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Old v New

Social media provides a plethora of new communication and marketing tools for shopping centres, but it would be wrong to ignore traditional routes

front of the key audiences. Social media is rising up the agenda but many still prefer more traditional channels.

Shopping Centre’s own Twitter site (@scnewsfeed) hosts a list


of retail destinations that use the microblogging service to alert shoppers to events, promotions and new openings. So far, it seems less than a hundred – or about 10 per cent of the UK market – have active feeds. Rather more use the longer-established Facebook route with their own fan groups of avid shoppers. But it’s not just the regional megamalls that have spotted Twitter

as a relatively cheap communication channel. Smaller schemes like Ayr Central in Ayr are becoming active as well. According to Michelle Buxton, group managing director at Toolbox Marketing: “Social media is a vital weapon in the shopping centre marketers’ armoury to drive footfall, sales and awareness.” But she warns it is not a ‘magic bullet’. “There is a tendency to see social media as the new big thing, but it should not be used in isolation. It should be used in conjunction with more traditional marketing: promotional events, digital marketing, websites and the like.” When the Haymarket shopping centre in Leicester set out to

crown six ambassadorial ‘Real Shoppers’, it encouraged finalists to get support on their Facebook pages. The eventual winner gathered 3,178 votes. Here Toolbox Marketing combined social media with e-flyers, digivans in the town centre and promotional posters in-centre and clever PR to create a really successful event that raised awareness, increased community involvement and drove footfall and sales. So what other creative, cost-effective ideas are capturing the

imagination? Ipswich’s Tower Ramparts shopping centre, has turned to bus ticket advertising in a bid to increase the number of shoppers passing through its doors. The strategic move, reducing budget allocation in print and broadcast in favour of advertising on the back of bus tickets, has reaped huge dividends for Tower Ramparts and its media agency RB Media. The one-month campaign delivered by UK

ith service charges under pressure, shopping centre marketers are being forced to find ever-more creative – and cost effective – means of keeping their centres in

specialist Ticketmedia was the most successful competition Tower Ramparts has run in the past 10 years, resulting in an impressive increase in footfall and allowing for an unprecedented level of data to be captured for future marketing purposes. Tower Ramparts was forced to take a fresh look at its marketing

in January this year when Ipswich Borough Council closed the multi- storey car park servicing the centre for safety reasons. With 1,100 car parking spaces lost, the immediate impact on the centre needed to be addressed: Tower Ramparts needed to find new footfall streams in as short a time as possible. With people travelling by car having to find alternative parking

locations elsewhere in the town, RB Media investigated public transport options. Almost all the buses in the Ipswich area end their journey just outside the shopping centre, so RB Media looked into bus ticket advertising as a possible solution to the problem. “We needed to act quickly and effectively to produce a campaign

in just three weeks ready to roll out at the start of February,” says Nicki Daldry of RB Media. Ticketmedia designed the creative to put on the back of bus tickets. Simple yet effective, it invited passengers to enter a draw with the possibility of winning a number of prizes including £200 vouchers for Tower Ramparts. All the passenger had to do was fill in their name, contact number and email address, then post their entry form inside the centre. The data would then be added to the centre’s marketing database. At the end of the month-long campaign, the post box was full

to overflowing. Centre manager Mike Sorhaindo says: “We are just delighted with the response we have received. Not only has there been an associated increase in footfall from this campaign but the excellent data capture will be invaluable for future marketing campaigns.”

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