The Art And Science of Marketing Manchester

Marketing, it is often said, is halfway between art and science. I would have to agree, but for many our ‘artistic’ side is much more obvious. A lot of our most public facing work at Marketing Manchester is about crafting campaigns and concepts that capture the imagination and position our city-region as a place people want to visit, live, invest and learn in. You will hopefully have seen, and remember, some such as our iconic Santa campaign, created in partnership with Manchester City Council, TfGM and Heart of Manchester BID, that sells Manchester as a Christmas shopping destination (it was recently shortlisted for Best Integrated Campaign at the Roses Creative Awards). Or our Halloween campaign that helped increase footfall by 20% over the Halloween weekend and generated £740,000 in media coverage. We also craft campaigns for international markets such as our ‘It All Starts in Manchester’promotion targeting US consumers. It framed our city as the place visitors can start their adventures in the north of England and included the incentive of a free pint in a Manchester pub for passengers on the new flights from Boston and San Francisco.

We also flex our creative muscles in other areas, such as the video we created for the European science conference ESOF on the Peppered Moth, which captured Manchester’s continual transformation and adaptability in a clever visual allegory. Thanks to our partnership-led approach we are able to deliver these campaigns with small seed investment that is boosted by funding leveraged from our national promotional partners and private sector stakeholders.

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But it is the cool hard ‘scientific’ side of our work that drives these campaigns. Our long-term strategy for the visitor economy is evidence-based and determined by identifying emerging markets and demographic segmentation. Our work to attract investment in areas such as Advanced Materials, Life Science, and Digital, Creative and Technology is underpinned by in-depth analysis of our region’s sectoral strengths. We are serious about evaluation and continuous improvement, measuring our success through our key performance indicators, which we have recently published the figures for for the last financial year. They paint an encouraging picture. Tourism is now worth £7.9bn to Greater Manchester’s economy, a 5% rise from the previous year. This is being driven by an increase of international visitors, which were up 3% to 1.38m and the 107.9m day visits from people across the UK. Together this helps support 94,000 full-time tourism jobs across Greater Manchester.

Our domestic campaigns have increased visitor spend in the region by £70m and reached 119m consumers. Our press team have hosted 206 journalists and helped generate £8.5m in coverage reaching 290m people, while our conference bureau attracted 38 conferences that will bring 15,000 delegates to our city and help generate £25m for the local economy. Our investment team undertook over 1000 business-to-business engagements and reached a potential 62m people through press work. Our website, meanwhile, attracted over 2.5m visitors and we have over 210,000 Twitter followers and 80,000 followers on Facebook.

These are encouraging figures and work is now well underway on the campaigns and projects to build and improve on them this year, because, like Greater Manchester, we are serious about delivering tangible returns on investment. When you think about it our city-region is also a great mix of the artistic (with our superb culture, sport and nightlife) and the scientific (our growing economy and our key sectoral strengths) which makes it a pleasure to sell its story on the national and international stage.


Sheona Southern
Managing Director, Marketing Manchester