Outside the box, inside the lines: Coloring book marketing concept captures Rowan County folks
Published 12:01 am Sunday, February 5, 2023
SALISBURY — Successful marketing campaigns can stand out for humor and emotionality, but an underlying uniqueness can go a long way.
Numerous business owners around Salisbury and Rowan County participated in an unconventional marketing strategy with Coloring My Town. The organization creates coloring books featuring caricatures of figures from around the community.
When Fullers Market owner Justin Wells learned about the coloring book concept, he was immediately intrigued.
“We get a lot of the same advertising things coming through the door,” Wells said. “Nothing sounds intriguing, but we saw this come through, and it looked so different. We thought, let’s try that one. It’s different from a regular advertisement or an ad on a menu at the restaurant. You may look at those, but do they stick with you?”
Tara Wallace , Coloring My Town Southeast owner and regional sales director, explained that they print more than 11,000 copies of the coloring book and distribute them throughout the school system.
“They are distributed to every student kindergarten through fifth grade in Rowan County,” Wallace said. “We give them teachers’ guides, which have ways to utilize the books in their classroom to teach all about their community. When they are done, we have the children take the books home and enjoy them with their families.
“It’s just a fun way to bring back that community pride and involve everyone in Salisbury and Rowan County, where there are a lot of different communities that we aim to bridge together.”
The books feature pages with city officials, business leaders, and academic figures, along with facts and history.
While Wallace oversees the project from start to finish, she said delivery day takes the cake.
“The first day I go in to meet with the school or business, they have no idea why I am there,” Wallace said. “Delivery day is a whole other story. That is when I come in, and we see the smiles. Everyone loves seeing themselves in the book. We have built these relationships with them and it is so much fun to see their reaction and thank them in person for being a part of these books.”
Designing each page takes time, and sometimes they have to go back to the drawing board.
“We take a lot of cues from the business,” Wallace said. “We ask them what they would like their business represented in there. Sometimes, if I am there, I take pictures. I see some things. We talk about the business. Sometimes, they say I don’t have a clue, so my art team will come up with ideas. We’ll send a proof to them.”
Wallace explained that there is one overarching goal with each page.
“We make it personal,” Wallace said. “Every single page on there has a personal aspect on there, whether it is about a community event, principal, or whatever it might be.”
Fun Factory owner Marianna Riley Jarrett loved the idea as soon as she heard about it.
“With my new business, I wanted to do more marketing and promoting,” Jarrett said. “This fits the perfect demographic for our businesses.”
Part of the organization’s mission is to get the coloring books into the hands of kindergarten through fifth graders in area schools.
“I think it is such an interesting and cool concept,” Jarrett said. “I absolutely loved having the custom design of the facility and the personal touch with me and my kids (Waylon and Wyatt).”
Jarrett also owns Spotlight Dance Academy. She took out pages for both of the businesses.
For the owner of Sweet Meadow Cafe, Heather Hopkins-Teeter, the concept was too tough to pass up.
“My advertising budget is not very big, so I tend to keep it grassroots. But this was such an unusual and unique way to do things,” Hopkins-Teeter said. “Incorporating it into the schools was just phenomenal, so I did find the extra money to put into this because it was such a unique project.”
Hopkins-Teeter’s daughter is in the fourth grade at Overton Elementary. The cafe owner said she was excited to hear about her daughter’s reaction to receiving a coloring book with her mom in it.
Seeing a Coloring Your Town version from his hometown of Statesville appealed to Backcountry & Beyond owner Jeff Moose.
“I saw a lot of local businesses there that I knew and had a lot of experience with,” Moose said.
Translating that to Salisbury seemed like a great plan to the outdoor goods business owner.
“Honestly, we just love being a part of the community,” Moose said.