Founded in 1866 as the Dix House, The Balsams was originally a small summer inn for Victorian travelers traversing the White Mountains. In 2011, after operating for over 100 years, the resort closed. Efforts to revive it failed and in 2014 Les Otten, former head of the American Skiing Company, stepped in to take over.
In 2017, Les and his team reached out to wedü with a very specific need. To secure the next step in government approval to restore the resort, the Balsams team needed to first secure financial commitments with deposits from buyers. Time was critical. The previous agency had not yielded the needed deposits, and now, there were only five months left on the clock.
We suggested a multi-faceted digital approach following a learn, iterate, launch workflow. This approach was comprised of four “sprints” to test audience and messaging strategies using layered data sets like income, geography, family, and lifestyle indicators. The plan for these sprints was to launch a sprint, learn quickly from the results, and apply the necessary adjustments to maximize the campaign results in future sprints.
To launch the campaign, we used Facebook and Google ads, starting with demographic data from registered property stakeholders. Targeting the top 10% income brackets across Concord, Boston, and Portland areas, we created four ad groups. These groups targeted luxury interests, outdoor enthusiasts, travelers, and resort-interested individuals, driving traffic to a specially designed landing page featuring video and ownership benefits. Throughout, we conducted A/B testing on ad variations within each group, adjusting budgets and ad selections based on performance.
Initially, conversions fell short, prompting changes. We optimized a new landing page which offered gated access to floor plans and owner interior design selections. Counter to client assumptions, we broadened age targeting, later refining based on ad performance. We expanded income-based targeting across affluent areas in New England, leveraging third-party tools for successful replication. Surprisingly, singles without children and niche groups like the LGBTQ community responded strongly. Notably, the existing Balsams’ deposit holders didn’t align with our campaign’s top performing target demographics, proving how critical it is to consistently test audiences, messages, channels, and escalation tactics.