Heartland Payment Systems Inc. could have chosen any town in the United States for its “city immersion campaign” marketing push. So, why did it pick Lincoln, Neb.?

Well, the choice makes perfect sense based on the Princeton, N.J.-based processor’s criteria.

Heartland wanted a market with strong growth potential, and Lincoln fit that criterion because the company’s sales are not as strong there as in some other places, says Moriah Murphy, Heartland director of marketing.

Because part of the campaign centers on hiring salespeople, the processor wanted a city with a well-educated populace, Murphy notes. Twenty-five percent of adult Lincoln residents have at least a bachelor’s degree compared with a national average of 18%, according to published reports.

Lincoln has lots of independently owned businesses, too, which creates a healthy market for transaction processing, Murphy says. The businesses there include many with multiple local outlets, she says, providing the example of the five daVinci Italian restaurants.

The city, where the U.S. Census Bureau counted 258,379 residents in 2010, also has plenty of potential business in Heartland niche specialties that include elementary schools, high schools, colleges and universities, and governmental bodies, she notes.

“Lincoln fit all of those criteria, and it’s a relatively isolated media market so we can see what’s working,” Murphy says.

Lincoln already has what Heartland considers a “good infrastructure” of company employees, including a territory sales manager, two salespeople and one support person, she says.

The No. 1 goal of the “city immersion campaign” is building brand awareness among the city’s merchants, Murphy maintains. That makes sense because Heartland handles all of its contacts with merchants through the company’s approximately 1,000 salespeople.

To achieve that awareness, Heartland is advertising on local television, radio, print and billboards, Murphy says. The company decided against advertising on Lincoln’s public transit because of the cost and the look of the ads.

The print ads feature testimonials from local Heartland customers, and all of the ads urge the public to “get to know Heartland,” Murphy says.

Although Murphy declines to say how much Heartland is investing in the campaign, she mentions that the company negotiated sharply enough to stretch the push from its original schedule of six weeks to as long as eight to nine weeks. It began July 22.

The Lincoln project is the second of Heartland’s immersion campaigns, Murphy says. The first ran in her hometown of Tallahassee, Fla., which has demographic similarities to Lincoln, she notes.

Besides exposure to merchants, the Tallahassee campaign resulted in hiring three salespeople in that market and three based in other areas who happened to see the push, Murphy says. Heartland is not looking to hire a specific number of salespeople in the Lincoln effort.

Heartland has not announced any additional immersions, but the company is discussing the possibility, Murphy says.


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