One of the most effective ways to market your brand is to make a meaningful connection with the personal passions of your target audience. Tourism Ireland successfully deployed passion-point marketing in the run up to the 100th anniversary of the April 15 sinking of the Titanic.
The deluge of news reports, commemorative programs, books and movie re-releases is evidence of the passion that the Titanic tragedy stirs in the hearts and minds of many. The fact that the ship was built in Belfast, Northern Ireland, afforded the city an opportunity to enhance its tourism profile as the authentic birthplace of the world’s most romanticized ship.
Our challenge for Tourism Ireland was to achieve standout attention for Belfast in the sea of “Titanica” and to convert consumer interest in the event into an intention to visit.
Tourism Ireland’s experience has led us to identify four essential pillars of passion-point marketing success:
-Passion pools: Identify the sizable consumer passions for which your brand has a credible, distinctive proposition. When we discovered that there were more Google searches for Titanic than there were for Belfast, we knew then that we had a passion worth engaging.
-Valuable content: Engaging with passionate consumers requires content that they find valuable enough to pay attention to. We identified a niche in short films telling stories of Titanic that offered us opportunities for product placement.
-Appropriate homes: The content must be housed in an environment designed to maximize credibility and conversation. Given the evident scale of Titanic passion, we built a dedicated Titanic Stories website with related social presences and invested in building traffic over 18 months before the actual 100th anniversary.
-Connections, connections: Connecting your content with the related pools of passion that are spread around the Web, and the globe, builds your audience. Aside from online content marketing, we found allies in media outlets that needed to tell their take on Titanic whether through reportage or sponsored program development.
The engagement levels we achieved with Titanic were strong. Our dedicated Web presence received over 725,000 visitors from January to April, with video views hyperlink exceeding 460,000 and a Facebook fan base of 120,000. The media organizations we engaged with sent 180 journalists to visit Belfast and generated over $50 million worth of overwhelmingly positive publicity.
And the return for Belfast was extraordinary. There were 110,000 visitors to the city’s new “Titanic Belfast” visitor attraction in its first five weeks, which positions it as the second largest paid attraction on the island of Ireland.
A historic tragedy has been transformed into a modern-day success that has delivered a step-change in the tourism profile of Northern Ireland. Connecting with an emotional and global consumer passion powered that transformation.
Mark Henry is the Central Marketing Director of Tourism Ireland, the agency responsible for promoting tourism to the island of Ireland from across the globe.