Marketing an international program in the U.S.
I am involved in several business, trade and networking groups here in Denver. They vary from government groups to alumni associations to charity organizations. I am active in these groups for a variety of reasons, but they ultimately help me acquire business for my marketing and advertising agency. One of the groups that is close to my heart is the Irish Network Colorado (INCO). We are a group that “connects Irish expatriates, Irish-Americans and friends of Ireland. Our mission is to provide a forum for social, business, and professional networking for our members and to strengthen economic, social, and cultural ties between Irish and American businesses in Colorado and more broadly between the U.S. and Ireland.” By being involved, I get the privilege of meeting some interesting and well respected business people. This past week was no different when Uptown Denver had a special taste of Northern Ireland. During the INCO’s Discovery Lunch program, this month held at renowned Uptown favorite, Strings Restaurant, Northern Irishmen Caoimhin Mac Giolla Mhin and Dr. Frank Costello spoke to the INCO crowd about a topic close to their hearts – linguistics and the Irish language. An Ciste Infheistiochta Gaeilge is a fund set up to help promote and expand the Irish language in the province of Ulster and all of Northern Ireland. Mr. Mac Giolla Mhin and Dr. Costello were visiting Denver on the last leg of their American promotional tour after stopovers in New York, Boston and Washington, DC.
The ultimate goal of Ciste is to establish the physical infrastructure in Northern Ireland communities to support the advancement of the Irish language. They have been granted a capital investment fund of £8 million from the British government and continue to look for donations from private parties, corporations or other organizations. It is a very challenging task, but the passion and drive shown by Mr. Mac Giolla Mhin and Dr. Costello was evident during the duration of their presentation dispelling any doubts. Northern Ireland ex-pats in the audience really fed off of Mr. Mac Giolla Mhin’s enthusiasm engaging him with a wide range of questions and anecdotes. It was obvious these attendees fully supported Ciste’s mission and were happy to see government support of the Irish language, which is so crucial to the Irish identity.
I spoke with Mr Mac Giolla Mhin about some of the marketing, branding and strategic challenges he has been facing in promoting the program here in the United States. He said that the biggest challenge was “explaining the growth of the Irish language in the North of Ireland to Irish Americans and its importance.” The strategy Ciste has implemented is a grass roots campaign as well as more traditional marketing tactics. Dr. Costello and Mr. Mac Giolla Mhin are reaching out on a personal level to Irish communities to create awareness of the program and appeal to their Irishness, while executing online, print and direct mail tactics as well. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any evidence of Ciste implementing a search engine optimization or social media strategy, but I am sure it is on their radar. I do commend them for implementing a tactic that many companies today overlook; personal and individual contact with potential customers and supporters. This marketing and advertising strategy brings a humanization to the initiative showing there are real, authentic people behind the business who are genuinely invested in it.
It was a great program by the INCO group with an interesting topic and really passionate speakers.
Mr. Mac Giolla Mhin left me with a great thought.
“Bíonn anam úr agat le gach teanga a labhraíonn tú. Muna bhfuil ach teanga amháin agat, ní bhíonn ach an t-aon saol agat.”
“You live a new life for every new language you speak. If you know only one language, you only live once.”
Adam O’Leary, President