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For hospitality-client Ocean Place Resort & Spa in Long Branch, New Jersey, we are tasked each year with promoting events surrounding holidays like Mother’s Day and New Year’s Eve. In the past, these events were promoted solely in local print media, with a steadily declining ROI.

The Scenario

For the first event of the new year (Valentine’s Day), we were tasked to generate more revenue with a smaller budget. We determined that online and social media should be a major part of the overall media program. While we didn’t pull completely out of local print, the online supplement allowed us the ability to narrowly define the target and customize the creative accordingly.

The Results
As a result of adding online to the promotional mix, a total of 41 packages were booked, generating over $12,000 in revenue – a 17 to 1 return on investment.

Learning, testing and adapting keeps your program successful. What insights have you found in local-market targeting?

While there are many differences between not-for-profit and for-profit businesses, there is one thing that remains the same – they both require funding for programs and both face increasing competition for those dollars.

September is designated as National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.  Historically, CURE Childhood Cancer has done little to promote this to their followers or local market.

Despite the terrible economic times of 2009 and no budget for external media, Guest Relations Marketing developed a fund-raising program for CURE to coincide with the national promotion.

The Promotion

The aim of the CURE fundraising program was simple: to honor 30 kids, one for each day in the month of September, with each committed to raising $1,000 to benefit CURE Childhood Cancer. The promotion centered around capitalizing on the momentum of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month to raise awareness and money for CURE to help fund their mission, as well as honoring children who have personally had childhood cancer.

CURE reached out to families and received an overwhelming response to those wanting to participate, share their child’s story and reach out to their communities. In total, we honored 57 children throughout the month of September – some had beat the disease, some were in the midst of treatments, some had lost the battle.  Each family shared their own touching story and child’s photo.

Online and social media drove the promotion from a marketing standpoint. A page was created on the brand website, and each child featured on the homepage for “their day.” A personal fundraising page was created for each child on FirstGiving (an online donations website), where their personal story & photo was shared with the world. On their day, each child was also featured on the CURE Blog, as well as on Twitter (@CUREchildcancer) and Facebook Page.  The families also had the option to submit a list of email contacts to receive a series of 3 emails leading up to their child’s day to further help keep it top-of-mind.

The Results

The results were overwhelming! By identifying and activating the Zealots for CURE Childhood Cancer, we were able to engage new groups of people in a personal & connected way. The communications and participation was personal and motivating. And, the fact that it was driven purely by social media is truly a testament to the power of referral and creating viral communities.

  • Children honored: 57
  • Funds raised: +$171,000 (nearly 5.5 times more than our goal of $30,000)
  • 2,204 individual donors in the month of September alone (nearly as many as for 2008 in total)
  • September 2009 the most successful month of all-time for individual donations for CURE
  • Brand website Visitors grew by 30%
  • Page Views were 7.25 times higher
  • Facebook Fans increased by 27%
  • Email database grew by 41%
  • Twitter followers increased by 6.5 times

We know that activating “zealots” is the surest practice of marketing.  It is gratifying to see it come to fruition for such a noble cause as CURE Childhood Cancer. See more at

You can visit us online at Guest Relations Marketing.

Guest Relations Marketing recently created a zealotry marketing program for Daufuskie Island Resort & Breathe Spa.

The goal of the program was to reduce the Resorts long-term dependency on media dollars in newspaper to reach the local markets of Savannah and Hilton Head, and to have better control of effecting immediate business on the two championship golf courses in relation to course traffic for the week.

The “Daufuskie Island Insiders” program directly targets local-area people who are interested in receiving golf-related offers from Daufuskie Island Resort. The program is comprised of an online landing page where new members can register, and a series of e-notes that are sent out to the “Insiders” several times per month, promoting deals & discounts for the week, pro shop sales, special golf events, and more.  To further generate word-of-mouth among the local peer groups, we further incented golfers to sign up by providing new registrants with a free sleeve of golf balls at the Pro Shop. To kick-off the program, we utilized local newspaper, online banners and POS materials in the Pro Shop to reach the local golfers.


E-Notes with unheard of open rates (55-72%) and generous click-thru rates (5.5%-11%).  Industry standards are 18% and 4% respectively.

Pass-along rate and word-of-mouth referrals were outstanding at 2%, with 100% of referrers registering to join the program.

Continued redemption of offers & discounts at POS.

Database continues to grown without further media dollars.

Zealotry Marketing Lesson:

Zealots for Daufuskie continue to grown, evident by increased sign ups, positive word of mouth generation for the Island Insider program, and the most highly regarded research indicator of “likely to recommend” by those inviting their peers to join.

Build zealots for your brand and they will gladly share your message with their network of like-minded friends, and proudly refer you to a wealth of prospects just waiting to be converted into zealots for your brand!

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