Potter Park Zoo Board discusses new marketing plan

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By Kyle Koehler
Ingham County Chronicle staff writer

On Wednesday, March 12, Amy Morris, public relations representative from the Martin Waymire firm, presented a new marketing plan for 2014 to the Potter Park Zoo Board.

Morris has been working with the zoo since August, when the zoo contracted Martin Waymire. She told the board that the demographic that the zoo needs to reach out to is women between the ages of 25 and 35 that have children, which she calls the “Calling All Moms Campaign.”

“Only two out of three people come to the zoo without children,” Morris said.

Morris plans to reach this demographic by updating the advertising media the zoo is currently using as well as potentially using new forms of media.

Morris has already been using a monthly electronic newsletter to advertise to current members, and said she would continue to do so because it encourages the members to keep coming back.

For events the zoo has planned ahead of time, Morris has prepared material for those newsletters, saying it keeps them “ahead of the curve.”

Morris added that copies of the newsletter could be placed in buildings where the target demographic frequents: doctors’ offices, dentists’ offices and similar places.

Morris also told the zoo to continue updating its social media and to spend more time on them. Right now, the Potter Park Zoo has a
Facebook page with more than 17,000 likes, a Twitter account, a Pinterest account, and an Instagram account (@potterparkzoo).

Morris said that Facebook is a “great way to promote events, especially the fun events,” adding that paid advertising on Facebook is a good way to do that, since the ads are personalized to each account.

On Facebook, one of the biggest hits the zoo had was a video of Miles the otter playing in the snow. “It went crazy,” Morris said. “People love to know what’s going on in the zoo.”

Morris advised the zoo to eliminate its advertising on digital billboards to spend the money in more effective ways, including traditional radio and Pandora radio commercials.

“We found that the digital billboards, because they do rotations, they aren’t effective,” Morris said. “They’re beautiful, but not worth it.” Morris added that on digital billboards, the rotations are about eight a minute, which isn’t enough time to grab the attention of and inform the public.

Director Sherrie Graham brought up the issue of newspaper advertising. “I get crucified if docents’ classes are not advertised in the Lansing State Journal.”

Morris said that newspaper advertising is important, but many sites have online editions that may be cheaper, adding that she would like to explore MLive.

County Commissioner Deb Nolan said she would like to advertise in The State News in order to increase traffic from Michigan State University.

Richard Snyder, zoo board member and professor of zoology at MSU, agreed. “We’ve ignored it (advertising to students) for too long!”

Snyder pulled out a report that said around 48 percent of zoo visitors are local. “That brings us back to MSU,” he said. “It’s right in our backyard!”

After discussion was completed, Morris and Graham said that they would meet again to finalize details.

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