Better Marketing

The Better Marketing Theme Group is chaired by Leigh Rengger, Chief Marketing Officer at Solent University. The core aims of the group are:

1. A Better Welcome
We will ensure that every visitor to Southampton has access to high-quality, real time, and relevant information on where to go and what to do before and during their visit to the city. Our marketing and communications plan will deliver a focal point for the collation and distribution of information. It will also consider an Ambassador scheme and a set of information points. Our significantly improved digital marketing strategy will include a more cohesive web presence. We will also review all access points such as car parks, the station, airport and the port entry to ensure they are welcoming to visitors, and promote the city centre.

2. A Bigger Welcome
We will raise Southampton’s profile as a place for business, culture and leisure both nationally and internationally. Southampton has lacked profile as a destination. We will work with destination marketing partners to make sure more people, particularly in the city and in the city’s 2 million-strong catchment area, are aware of, and excited by, what Southampton has to offer.

3. ‘Stay Local’
We will target our existing city centre audiences, encouraging them to spend more time in the City Centre, especially in the evenings. Southampton has 33,000 local employees, 20,000 city centre residents and seafarers who make over 400,000 visits annually. We will introduce a local incentive or loyalty scheme, as well as an ‘Alive after Five’ programme to support the evening and night time offer. We will work closely with the cruise forum, maritime businesses, crew, staff and customers, to make sure that seafarers feel at home in Southampton.

4. Conduit for Data & Innovation
We will act as a hub for the collection and sharing of key metrics on City Centre activity to help support business growth. We will gather and analyse new data sets – such as dwell time, spend, hotel occupancy and satisfaction levels as well as conducting regular qualitative and quantitative market research. We will feed this data back to city centre businesses, as well as using it to drive the case for the city centre in wider forums.

5. Coordinated and Better Events
We will enhance the current programme of City Centre events into a stronger and better marketed annual programme. Events will be higher quality and more strongly marketed both in and outside the city. We will identify new sponsors and look for new partnerships, for example with Culture Southampton. We will exploit the new facilities in the Cultural Quarter and Western Esplanade, adjacent to the City Walls.

For more detailed information about the projects of the Better Marketing Theme Group, please see the business plan.

Projects and Achievements:

June 2021 – SO card – on 1 June we launched a brand new discount and offers card to encourage local residents back into the city centre post-lockdown and help kickstart businesses when they reopen. The card is piloting until August in which we will review and look to extend. You can read more about the project here.

April 2021 – ‘We’ve Missed You SO Much’ campaign – On 12 April, we launched our reopening marketing campaign via our Visit Southampton consumer channels, reigniting the ‘We’ve Missed You SO Much – Welcome Back’ messaging. Like previous campaigns, we are continuing to target our primary audiences of local residents and workers, encouraging them to come back to the city centre and reminding them it’s a safe place to visit. The campaign will be promoted through advertising in physical/digital publications, organic/paid social media, regular newsletters as well as advertising on digital screens within the city centre and on the Red Funnel ferries. We would love for all of our partners, stakeholders and businesses to help amplify the reopening messaging and share our assets across your channels (web, social and email). You can download our partner toolkit here.

February 2021 – Photography service – In February we introduced a new photography service that offers consumer-facing levy payers a free half day session with a professional photographer. We understand how important it is, especially for reopening, that businesses a strong bank of professional photos to help market to their customers. If you would like to know more about the service please email Flo at

December 2020 – COVID-secure Carol singing in Bedford Place – By working with the council and local traders we were able to create a Covid-secure Christmas event in Bedford Place on 11 December 2020. A socially-distanced choir sang from the terrace of Revolution Bar and a sound system carried the carols all around Bedford Place and Carlton Place, allowing members of the public to spread throughout the area and join in in a socially distanced and safe way. Santa also made a guest appearance waving from the rooftops and coming down to greet the children from afar.

In time for the event, we installed additional festoon and canopy Christmas lighting in Bedford Place and Carlton Place for traders and visitors to enjoy this season.

December 2020 – ‘SO this is Christmas’ Facebook competition – We also worked with national retailers and smaller businesses across the city to bring a series of competitions that will ran on our Visit Southampton Facebook channel in the lead up to Christmas. A range of prizes were offered, and participating businesses were given promotion across our channels through paid posts.

December 2020 – ‘We’re SO ready for Christmas’ campaign –  Initially delayed due to the November lockdown, we launched our Visit Southampton ‘We’re SO ready for Christmas’ campaign in December which encouraged visitors to return to the city centre post-lockdown.
The campaign promoted things to do over the festive season including
late night shopping, food offerings and COVID-secure events. The campaign also featured key safety messaging and reassurance for visitors and residents.

As well as paid social media advertsing we partnered with Wave 105 and Newsquest. Overall the campaign reached 1.3million people through our own channels and partner channels.

December 2020 – Contribution to #MyGivingThanks project – We supported Southampton’s Mayflower 400 ‘Giving Thanks’ campaign by contributing five short films recently commissioned from City Eye. These ‘Heroes of Hope’ videos shine a spotlight on just a few of the many people who have made a positive contribution to the city in response
to the pandemic.

November 2020 – We Miss You SO Much campaign – In response to the national lockdown, we introduced the Visit Southampton We Miss You SO Much landing page, aimed at residents in the local and surrounding areas. The creative was adapted from our previous We’ve Missed You SO Much campaign and the page content spotlighted what was available during lockdown including click & collect services, essential retailers and their opening hours, takeaway/delivery services and a look ahead to Christmas.

November 2020 – Small Business Saturday – In November we were able to put a spotlight on the city by joining up with the Small Business Saturday UK team to celebrate the fantastic small businesses available in the city. Our Executive Director, Giles Semper spoke on the Facebook Live digital event about the range of small businesses and the importance of supporting them during this time as well as our work in response to the pandemic since March and Southampton’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2025.

August 2020 – We’ve Missed You SO Much: Welcome Back campaign – In partnership with the Council, we launched a new Visit Southampton campaign, ‘We’ve Missed You SO Much’, welcoming people back to the city.
The campaign targets those living in and around Hampshire who are familiar with Southampton and encourages them to return to the city, offering reassurance that it’s a safe place to visit and ‘still the same at heart’.

Promotion has included digital display and Facebook advertising, outdoor media, radio advertising, print ads and a leaflet door drop distribution, as well as the production of a campaign video. The campaign was part-funded by the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

March 2020 – Letter to our levy payers – In March we wrote to our levy payers offering them our support during the pandemic and stating which services would still be available to them, and how to reach us. These letters were hand delivered and sent digitally.

December 2019 – Southampton Christmas Time Trail – last year we created our first Christmas trail for Children and families to take part in over the festive period, encouraging them to explore the city and visit businesses along the way. Read more here

November 2019 – Christmas in Southampton – We launched our sparkling marketing campaign to promote Southampton’s Christmas offering to visitors, residents and tourists. This included: radio ads on Wave 105, outdoor digital signage, 50,000 printed Christmas maps delivered to residents in surrounding areas, a dedicated campaign page on our Visit Southampton website and a full B2C social media plan.

June 2019 – Visit Southampton Website Launched – One of the most standout projects GO! Southampton has accomplished is the launch of our new consumer website ‘Visit Southampton‘ with the support from Southampton City Council. The website aims to showcase the city and give visitors all the information they need for a trip to Southampton. It includes useful advice on everything from places to eat and shop to top tips for cruise passengers looking to explore the city’s history.

While the website’s primary aim is to arm tourists, cruise passengers and other visitors with information, GO! Southampton hopes the site will also inspire local people to explore the city more.

New Southampton website helps locals as well as visitors

April 2019 – SO What? Magazine Launch – GO! Southampton launched a brand new and lifestyle and tourism magazine, uncovering Southampton’s hidden gems and highlighting the city’s range of exciting experiences. This free magazine is aimed at not only visitors but more importantly residents of the city aiming to encourage them to explore  Southampton and what is on offer.

SO What?: Free magazine to launch in Southampton

April 2019  – Seaside In The Square Returns – After a very successful first year the ‘Urban Beach’ returns to Guildhall Square once more. Running from 19 July to 11 August the event is once again totally free and is jam packed full of activities, sports and music.

GO! Southampton announces return of Seaside in the Square 

April 2019 – Coffee Week Initiative Launched – Partnering with UK Coffee Week, GO! Southampton put together a week-long event in which coffee shops and local businesses took part offering a deal with a portion of the proceeds going to charity.

UK Coffee Week Comes To Southampton 

March 2019 – Easter Walking Trail – GO! Southampton launched a spring-themed walking trail to encourage families in Southampton to get outdoors and explore the city’s key locations and green spaces during the Easter holidays.

Spring into Southampton this Easter

November 2018 – Ultimate Advent – GO! Southampton launched the first ever Ultimate Advent campaign in the city, giving visitors and locals daily opportunities to win amazing prizes and businesses the chance to win new customers.

Ultimate Advent adds sparkle to Christmas in Southampton

September 2018 – Promoting the City – Go! Southampton commissioned Southampton communication agency, Carswell Gould, to undertake a PR project for the city.

The project involves highlighting Southampton in the regional, national and international press. The aim is to portray Southampton as a great place to visit, work (and study) and live. Some of the PR will be informed by Go! activity, but also the narrative for the city and its vibrant programme of events.

Get Involved in Promoting The City

September 2018 – Comedy Central Warm-up Event Announced – Southampton is gearing up for the biggest comedy festival the city has ever seen. Venues within the city’s BID (Business Improvement District) have pledged to lay on five days of comedy events in the lead up to Comedy Central Live! Stand up shows, comedy film nights and a drag-hosted quiz night are just some of the evenings planned in a bid to get the city warmed up for a weekend of comedy.

Southampton is Having a Laugh

A man walked into a bar… Southampton’s businesses lay on warm up for comedy festival

July 2018– New B2B Site Launched – Go! Southampton announced the launch of a freshly designed B2B website. The site contains information about the background of the BID, our goals, commitments, the most up-to-date news, upcoming events and meetings.

The New Go! Southampton Website is Live

July 2018 – Seaside in the Square Opens – Seaside in the Square officially opened to the public, offering 34 days of more than 100 free events and activities suitable for all the family, including an outdoor cinema, live music, beach soccer training, yoga, volleyball and much more.

Seaside in the Square

Crowds flock to Southampton’s Seaside in the Square

July 2018 – Foodie Fortnight Announced – GO! Southampton announced it’s 2-week restaurant promotion – Foodie Fortnight.  Participating outlets will come up with a £10 or £15 offer which will be published on the Foodie Fortnight website and the event will be heavily promoted on social and digital platforms as well as in print. The idea is to get new customers through levy payers doors – people who might never have heard of your restaurant or those who need just a little bit of encouragement to give it a go.

Foodie Fortnight

May 2018 – Summer Event Announced – GO! Southampton launched its summer event to reconnect the city centre with the sea by installing a 480m2 beach into Guildhall Square.  The “Seaside in the Square” will contain a full-size beach volleyball court that will be used for a variety of sports, a stage for live music and a bar.  A full programme of free events, from outdoor cinema to beach yoga and sand art will run from 20 July to 22 August.

Seaside in the Square

June 2018 – Comedy Central Live Announced – GO! Southampton announced Comedy Central Live – a festival which is the first of its kind in the UK taking place exclusively in Southampton. It is the direct result of work by the team at GO! Southampton and seeks both to raise the profile of the city as an events destination, and to bring new business to city centre shops, bars, restaurants and other attractions.

GO! Southampton Succeeds in Bringing Comedy Central to the City

Comedy Central Live

May 2018 – LoyalFree – Go Southampton launched a partnership with LoyalFree – the multi-award-winning digital app for local businesses. Levy payers can advertise their business, increase sales and reward their best customers with discounts and digital loyalty schemes.

Loyalty App For Southampton!

Loyalty App Gains Momentum

April 2018 – ABP Marathon – On the 22nd of April 2018, the ABP Southampton Marathon returned 4th year, bigger and better than ever and GO! Southampton supported the event. The BID organised a medal discount scheme offered to finishers. The BID will also took part in the event itself, providing a pop-up tourist information stand on the day.

March 2018 – Better Welcome – GO! Southampton worked on several projects to increase the visitor welcome to Southampton. The focus of this was to work with partners to produce new city maps, increase the print-run of the Southampton Pocket Guide and investigate tourist information stand options.

February 2018  – Studio 144 Launch – The celebrations marking the opening of the long-awaited Studio 144 went off with a bang on 16.02.18, thanks in part to the support given by GO! Southampton. Providing a large screen that was positioned in Guildhall Square giving viewers details about the celebrations and showing a 1 minute “snapshot” film about the different elements of Southampton’s exciting Cultural Quarter (also commissioned by the BID).  In addition to the screen and the film, GO! Southampton was able to support the opening weekend by sponsoring the arrival of a replica spitfire to the Square. Children taking part in the Half Term Spitfire Trail (also commissioned by the BID) were delighted to see a real spitfire in addition to the pictures they had spotted in windows around the Cultural Quarter.

GO! Southampton Supports Studio 144 Launch

February 2018 – Pop-up Tourist Information Stand – The BID arranged for SEE Southampton to man the branded pop-up tourist information stand throughout the half-term week. The stand was ideally situated on Above Bar Street outside the main Westquay entrance and was a great success with SEE Southampton reporting great numbers on interaction and interest, speaking to roughly 100 people per day.

November 2017 – Winning Winter Windows – GO! Southampton launched a Christmas window competition in the independent shopping areas of Bedford Place, London Road and East Street. Over 35 businesses took part in the competition, and the public were asked to vote for their favourite window. The idea of the competition was to shine a spotlight on the lesser known, independent areas of the city which boast an incredibly diverse offering of shops and services.

Winning Winter Windows

Winners Announced in Christmas Window Competition

November 2017 – Christmas Marketing Campaign Launched – The Christmas advertising campaign for Southampton was launched by GO! Southampton, reminding people that whatever they want from a city at Christmas, Southampton has got it.  There were radio ads, outdoor & online banners and posters and a dedicated webpage on Discover Southampton.

Go! Southampton Adds Extra Sparkle

October 2017 – Attitudinal Research – Commissioned FSP to conduct attitudinal research in the city centre.

September 17 – Boat Show Stand – Secured a promotional opportunity at Southampton Boat show, giving the city tourist information representation to all visitors.  Used a large digital arch at the entrance of the show to promote all the elements of Southampton’s offer from eating out to shopping and culture.

Other Links:

Mid-term Review

GO! Southampton Year 4 Business Plan

GO! Southampton Year 3 Business Plan 

GO! Southampton Year 2 Business Plan 

Greater City Centre Experience

Stronger Business