Bill Gates once said, “Our success has really been based on partnerships from the very beginning.” Successful business people understand the importance of creating strong business partnerships.
Having invested my past 10 years at Pennsbury Manor as the Director of Marketing and Public Relations, I have learned how important it is to create strong, long-term partnerships to build visibility for this non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. Pennsbury Manor itself is a partnership, a collaboration between the State of Pennsylvania and The Pennsbury Society. The two work hand in hand to preserve the recreated 17th Century country estate of William Penn and keep it operational year round. There are 43-acres to maintain, numerous buildings to keep up, collections to conserve, animals to feed, and a great story to market.
The state provides support through its in-house marketing staff, which in turn promotes Pennsbury Manor and many other historic sites throughout the State of Pennsylvania. While these marketing efforts reach out to numerous regions within the State, it is my responsibility to bring visibility on a local level by reaching out to a more immediate geographical area. So how do you take a historically significant site and let people know who you are on a non-profit budget? Partnerships!
Marketing Strategy includes Memberships
Traditional print and radio advertising proved to be too expensive for our slim budgets. While an eye catching full-page color ad often looks great, a one-time advertisement was not going to get the media exposure we needed to increase our visibility in a highly competitive marketplace. We needed more impressions for less costs. For non-profits, being creative and utilizing outside resources to assist in marketing efforts is critical. Successful marketing plans need to incorporate the use of non-traditional methods. One of the keys to our success is our ability to leverage our partnerships. For Pennsbury we found that fit by becoming members of the Lower Bucks County Chamber of Commerce, Visit Bucks County (Bucks County Convention and Visitors Bureau), and Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau.
These organizations continue to be wonderful resources and a perfect fit with our brand. What can they provide for a small historic site?
Increased presence through networking
Event and sponsorship opportunities
Membership does bring its privileges! Through collaborative marketing efforts, many organizations can leverage greater advertising opportunities for their members and provide them with media exposure on a much greater level than they could afford individually. Through our memberships we have been able to place advertisements in national publications at a fraction of the actual cost if we were to go solo. We also have the opportunity to purchase low-cost advertisement on travel and tourism websites and most recently helped host a Bucks County day for a local convention of tour bus operators. The key is discovering organizations that work best with your business and will bring you the best return on your investment.
Time to Get Social
Recent statistics quote an amazing 51% of the population in the United States have a Facebook presence. Social media networking, like Facebook and Twitter, have become a powerful marketing tool for Pennsbury Manor. In order to stay relevant and competitive in today’s market it is critical we have an online presence on these and other social networking sites. It was important for us to identify a social network that can connect you with our target audience. Connecting with an audience that will most likely engage with our brand and historical product was our goal. It just wasn’t “build it and they will come.” Once our social platforms were developed, we needed to find a way to increase our visibility.
Once again it was important to partner with organizations that were seeking mutually beneficial goals to help us increase our online presence. For Pennsbury Manor that meant reaching out to other historical sites, area tourist attractions, tour bus operators, convention and visitor bureaus and local media helped us increase that circle to a wider audience. The investment of time for us to embrace social media networking has paid dividends. My team and I enjoy seeking fans, friends and followers for Pennsbury. By asking them to “Like” our Facebook page and follow us on twitter we now feel connected in a different way to our guests.
We found it important to proactively engage our audience in conversations on these social networking sites. By giving and engaging, we end up receiving more comments and see a willingness to share our material within their own communities and ultimately expanding our reach. If you have not yet sought out “Power Partnerships”, get things started today. The possibilities are endless. Be creative, keep your audience informed, engage in lively interactions, and build lasting partnerships.
About the Author
Tabitha has spent the last ten years as Director of Marketing and Public Relations at Pennsbury Manor, the 17th Century country estate of William Penn. She served for two years as Chairperson for the Convention & Visitors Committee at the Lower Bucks County Chamber of Commerce and currently sits on the Membership Committee for Visit Bucks County. Tabitha has been a resident of Bucks County for 20 years and enjoys being an ambassador for its rich history.