When the team at Crawford Strategy — including Andy Windham, senior vice president of client strategy; Michelle Thompson, digital marketing strategist; and Marion Crawford, president and CEO — was tasked with branding North Myrtle Beach, they had a unique challenge of ensuring that the destination was recognized as a separate entity from Myrtle Beach.
“North Myrtle is differentiated from Myrtle Beach, and there is a need for people to understand, ‘What is North Myrtle Beach?’ and let’s create an awareness and an understanding of what this is,” says Crawford regarding the agency’s approach. “And I think Andy has done a phenomenal job leading the team to do that.”
“The idea for ‘Just Coast’ was born out of that challenge. And what we try to communicate is that the idea of ‘Just Coast’ is not ‘come here and do nothing,'” Windham says. “In fact, it’s the exact opposite of that, and it’s that you can come here and you can have whatever kind of vacation you want. You can have a different kind of vacation each day. You can have adventure, solitude, and uninhabited desert island — you can have it. Everyone can be happy there. ‘Just Coast’ is kind of a way of saying, ‘Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.'”
Having an in-depth understanding of North Myrtle Beach was vital in creating effective advertising and framing it as a premier travel destination. “Our entire team has spent a lot of time with our client trying to immerse ourselves in the brand,” Windham says. “Myrtle Beach is one of the biggest DMOs [destination marketing organization] in the country, which is a good thing for North Myrtle but also a challenge, because we want people to choose to come to North Myrtle purposefully and know that it is different, it is unique, and has things that people don’t realize. That’s our strategic challenge.”
Crawford Strategy has observed tangible results from the “Just Coast” campaign. There have been clear visitation and accommodation tax collection results, and a third-party research team has seen that the top two things visitors say about North Myrtle Beach after visiting are that it is “beautiful” and “less crowded.”
“Those are two of the core central elements of the campaign,” Windham says. “The fact that the comments grew by double digits shows that not only are people coming, but they’re coming for the right reasons.”
Additionally, the website traffic itself has shown 130 percent growth from 2016 to 2017, and 58 percent growth so far this year. “All of the numbers are exciting,” Windham says, “but it doesn’t matter if you don’t have the right message.”