Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest users are the anticipated targets of a new marketing effort to promote yearly happenings in Solvang.
The Abbi Agency, a marketing management consultant hired by the city in July, recently proposed dedicating 75 percent of Solvang’s paid media budget to social media advertising alone. While winning approval from members of Solvang’s Tourism Advisory Committee, the proposal prompted a conversation on a shift in targeted demographics from past advertising campaigns.
Connie Anderson, vice president of client strategy at the Abbi Agency, led a presentation on the proposal during the Tourism Advisory Committee’s Sept. 1 meeting.
“As far as target audience goes, there was a big overriding theme of trying to reach a younger audience,” Anderson said, commenting on responses from members of the committee, collected via a 23-question survey on the group’s future objectives.
The Abbi Agency used the survey results to draft a marketing and media plan, which includes goals to increase Solvang’s revenue partly by increasing awareness of the city through “an emphasis in social media engagement,” Anderson described during the Sept. 1 presentation.
Anderson said that the target audience of social media advertising for Solvang-based events, including Julefest, should be ages 26 to 40. Less than a year ago, Tourism Advisory Committee member Tracy Beard argued that “the right target base” for Julefest is “over 45 years old.”
“They do not look on their phones, they do not look on their Instagrams,” Beard said, during a Solvang City Council meeting in November 2021, while speaking in favor of a television advertising campaign for Julefest.
During the Sept. 1 meeting, Beard didn’t argue against the demographic shift, but questioned one example of the Abbi Agency’s current Instagram efforts.
“Why are we doing OstrichLand? Is it that big of a deal? It’s in Buellton,” Beard said, referring to a recent Instagram reel posted by the city’s account that promotes Ostrichland USA.
Anderson said that the Buellton destination was listed on Solvang’s website as a nearby attraction, prior to the Instagram post, and that the reel received “quite a bit of views and engagement.”
Comments on social media presence and the city’s marketing demographic continued after Anderson’s presentation, during the Tourism Advisory Committee’s only other agendized item for its Sept. 1 meeting: Julefest 2022.
In August, Beard and fellow Tourism Advisory Committee member Kim Jensen were appointed to lead a subcommittee solely dedicated to organizing this year’s Julefest program. One of the event organizers who attended the Sept. 1 meeting to speak about early Julefest preparation was Gena Lugli, producer of the Solvang Nativity Pageant.
Lugli said she appreciated the Abbi Agency’s goal to reach younger audiences through social media, but argued that “here in the valley, I feel like we’re still attracting an older, more traditional crowd as well.”
Part of the Nativity Pageant’s $30,000 budget will include the cost of printed programs, which Lugli feels will be beneficial to attendees who don’t want to rely on their cellphones to access a digital program.
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