If you plan to start a career in the marketing department of a shopping mall there are many specific things you need to take into consideration. The position is more demanding and different than being a marketing manager for one or more specific brands in any other industry.
Herein I will share some of my professional experiences as a Marketing Manager in one of the biggest shopping malls in Bulgaria – Sofia Ring Mall in the period of its opening.
The concept of Sofia Ring Mall focuses on the entertainment and leisure spaces. It is accomplished thanks to factors such as the architecture of the complex and its location between the mountains and the city. There are not so many shopping centres in the country that offer its visitors such large open spaces, wide balconies with mountain views, plenty of natural light inside and lawns extending over 28,000 sq. m. Visitors could combine shopping and attractions in the mall with a walk to Vitosha mountain because of the proximity to the ski lift.
The total gross leasable area of the shopping complex, including the IKEA store, which is already operating, totals 100,000 sq. m, car parks for visitors with a total area of 63,000 square meters and a total of 3,500 parking spaces with IKEA, as well as VIP parking. The investment in Sofia Ring Mall exceeds 130 million EUR. The investors in the project are Fourlis Group – one of the leading groups of companies not only in Greece and Cyprus, but on the Balkans providing quality durable goods and Danaos Group, which operates in sectors such as shipping, information technology, construction, banking and financial services and is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). As of today there are 200 tenants in Sofia Ring Mall and more than 400 brands.
I started as a Marketing Manager of Sofia Ring Mall in the beginning of September 2014, just two months before the grand opening of the shopping centre by applying to a job advertising. During my career I have organised numerous events and campaigns, but the intense work and the whole 360 organization for the promotion and the opening of the shopping centre in just 66 days can not be compared with any other experience before and is experience not everybody can have. Think for example how long does it take for a wedding agent to organize a normal wedding. 4-6 months approximately. With enormous enthusiasm, sleepless nights and long working weekends we managed to organize a whole shopping mall opening for less than this time. Let me highlight the main topics I will concentrate in more details later:
- CI of the new Shopping Mall
- Marketing team and responsibilities
- Creative Brief
- Advertising campaigns
- TV campaign
- Company web site
- Social media
- Tenant event and relations; VIP event
- Press conference
- Events in the first 4 days
- Pitch for new agencies
- Mall branding and decorations
- Corporate Identity
SRM had its logo and corporate colors in place, designed by the main architect. The challenge for the creative agency was to create a CI identity in order to have a consistent communication in all creative formats. This means where the logo should be positioned, its size and relations with the other elements in the CI, setting the corporate fonts for print and the web site, etc. It is really important for any start up brand to establish a distinctive Corporate Identity for all creative formats.
In my first two weeks I organized a professional photo shoot of the shopping centre . We needed the photos to include them in the press kit for the press conference. It was a challenge, because there were finishing works going on outside and the photographer had to take the photos not too early and not too late to have them nice and just in time. We were lucky to have the green grass outside, that was a nice accent in the photos.
2. Marketing team
The most important of all. The people in your team. These young and enthusiastic people that also gave their energy, creativity and passion to have the successful opening of the shopping centre just in time.
Once I started working on the SRM project my role was to start looking for the marketing specialists and establish the team as soon as possible. First I created the job descriptions for the staff based on the strategic plan for the development of the shopping centre, then I posted them on a popular job site and started to review the candidates on a daily basis. The selection process and interviews were going on simultaneously with the whole organization of the campaigns and events, and the new staff started work just a little before the grand opening of the shopping centre. This was stressful but we managed it. The continuous training of the staff on the job and the split of the responsibilities on the opening were also part of my duties.
3. Creative Brief
Sending a proper and detailed creative brief to the agencies is really vital for the success of any campaign. All agencies – creative, digital, PR, event were briefed on the shopping mall plans, positioning, etc. The timeframe was tight but we had really good strategies and proposals from their side even in the short timeframe given.
4. Advertising campaigns
We had few creative ideas to select from, as well as few slogans. We really liked “Your Mall. Your Day.” The creatives were executed under my supervision , as well as the other management team and we planned the 360 campaign – print, OOH, radio, social media, banner campaigns, PR campaign and events. Here are some of the creative visuals, if you have not seen them.
These visuals were published on the different advertising formats – print, OOH, bus branding, mall branding, taxi branding, as well as the special banners formats.
5. TV campaigns
Preparing all the TV commercials with the advertising agency and the whole team was exciting. Together we selected all the casts, clothes, music, locations, headlines, etc. Most of the scenes of course were shot in the shopping centre before the opening. The TV campaign was live just before the opening of the shopping centre. After many long working days and evenings, tight deadlines when we had to approve all creative at the same time having meeting after meeting, we successfully launched the campaign just as planned. The TVC were accepted extremely well by the public. Actually all our friends, family and people we asked later in the shopping mall expressed their positive attitude towards the advertising campaign and specially the TVCs. We uploaded all of them on the SRM You Tube channel. It was so funny when my small kids (1 and 2 at that time) heard the music and were running to the TV to see the advertising knowing it by heart already. This is what I call a brand recognition. Here they are:
PR of course was a vital part of the 360 degree communication campaign and the PR agency achieved a great coverage for the opening period – in different print media, as well as online portals and forums. During the period while the creative campaign was under development by the creative agency, the PR agency had the task to create the buzz and the word of mouth for the coming opening of the mall, of course with the beautiful images of the interior and exterior.
The budget was split in different media including OOH, TV, print, radio, online banners. We booked the media space through one of the biggest media agencies in Bulgaria, which professionally advised us how to receive the most effective coverage with the given budget. And we did it – we had over 400, 000 people for the first days of the opening. We had very good brand recognition and awareness for a new shopping centre in the capital during its opening period.
To be continued…
Visitors in the first 4 days: 400,000
Visitors Gala event: 1,200
Number of shops/tenants in SRM: more than 150
Events for the first 4 days of the opening: more than 20
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