Guest Blog: Experience #lifeincbus: Change the image perception of Columbus
Being born and raised in Columbus, I knew what others thought of my city – “It’s a Cowtown,” “all of Ohio is flat corn fields” and “everything shuts down after dinner.” I also knew that those things couldn’t be further from the truth. When I started working at Experience Columbus a year and a half ago, they were working with a research firm to gather insight on the national perception of Columbus, and many of the perceptions I had heard were shown in their results. The study found that while national travelers think Columbus is smart, family friendly, environmentally friendly and clean, there were three main issues they focused on:
- The lack of nightlife and urban vitality
- Ease of finding things to do here
- The perceived lack of icons, such as recognizable landmarks and monuments
While Columbus residents and visitors (once they made it here) gave Columbus a high ranking in potential (quality of college education, ease of finding a job, being a good city to start or grow a business and having opportunities to get ahead), national travelers (those who have not been here) and residents of D.C. and Chicago thought otherwise, giving us a low ranking in these areas.
After seeing these results, it became our job to change the image perception of those who saw Columbus in a negative light. As residents, we all know how great our college football team is, what a foodie city we are and that there is plenty of nightlife experiences to choose from; but how could we convince outsiders of this, get them to visit and potentially even permanently move here?
In May 2014, we launched the #lifeincbus campaign, an external marketing campaign that targets a young audience in specific markets where relocation potential is high. The target demographic of this campaign is “young transitionals” – 25-35 in age, influential in their social circles, entrepreneurial, creative and willing to relocate in the next three to five years. The campaign features a lifestyle portal website, lifeincbus.com that is designed to expose Millennials to all that Columbus has to offer. The website functions as a conglomerate of aggregated content from local media outlets, Instagram and Twitter hashtags alongside other curated content.
Chicago and D.C. are the target markets for #lifeincbus because they are large population centers with a heightened awareness of Columbus. The campaign utilizes wallscape billboards, transit-based advertising in metro stations, elevator videos in high-rise office buildings and online rich-media ads targeted toward local blogs and websites with a young readership. The idea behind this is that when these young transitionals get to the point where they are tired of their long commutes and high cost of living, Columbus will be top of mind for their relocation consideration.
Success for the campaign has been tremendous. Overall site traffic to lifeincbus.com is up 343% over last year thanks to the local community engaging with the hashtag and sharing everything that’s great about our city. Pageviews have increased by 264% and the bounce rate has decreased by 26%. We’ve also found that the advertisements have been wildly successful in our D.C. and Chicago markets, increasing our share of site traffic coming from the Chicago DMA by 2200% over last year and from DC DMA by 1900%.
For those national travelers that are making a visit to Columbus, our blog, The Columbus Experience, has a slew of ideas for things to do, see or experience when you’re here. Blog posts range from A Columbus Festival for Every Summer 2015 Weekend, Insider Tips for the Columbus Zoo or Why Columbus Should Be Your Foodie Getaway This Summer and is a great resource for anyone coming to visit Columbus.
Online Content Editor