A day in the life of Jaanika Reinvald, Visitor Experience Assistant for the National Trust
I work at Brimham Rocks, a relatively small countryside property that attracts over 200,000 visitors a year, the vast majority of them come at weekends and in school holidays. The marketing challenges for the property are twofold. We need the high visitor numbers to raise the money essential for running the site on a daily basis as well as fund the ambitious conservation projects. At the same time, though, we do not really want to increase the overall visitor numbers, rather spread their flow evenly all around the year. As a result our promotional strategy is simple – only market the site during quieter times of the visitor season to attract guests in off-peak season.
We raise funds to support our conservation work, in particular the installation of new footpaths. Upgrading our infrastructure is necessary to keep up with the ever growing visitor numbers. As we are a small property it is commonplace that the staff get involved in all aspects of the site management. As a result most property staff and volunteers do a bit of fundraising in the form of raffle ticket sales.
My typical workday :
Meeting with the representative of a local business, an independent farm-based ice-cream parlour, to discuss mutually beneficial promotional schemes. We discover that the profile of our customers is very similar – both sites attract a majority of families with young kids. Our conclusion is clear - in order to keep the visitors in the region for longer and help them plan a full day out some cross-promotion is necessary. During the trial phase we swap posters, flyers and leaflets, agree on another meeting in a couple of months to compare the outcome and see whether our strategy has born fruit.
The deadline for the next regional newsletter is looming on the horizon - it is time to write an article, for example, about our amazing Christmas offer, expanding crafts programme or new walking trails. Having already collected details about the new product ranges in retail, local produce available in catering it is time to visit the conservation department and see what their plans are for the season.
Updating property marketing and communications plan – a vital tool for observing the progress of each promotional channel from central promotion and web content to press releases and social media.
Daily morning staff briefing.
Property facilities open for visitors. This is also the time when we start with active raffle ticket sales. Together with the raffle volunteers we set up the gazebo next to the busiest footpath. Successful raffle ticket sales depend on the number of visitors engaged. As all our fundraising efforts are currently going towards new footpaths families with buggies and mobility scooters buy the highest number of tickets.
A marketing volunteer has arrived to discuss current promotional opportunities. It appears that she has come across a work of art depicting an iconic view of our site by a well-known artist and is sure that unveiling this piece of art and sending out a press release beforehand will help us attract more independent adults. We arrange a photo shoot for the following Friday to capture the painting with the depicted view.
Before lunch there is just enough time to review our web page. We need to make sure the information is tailored to the needs of a first-time visitor. This is an excellent opportunity to train the volunteer in the use of the web content management system.
Meeting the videography volunteer to discuss the topic for the next video clip. As a site concentrating on nature conservation we are keen to promote our wildlife. It is spring and we agree that ground-nesting birds are an excellent choice for the next video clip. The shooting and editing of the video is a time-consuming activity, thus presenting the clips is postponed until next spring. We also discuss the possibility of filming the life of rabbit populations throughout the year. The length of these video clips is fixed – under one minute for social media, around five minutes for use on property web pages.
Raffle volunteers have finished their day. On a sunny day they may have sold over 30 tickets.
Catch-up with the site manager discussing the potential crowdfunding. There are many aspects of infrastructure that need upgrading on site – is crowdfunding an avenue to be further explored?
Attend fundraising webinar explaining the mechanisms of a crowdfunding project.
Presentation at a local community museum with the aim to raise awareness of the site and the economic impact it has on the region.
To sum it up, our budget for paid promotion is small. Hence, we concentrate on maximising free opportunities by writing press releases, using social media channels, attending local meetings, using in-kind promotion with local businesses and making sure we stand out through central promotion in the organisation such as regional newsletters and email campaigns.
Generally I can say that being involved with promotion and fundraising at a property in a large independent charity comes with its own inherent challenges. On the one hand there is a lot of in-house expertise and help available, on the other hand everything must follow the organisational brand guidelines. This role is an excellent stepping stone for people interested in a career in marketing or fundraising.
Find out more about Brimham Rocks at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/brimhamrocks