It is the intent of the South Carolina Information Technology Management Office on behalf of the Research Office in the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism (SCPRT) to solicit proposals from qualified contractors to perform marketing research studies related to tourism advertising and public relations campaigns conducted by SCPRT.
SCPRT’s overall marketing objective is to support tourism, a cornerstone of South Carolina’s economy, in all areas of the state. Since 2013, SCPRT has shifted its primary marketing focus from promoting the state’s coastal and developed destinations to promoting areas of the state that have small advertising budgets and which are in need of the economic development that tourism generates. The tourism product in many of these areas is more oriented towards small town, nature and adventure activities than beach or urban activities. South Carolina’s State Parks operated and marketed by SCPRT, are often among the most important tourism products in rural areas. The primary advertising strategy utilized by SCPRT is paid space advertising, especially for domestic markets. However, SCPRT uses multiple marketing strategies including participating in travel trade shows and consumer shows.
The objective of SCPRT’s domestic, leisure, consumer advertising campaign is to increase awareness of –and preference for– ‘Undiscovered South Carolina’ as a tourism destination in targeted, domestic markets, driving inquiries, trips, and visitor expenditures to these rural and underexposed areas of the state. Currently, targeted markets are states and cities east of the Mississippi. SCPRT’s FY1718 domestic consumer leisure advertising campaign runs from July 2017 through June 2018 and includes paid space ads in broadcast, print, out of home, online and social media. Creative executions primarily reflect activities such as camping, biking, kayaking, historical sites, state parks, horse racing and similar activities. Executions featuring activities such a beaches, urban shopping and attractions at coastal destinations are uncommon.
The objective of SCPRT’s international, consumer, leisure advertising campaign is to raise awareness of and preference for South Carolina as a tourism destination among consumers in targeted, international markets.
Creative executions placed in these markets is oriented more towards traditional, coastal destinations. In the short-term SCPRT intends to drive inquiries, trips and visitor expenditures from these markets. In the long-term SCPRT intends to raise its profile to that of a premier global travel destination.
The objective of SCPRT’s public relations program is to boost awareness of and preference for South Carolina as a tourism destination among consumers in targeted domestic markets, coordinated where possible with focused advertising efforts for maximum effectiveness.
The purposes of the marketing research outlined in this Scope of Work are to gather information necessary to develop and refine SCPRT’s marketing strategy to evaluate SCPRT’s advertising efforts (for domestic consumer leisure campaigns only), to evaluate SCPRT’s public relations efforts, and to test concepts of new advertising campaigns as they are being developed and after launch.
SCPRT does not conduct inquiry conversion studies that use inquiry databases to provide survey samples. As a result, SCPRT is not requesting proposals recommending inquiry conversion studies nor will SCPRT consider such proposals. SCPRT wishes to utilize the most efficient, innovative and effective measurement and analysis techniques currently available to inform and evaluate its marketing efforts.
SCPRT’s budget for marketing research activities may change from year to year based on priorities of the agency or the appropriations received from the General Assembly. The offeror shall be responsible for all travel and other personal expenses incurred by the firm for work related to SCPRT’s contract.
Scope of Work:
Task 1: Marketing Strategy Development
The contractor shall conduct primary research and use existing secondary data to develop recommendations for strategic direction of SCPRT’s marketing activities, including efforts directed towards domestic leisure travelers and international leisure travelers. The research shall consist of one or more of the following components:
Component A – Demographic/Psychographic Segmentation
The contractor shall conduct primary research to provide recommendations on which demographic and/or psychographic audience(s) SCPRT should target in order to achieve agency goals. Recommendations shall include analysis of whether SCPRT should differentiate between or focus on any demographic or psychographic segments, i.e whether these segments require different messages.
Component B – Geographic Targeting
The contractor shall conduct primary research to provide recommendations on where, geographically, SCPRT should place advertising in order to achieve agency goals. Research shall include recommendations on which markets should be considered core markets versus those that are long-term or developing markets.
Component C – Message and Media
The contractor shall conduct primary research to provide recommendations on what message and media SCPRT should use to communicate to targeted consumers in order to achieve agency goals. Recommendations shall include analysis of current emotional connection between targeted consumers and South Carolina as a tourism destination, South Carolina’s overall tourism brand among targeted consumers relative to individual destinations throughout the state, and most advantageous media venues (e.g., TV, direct mail, direct email, internet, social media, mobile, out of home, magazine, newspaper, and radio).
Component D – Competitive Considerations
The contractor shall conduct primary research to provide recommendations on how to distinguish South Carolina as a vacation destination from its competitors in order to achieve agency goals. Recommendations shall include analysis of states or destinations that form a competitive set with South Carolina, comparison of South Carolina’s qualities and products relative to its competition, consumer preference of South Carolina relative to its competition, and consumer perceptions of South Carolina relative to its competition. Research components A through D, associated with the task above may be completed as multiple integrated studies or a single study.
Task 2: Evaluation of Domestic Consumer Leisure Advertising
The contractor shall conduct primary research to evaluate the success of SCPRT’s fiscal-year (July-June) domestic consumer leisure advertising campaign in accomplishing agency goal(s). The research shall measure awareness/recall/impact of SCPRT’s advertising, attitudes about South Carolina and SCPRT’s advertising among targeted consumers, and the ability of SCPRT’s advertising to create interest in travel to South Carolina. Using primary data collected as part of this task, the contractor shall also address the following specific concerns:
- Demographic/Psychographic Segmentation – The contractor shall assess whether any consumer segments in South Carolina’s current markets respond disproportionately negatively or positively to SCPRT’s advertising.
- Geographic Targeting – The contractor shall analyze advertising performance across geographical markets.
- Media Recommendations – The contractor shall analyze advertising performance across utilized media platforms. The contractor shall measure the synergy between offline advertising media, online advertising, and SCPRT’s websites and social media efforts.
- Competitive Considerations – The contractor shall compare performance of SCPRT’s advertising with advertising efforts of competitors. Copies of competitors’ ads can be obtained for testing by SCPRT.
Task 3: Ad Concept and Collateral Pre-testing
The contractor shall conduct primary research to pre-test the appeal and effect of image(s), concept(s) and messages(s) in new ad creative, in SCPRT’s travel guide and in other collateral materials during their development. Research may include qualitative research, such as focus groups (traditional or internet) or individual interviews and quantitative research, such as household level surveys.
Task 4: Ad Concept and Collateral Post-Testing
The contractor shall conduct primary research to post-test the appeal and effect of image(s), concept(s) and messages(s) in new ad creative, in SCPRT’s travel guide and in other collateral materials after finalization. Research may include qualitative research, such as focus groups (traditional or internet) or individual interviews and quantitative research, such as household level surveys.
Task 5: Evaluation of Public Relations Efforts
The contractor shall conduct primary research to evaluate the success of SCPRT’s Public Relations campaign in accomplishing agency goals. SCPRT currently maintains a clipping service and on-line monitoring service for media coverage generated from within the department. Research shall measure consumer awareness/recall of PR efforts, attitudes about South Carolina among targeted consumers, and ability of SCPRT’s PR efforts to create interest in travel to South Carolina.
Ad Hoc Research Tasks
SCPRT reserves the right to expand research tasks as budget allows. Additional ad hoc research tasks that fall within the scope of services requested in this RFP, but which are not specifically itemized above, may be added to the contract as long as budget and deliverables meet with SCPRT approval. These tasks may be billed at an hourly rate.
SFAA, Div. of Procurement Services
MMO Large Conference Room
1201 Main Street, Suite 601
Columbia, SC 29021
Lou Hammond Group has an office in South Carolina and could be a fit.