling/offering this merchandise, local businesses could be sponsored on the merchandise. In return, the merchandise could be offered at lower prices, or provide greater profit, and help promote local businesses within the local economy.

Community Involvement & Partnerships Garnering the support of the community and developing strategic partnerships will not only increase Fair attendance, but may also provide services, goods, and activities that otherwise may not be available to the Fair due to limited resources. These collaborators should be engaged early and often to ensure the highest quality fair for the most number of people. The Fair recognizes the following important partnerships and will actively pursue areas of collaboration: •

• •

The Floodwood Community: The buy-in of the citizens of Floodwood is imperative to the sustained success of the Fair. Any effort to include the community in planning, set-up, operations, and post-Fair activities should be considered. A community survey may be useful in evaluating what activities fairgoers have enjoyed in the past, what activities they would like to see, and what activities they think would draw the most people. The City of Floodwood: The Fair should continue to partner with the City of Floodwood in event operations and capital improvements to the Four Rivers Legacy Park area. Local Businesses: Local businesses are important potential partners for advertising, vendor products, volunteers, and possible monetary support. Sponsorships, booths, and exhibit space at the Fair should be offered to the Floodwood business community. Civic Organizations: Civic organizations are often valuable partners in advertising, operations and fundraising. The Fair should consider contacting local as well as regional organizations for collaboration. These organizations should also be considered when planning activities, as many have unique focuses and member talents. For example, a historical society may have a group of members who perform reenactments. Local School Districts: Collaboration with the Floodwood Public School District and other neighboring districts is imperative in attracting more teens and young adults. Many partnering strategies have been mentioned in the previous section (e.g. posting flyers). Other strategies include: o Framing the website design competition as a class project o Asking the Yearbook staff to do a story on teen Fair activities (e.g. talent show, bonfire, etc.) o Showcasing student art/projects at the Fair

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July 17, 2012 • •

Native American Tribes: The Fair should work with the Mille Lac and Fond du Lac tribes to secure demonstrators, commission artists and art work, offer vending space for Native crafts/food, and design other heritage events. State of Minnesota: State agencies like the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Agriculture may be able to offer demonstrations and educational exhibits.

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SW St. Louis County Fair Marketing Plan


SW St. Louis County Fair Marketing Plan