The State of Maine Seeks Marketing Firm
The Department is seeking proposals to provide marketing services to promote harness racing as defined in this Request for Proposals (RFP) document. Historical marketing efforts have been poorly funded, managed by volunteers and focused in traditional media such as network television, newspapers, and radio. Nowadays, traditional media advertising is less effective in reaching most demographics excepts for retirees. The Department is looking for innovative, forward-looking marketing approaches that utilize the latest science and research, exploit the industry’s assets, improve the public perception of the industry and are effective at attracting new and younger fans.
Maine’s harness racing industry enjoys a rich history linked to an agrarian lifestyle more common in Maine’s past. The industry flourished into the 1990s when competition for entertainment and wagering dollars intensified. In addition, the percentage of the populous associated with agriculture has declined precipitously, resulting in less familiarity and affinity for horses and racing. Currently, Maine’s harness racing fan base leans heavily toward an elderly demographic, with little representation among working-class adults, especially on the younger end of the demographic. In addition, Maine’s racing venues tend to be old and lacking in upgrades and modern amenities. These factors present challenges to attracting new fans.
Historical marketing efforts have been poorly funded, managed by volunteers and focused in traditional media such as network television, newspapers, and radio. Nowadays, traditional media advertising is less effective in reaching most demographics excepts for retirees. The Department is looking for innovative, forward-looking marketing approaches that utilize the latest science and research, exploit the industry’s assets, improve the public perception of the industry and are effective at attracting new and younger fans.
Scope of Work:
Marketing efforts must focus on improving the perception of Maine’s harness racing industry, increasing awareness of the industry and increasing fan participation. Secondarily, the marketing efforts should encourage the public to become involved in the sport as owners and/or breeders.
The services will include close coordination with the MHRC and industry representative in the development, oversight, management, and implementation of a comprehensive, integrated, strategic marketing plan.
The plan will be intended to:
- improve the public perception of Maine’s harness racing industry;
- increase awareness;
- increase fan participation in harness racing;
- increase breeder/owner participation in the industry and in the Maine Sire Stakes Program; and
- improve the economic viability of the industry.
- Additional Services
Specific services will include soliciting input and working with the MHRC and an industry promotional advisory committee; developing and implementing a marketing activity plan covering the entire racing season; acquiring the necessary resources—such as images, video, audio and print necessary for marketing efforts; developing advertising and messaging; negotiating and purchasing advertising across a broad array of marketing platforms; anticipating and preparing for public discourse in a manner that controls the message and narrative; organizing, contracting for and coordinating photographers, videographers, writers and graphic artists; developing press releases, articles and social media posts. The successful Bidder must work closely with the Executive Director of Harness Racing Commission to assist with social media posts, website posts. press releases, articles and position papers and responses to adverse publicity.
The successful Bidder will implement a system to measure the success of the marketing program relative to goals outlined in paragraph A above. To the extent feasible, the measurements should rely on empirical data, but may be supplemented with more subjective metrics. The measurement program shall be agreed upon through consultation with the MHRC.
The MHRC will host the website and work collaboratively with the successful Bidder to enhance the utility of the website. The MHRC website will serve as an information repository and clearinghouse. Additionally, for any Facebook and Instagram advertising the MHRC will post/boost the ads directly through its current accounts and pay for the boosts.