Tomorrow is ‘The Big Reveal’ when the project team launches the Deal Card to invited businesses, journalists and other stakeholders. We’re showing the new website, a promotional film, the new range of cards; and publicising various offers by businesses.
Today concludes Phase 1, setting it up. Tomorrow begins Phase 2: taking the scheme operational. How did it make it this far when we were going to cancel it on 16th January?
Where did the idea come from?
The Deal Card scheme is based on a concept that’s been running for a couple of years in the similar nearby towns of Herne Bay and Whitstable. When we at 3Deal were invited to join the Deal Card team in November 2013, we did our due diligence and reported that it was a good concept but had zero engagement online. The Deal Card should use best practice with a thumpingly good website and a proper strategic engagement plan.
Deal goes it alone
The original plan included Deal’s neighbouring towns of Sandwich and Dover but the complexity and the number of stakeholders brought the project to a standstill and it teetered on the precipice of abandonment.
Deal had to go it alone. Bolstered by the town winning the Daily Telegraph British High Street of the Year in early January, the project team of Astor Theatre director James Tillitt, PR consultant Freddie Middleton, Town Innovations director Chris West and myself met to create the project plan.
It has proved to be a well-balanced team. James had his vision, the theatre’s resources, and the company infrastructure; Freddie brought a lifetime of public relations experience; Chris brought expertise in this type of project, particularly interfacing between councils and independent businesses. I brought my project management and strategic communications experience.
Start with the end in mind
Starting with the end in mind, we set out our aims:
- Deal Card Aim: To create an enduringly successful loyalty card scheme of national note.
- Marketing Aim: To permanently position the Deal Card at the economic and cultural heart of the town.
And then we set to work.
15 weeks of progress and hard work
The following dates tell the tale:
- 17th January: Project is Go! Tenders are requested from 5 website design companies.
- 31st January: Key presentation to obtain funding, after which Kent County Councillors Eileen Rowbotham and Mike Eddie each gave grants of £1000. This meant we could work up the specifications with our chosen website partner MT Studios.
- 24th February: Tony Hogben from MT Studios presents a detailed costed website design plan. He sets up a holding site at www.dealcard.co with a count-down until the 1st May launch: domain .co represents community.
- 4th March: 3Deal begins its strategic digital engagement plan by creating a presence on Twitter and LinkedIn. @DealCardCo starts tweeting. Deal Business Forum and Digital Deal discussion groups are created on LinkedIn.
- 6th March: At a well-attended breakfast meeting, the team presents the Deal Card to local businesses and journalists for the first time. Reception is overwhelmingly positive and the opportunity is taken to get email and social media details to solidify the digital engagement. The bacon baguettes and coffee rocked too.
- From 6th March: PR expert Freddie Middleton has been engaging and persuading dozens of businesses to come on board and dealing with the supportive local newspaper: the East Kent Mercury.
- From 6th March: @DealCardCo now has 158 followers, curated to be exactly the right local businesses and members of the public the scheme needs to communicate with.
- 27th March: Having listened to questions on Twitter and in person, I post 39 FAQ to answer the most common questions the team is getting.
- 21st March; 30th March; 18th April and 25th April: I sent these 4 newsletters to nearly 90 recipients, mostly local businesses; journalists; and politicians including local MP Charlie Elphicke.
- 31st March: Cameron Norris starts as 3Deal’s Content Developer and immediately helps accelerate the pace of the project.
- 6th April: Designer Charlie Lawrence finishes the backs and fronts of all four cards, and James orders them.
- 11th April: 3Deal commissions Brian Short to film Deal with his Quadcopter and GoPro camera in order to make an original promotional film. Cameron sets to work to create a great finished product.
- 30th April: After strenuous efforts and considerable unpaid time, Tony Hogben makes the new website live.
- 30th April: Cameron and Tony work to populate the business pages ahead of ‘The Big Reveal’.
What prompts so many people to work so hard, mostly unpaid and for uncertain reward, in order to create a scheme such as the Deal Card? It is my favourite human trait: enlightened altruism. It helps others but is also rewarding in ways that aren’t necessarily financial. We shall see where Phase 2 goes when we hand over to the team who will operate the card from now on.
Helping communities and businesses
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