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[Case Study] The marketing plan that delivered 20 000 extra customers for SAA Museum

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    Introduction and executive summary

    South African Airways Museum needed the help of Wild Pursuit Online Marketing to build a new website and provide Google Ads services between March and August 2023. But what they also needed was for us to write a marketing plan that would unlock their marketing strategy.

    In this applied marketing plan you will see real numbers and the seldom shared “marketing details and planning” behind the solution.

    After building a new high performance website and 6 months of running Google Ads to the new website, Wild Pursuit were able to:

    • Reposition the brand
    • More than double the museum’s turn-over (227% growth).
    • Grow the number of Museum visitors from 12 954 to 32 737. (Compared to same period in 2022)
    • Deliver a Return on Investment (ROI) of 10.4 times the marketing cost.

    Wild Pursuit were able to achieve this with what would amount to a marketing budget of less than R200k per year.

    This is the indepth story of how it was achieved through cunning marketing strategy.

    *** Don’t miss the “Lessons for other marketer’s section” at the end.

    Part A: Marketing Planning and Thinking

    The South African Airways Museum (SAAMS) is a “working” non-military aviation museum run by enthusiastic volunteers. The museum has wide appeal and is very affordable (R50 per adult and R30 per child in 2023). School age children are the main visitors.

    target audience
    Customer’s problem:

    They were looking for a company to build a new website for them, as they were worried about their survival. They wanted to appear professional when approaching potential benefactors for large donations.

    They had an archaic website with hundreds of pages. They relied on PR, word of mouth and public events for ticket sales. Although located at Rand Airport, they had little passing traffic. 

    If someone hadn’t told you about it, you might never know it existed. The website was their only “advertising” tool. It had no apparent, intentional, positioning.

    In short, they had insufficient brand awareness to sustain ticket sales.

    Opportunity identification:
    1. We could help them increase their ticket sales and use their existing operating model to produce more income through strong marketing.
    2. The goal of the new website should shift from “simply looking good for benefactor” to “being able to convert website visitors into museum visitors”.
    3. The website needed more than “organic website traffic”- it needed targeted Google Ads to reach new audiences.
    To do this, we would need to leverage the insights we uncovered about their audience:
    1. People love to take “show off” photos.
    2. People love boarding a real Boeing 747
    3. People like touching the airplane wheels– something you can’t do at the airport
    4. People are curious about the “black box”
    5. People will increase the group size in order to qualify for a group discount
    6. People are proud of the 1994 Rugby World Cup, and are interested to tour the plane that flew over the Springboks
    7. School tour organisers need to have an educational and appealing destination
    8. People need to be inspired into aviation careers
    9. People have a low understanding of aviation and limited desire to read a lot.
    marketing goals
    Competitive landscape:
    1. Their direct competitors have poor websites, and so we could surprise people with a great online experience.
    2. Their indirect competitors, like trampoline parks, have reasonable websites.
    3. While we need to outshine competitors, we need to be mindful of not “over selling” the museum.
    Limited internal capabilities and resources

    The client did not have capacity to build a high performance website, nor the expertise to do effective Google Ads.

    The client was willing to spend R8 000 on a new website but we needed R40 000 for the website and R10  000 per month for Google Ads. We explained that we could not deliver Return on Investment with a budget of only R8 000 and that they also needed Google Ads to source an audience. If they could find the money – our solution would be able to pay for itself – and it did.

    The change in thinking that unlocked the solution

    Instead of them having a nice shiny website as a tool to aim in asking for donations, we could rather help the museum earn their needed revenue by increasing ticket sales.

    We would do this by modernising their marketing and better alignment with audience expectations.

    Defining the marketing opportunity:

    Use digital marketing to show ads to three primary target markets.

    • This would deliver 1 200 prospects per month to a purpose build website and result in 8 planning a visit.
    • The estimated annual customer revenue of these would produce an average of R4 000 each.
    • This would yield an estimated R31 200 per month off a Google Ads cost of R10 000 per month. (Keep reading to see what we actually delivered in the end.)

    Keep reading to see what we actually delivered in the end.

    A change was needed to the brand positioning

    Evolve the brand from “an aviation enthusiast’s world of heritage”, to rather position the brand as “an appealing destination for school age children to learn and explore aviation”.

    Goals for segmentation and targeting of audience

    We need to build customer journeys for these personas on the website and Google Ads:

    1. Persona A: School tour organiser for school age children
    2. Persona B: Family with school age children
    3. Persona C: Organiser of an event
    SMART Strategy objectives
    1. Minimum goal for March to August 2023: By spending R10 000 per month on a Google Ads campaign, increase turnover by greater than R10 000 per month, when compared to same period in 2022.
    2. Ideal goal for March to August 2023: increase turnover by greater than R70 000, when compared to same 6 months last year. This includes a quarter of the cost of the website going into this ROI requirement.
    Relevant goals and KPI’s to define success
    1. Website: Design a 45 to 90 second user experience.
    2. Website: Write the wording for the reading ability of a 12-15 year old.
    3. Google Ads: Deliver an average cost per click of R5
    4. Google Ads: Deliver an average conversion rate of 1%
    5. Google Ads: Deliver 12 conversions per month
    Simplified version of the expected customer journey
    Customer journey is similar for all three personas:
    1. Starts with Google Search ->, then clicks Google advert, -> then lands on website, -> browses website and -> decides to go to the museum.

    For this customer journey to be successful it would need to be unpinned with strong value proposition.

    Value propositions identified
    1. A unique exhibit: you can board South Africa’s famous Boeing 747 that flew over the Rugby World Cup final in 1995.
    2. A free guided tour of the museum
    3. Value Propositions for each persona:
      1. Persona A) School tours – solve for something educational and inspiring
      2. Persona B) Family outing – solve for boredom, even if you don’t know anything about aviation
      3. Persona C) Venue hire – solve for unique venue and cool photos.
    Sequencing and integration
    1. The Google Ads campaign messages and keyword triggers must be integrated with the website wording so that the message has an integrated golden thread.
    2. The website pages must support the segmented Google Ads traffic and lead people to convert into an email enquiry.
    3. This enquiry data must then be integrated into the Google Ads optimisation systems to close the data loop for optimisation of future clicks.

    Part B: Implementation of the Marketing plan

    To get people excited about a museum…is tricky…

    Think “That’s boring Mom… why would I want to walk around that place …” We needed to ignite imaginations, court their curiosity.

    Families in Joburg need to find things to do to entertain children. Gone are the days of riding bikes in the streets.

    Communication Activities

    We wrote 13 good quality text based Google Adverts.

    On the Google Search Ads network these versions get A/B tested to discover the best possible wording. The system always works best if it starts off with very good wording. Here is an example of one advert: “Jet fuel for inquisitive minds. Step aboard and see inside a real aircraft. Find out more”

    All communication is targeted to the website, as it is where we have the most space to influence their decision.


    The tone is friendly, fun and appealing. The voice is intentionally “written the way we speak to each other”.

    Shifting brand positioning

    The old brand positioning appealed to aviation enthusiasts. Here is an example: “Welcome to The South African Airways Museum Society – established in 1986. Preserving South Africa’s Civil Aviation Heritage” … This would not appeal to a typical modern family… we needed to fix it.

    It was a strategic objective to expand their total addressable market from “enthusiasts only” to “every family” by repositioning. 

    To unlock the new positioning, we took the persona’s pain point and linked it to a specific value proposition from audience insights to define the goal of the copywriting. Here are some examples of this:

    Persona A) School tours PAGE:  solve for educational and exciting
    Goal of copy: ignite young people’s imaginations
    Main page heading: Jet fuel for young minds. – Step aboard and see inside a real aircraft

    Persona B) Family outing PAGE – solve for boredom and invite
    Goal of copy: spark excitement through curiosity
    Main page heading: Where are we going today – Get An Insider View Into Aviation

    Persona C) Venue hire PAGE – solve for unique venue creates a memorable moment.
    Goal of copy: seed the idea of an airplane themed event
    Main page heading: All aboard for an aviation experience – Take memorable pictures

    Hop across to visit their new website as part of experiencing this case study. Here it is  https://saamuseum.co.za/

    See how each page has an associated “offer”. This is crafted so that people can “get something” by taking the call to action.

    Channel selection and planning

    How would we find exposure for the brand at a low price and translate that exposure into ticket sales?

    We used Google Ads because of its high ROI potential – a mixture of “high intent” Search ads and “wide reach” Display ads.

    This is how we split the limited budget by persona:

    1. School tours – 25%
    2. Venue hire – 25%
    3. Family -50%

    We met our original objectives and massively exceeded our ROI goals by understanding how all the parts of a marketing and communication plan fit together.

    Part C: The marketing results as they are tied to the marketing goals

    We repositioned the brand from aviation enthusiasts only, to school age children.

    We built customer journeys for our segmented personas on the new website and in Google Ads.

    The shift in brand positioning has “permanently” increased their total addressable market into the future. All their marketing now pivots around the website which is:

    1. built in a measurable way
    2. a highly scalable asset

    Marketing Goals:

    Google Ads:
    1. GOAL: Deliver an average cost per click of R5. RESULT: R2.53 – Exceeded Goal
    2. GOAL: Deliver an average conversion rate of 1%. RESULT: 1.56% – Exceeded Goal
    3. GOAL: Deliver 12 conversions per month. RESULT: 42 conversions – Exceeded Goal
    1. GOAL: Design a 45 to 90 second user experience. RESULT: 73 second average user experience – Achieved Goal
    2. GOAL: Write copy for the reading ability of a 12-15 year old. RESULT: 13 – 15 year old readability score – Achieved Goal
    Company Growth Goals:
    1. Minimum goal for March to August 2023: By spending R10 000 per month on a Google Ads campaign, increase turnover by greater than R10 000 per month, when compared to same period in 2022.

    RESULT: Increased turnover of R121 314 per month. (ROI of 12.1X) – Exceeded Goal

    1. Ideal goal for March to August 2023: increase turnover by greater than R70 000, when compared to same 6 months last year. This includes a quarter of the cost of the website into this ROI requirement.

    RESULT: Increased turnover by R727 884 over 6 months. (ROI of 10.4X) – Exceeded Goal

    Additional Performance Insights

    • The total cost of marketing would work out to less than R200 000 per year for website and ads
    • We grew the number of tickets sold from 12 954 (March – August 2022) to 32 737 for 6 months (March – August 2023)
    • We more than doubled their turnover (227%)

    Part D: Conclusions

    We didn’t quote the client on what they asked for, instead we devised a solution that would cost 20 times their initial budget, BUT delivered a return on investment of 10.4X.

    Lessons for other marketers:

    1. A low cost project like this, cannot be done with a thousand approvals. We aimed for a get-it-right-first-time build. This is sometimes a bumpy flight – and in this case, it was. As a result we did not hit the initial website go-live date. This was not a catastrophe.
    2. A new website on its own will not bring in more revenue. “You need the synergy of a high performance website with high performance Google Ads, built to work together.” (It should be developed by Wild Pursuit 😊)
    3. The museum’s low ticket-price is an easy sell, but the resulting revenue is hence also low. We created a group discount to incentivise bigger purchases a s mechanism to combat this.
    4. This was not a story about donating time to help a not-for-profit. In fact, that is where so much marketing goes wrong- don’t buy cheap. SAA Museum had the bravery to pay a fair rate for good work. It’s okay to “pay what feels like a lot” if the solution can deliver the results. This case study proves it.

    We enjoyed working on this project because it shows how we are not afraid to tweak or change any variables in the marketing mix.

    At Wild Pursuit we don’t just have “Wild” ideas. We have a marketing communication playbook that connects the power of wild ideas to the pursuit of marketing objectives.

    Through our approach to solving marketing challenges we change the lives of the people who turn to us to help their organisations survive and thrive.

    To John Austin-Williams, Peter Boshoff and the rest of the men and women who volunteer and run the SAA Museum, thank you for allowing us the space to do good marketing and make a difference.

    Please feel free to share this with people who might find it helpful.

    Here is the link to this article: https://wildpursuit.co.za/2023/11/10/marketing-plan-case-study/

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