NC Aquarium Society

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The three North Carolina Aquariums’ and Jennette’s Pier are an exciting and unique combination of attractions for the State of North Carolina. The branding campaign package that we have created includes the monthly e-news component SEAmail, going out to 100 K + subscribers, and is designed and managed by SJD from N.C. Aquarium Society-supplied content. Also included in the package are rack cards for statewide distribution; ads; billboards; bumper stickers; vehicle wraps; direct mail; complimentary passes; fact sheets; magnets; custom hotel key cards; custom wine labels; gift membership packets; membership cards; and membership level car decals.

The process involves working closely with staff from both the NC Aquarium Society and the NC Aquariums’ headquarters based in Raleigh. E-mail, phone conferences, videoconferences, and personal meetings are all used to keep information and approvals flowing.

Goals: The North Carolina Aquariums and its non-profit volunteer support arm, the North Carolina Aquarium Society, are unique in that they now has four (4) distinct locations on the North Carolina coast. Each has its own mission statement and focus while all falling under the same state management division in the Raleigh headquarters. Additionally each location struggles to keep an independent image and to a degree, sub-brand, of the main overall mission (comprehensive brand) of the state's Aquariums Division. That main division brand in turn struggles to maintain a unified cohesive brand image to unite the four locations to the greatest extent it can to represent and project the identity of the state Aquariums. In order to be as efficient and centralized to the greatest extent possible, memberships, special programs, and administration functions in the central Raleigh headquarters. The task was further complicated when the fourth unit (Jennette's Pier, the first LEED Platinum pier on the east coast) opened in 2011 and was incorporated into the NC Aquariums website family.

Strategy and Tactics: One strategy to assimilate the multi-layered nature of this one unifying brand into a comprehensive message was to create membership growth and harvesting through promotions such as the Buy A Plank and Angler’s Club campaigns. Each involved developing its own marketing materials, Public Relations, advertising, etc. that is centralized and packaged as a unique brand. However each component of the materials was developed to allow for unique descriptions and depictions for each location and unit.

Execution: As an example of the above task solution, the online email newsletter component is the primary engine to promote all the comprehensive fundraising activities to the membership and supporters as a monthly newsletter with a comprehensive unifying brand banner and template.

Other marketing programs include a re-branded membership renewal direct mail component, and an "Adopt an Animal" promotion.

When marketing prescribes that unique materials are needed such as the Adopt promotion, each location has custom materials where an animal-specific package is tailored to the mission program for each location (i.e. Otters for Pine Knoll Shores, Alligators for Fort Fisher, and Angler's Club for Jennette's Pier).

Evaluation: The “Renew Campaign” impact on membership annual renewals saw an increase of over 50 percent over previous renewal rates afforded by tracking using the direct mail promo code in conjunction with a customized renewal e-blast to the expiring member database. The “Own-A-Plank” program alone generated over $240,000 for the Aquariums before selling out completely on the 1,000-foot-long pier. They ran out of pier!


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The three North Carolina Aquariums’ and Jennette’s Pier are an exciting and unique combination of attractions for the State of North Carolina. The branding campaign package that we have created includes the monthly e-news component SEAmail, going out to 100 K + subscribers, and is designed and managed by SJD from N.C. Aquarium Society-supplied content. Also included in the package are rack cards for statewide distribution; ads; billboards; bumper stickers; vehicle wraps; direct mail; complimentary passes; fact sheets; magnets; custom hotel key cards; custom wine labels; gift membership packets; membership cards; and membership level car decals.

The process involves working closely with staff from both the NC Aquarium Society and the NC Aquariums’ headquarters based in Raleigh. E-mail, phone conferences, videoconferences, and personal meetings are all used to keep information and approvals flowing.

Goals: The North Carolina Aquariums and its non-profit volunteer support arm, the North Carolina Aquarium Society, are unique in that they now has four (4) distinct locations on the North Carolina coast. Each has its own mission statement and focus while all falling under the same state management division in the Raleigh headquarters. Additionally each location struggles to keep an independent image and to a degree, sub-brand, of the main overall mission (comprehensive brand) of the state's Aquariums Division. That main division brand in turn struggles to maintain a unified cohesive brand image to unite the four locations to the greatest extent it can to represent and project the identity of the state Aquariums. In order to be as efficient and centralized to the greatest extent possible, memberships, special programs, and administration functions in the central Raleigh headquarters. The task was further complicated when the fourth unit (Jennette's Pier, the first LEED Platinum pier on the east coast) opened in 2011 and was incorporated into the NC Aquariums website family.

Strategy and Tactics: One strategy to assimilate the multi-layered nature of this one unifying brand into a comprehensive message was to create membership growth and harvesting through promotions such as the Buy A Plank and Angler’s Club campaigns. Each involved developing its own marketing materials, Public Relations, advertising, etc. that is centralized and packaged as a unique brand. However each component of the materials was developed to allow for unique descriptions and depictions for each location and unit.

Execution: As an example of the above task solution, the online email newsletter component is the primary engine to promote all the comprehensive fundraising activities to the membership and supporters as a monthly newsletter with a comprehensive unifying brand banner and template.

Other marketing programs include a re-branded membership renewal direct mail component, and an "Adopt an Animal" promotion.

When marketing prescribes that unique materials are needed such as the Adopt promotion, each location has custom materials where an animal-specific package is tailored to the mission program for each location (i.e. Otters for Pine Knoll Shores, Alligators for Fort Fisher, and Angler's Club for Jennette's Pier).

Evaluation: The “Renew Campaign” impact on membership annual renewals saw an increase of over 50 percent over previous renewal rates afforded by tracking using the direct mail promo code in conjunction with a customized renewal e-blast to the expiring member database. The “Own-A-Plank” program alone generated over $240,000 for the Aquariums before selling out completely on the 1,000-foot-long pier. They ran out of pier!