As a marketing communications agency dedicated to the social good, few things get the Civilian flag flying higher than an opportunity to partner with like-minded clients. If a proposal lines up with our values and relevant experience, we’re basically running on jet fuel, and won’t rest until we’ve given it our all to secure that business.
Imagine our elation, then, when the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority invited agencies to battle for the right to bring their new brand purpose to life. Since we were dealing with a high-profile, marketing-savvy client, we knew that a conventional proposal response would not suffice.
Armed with our founder Stacey Nelson Smith’s unwavering support (and her direction to “follow our bliss”), we had the encouragement we needed to think outside the box. With the overarching goal of authentically delivering the Airport’s new brand promise to travelers, employees, partners and the community, we started by effectively conveying our familiarity with the airport, the region and the transportation space, and then injected our personality and passion into every page of our submission.
We replaced the traditional organizational chart that usually goes into RFP responses with an Instagram account, complete with professional shots of key players and pictures of each member personifying the Airport’s brand purpose. We continued posting, followed key decision-makers and nudged them to announce our presence and continue the conversation long past the submission deadline. We then continued posting and connecting with the decision-making team long after the submissions were in to let them know we were engaged not just for short commutes but for the long-haul.
We replaced the standard boilerplate language one usually finds in proposals with warm and conversational messaging that not only responded to the stated needs, but also wove in our staff’s roots and long standing commitment to the community we’d be serving.
Weeks later, when we got the news we were selected for final-round interviews, we rallied our troops and created the perfect in-person extension of the shared experience we’d been building.
Armed with our dream team (which included a corgi with a GoPro), balloons, gift bags with San Diego essentials, and some outside of the box thinking, we set up shop in the arrivals area of San Diego International Airport and filmed our interactions there. We did this to demonstrate that we weren’t just an agency with relevant experience and technical expertise; all of our team had a deep, emotional connection to the core of the new brand – exactly the proof the Authority team was looking for as they decided who could best deliver the goods.
Fast-forward to a few weeks later: as soon as Stacey received the email from the Authority she nearly ripped the “new business” office bell out of the drywall when she rang it to announce that we’d won the contract. After some hugs and smiles, we took a deep breath, went back to our desks and rolled up our sleeves. Now, it’s time to get to work.
We’re incredibly grateful to the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority team for providing such an inspirational road map – we’re thrilled to be working alongside them and can’t wait to see what we can accomplish together – for our teams, for the community and for the 24 million travelers who pass through the airport every year.