Why the best marketing strategies and creative start with solid research


The other day as I was driving past River’s Edge Convention Center, formerly the St. Cloud Civic Center, I realized it’s been just over a year since its grand opening. With its one-year anniversary in the books, I thought I’d share some of the work we did to help form what is now a premier gathering place for all of Minnesota.

Expanding and rebranding St. Cloud Civic Center

To help St. Cloud Civic Center become River’s Edge Convention Center, Flint Group’s St Cloud office, HatlingFlint, developed a new brand identity and transition plan. Our team team designed the Center’s entire marketing package, from its website, letterhead and business cards to print ads, a brochure and direct mail “brownies” to advertise its grand opening event.

Business cards:

River's Edge business cards

Print ads:Ad_River's Edge Convention Center

Ad2_River's Edge Convention Center

Brochure cover:

brochure_River's Edge Convention Center

Direct mail:

brownie tag_River's Edge Convention Center

Discovering critical insight

This story actually begins long before the transition strategy and creative work. In fact, when we started working with River’s Edge, the plan to expand was just that – a plan, or proposal.

You see, the Center had made several attempts at expansion, but legislators consistently denied funding. Our challenge was to figure out why these state leaders were rejecting the plan, and ultimately, get them on board.

Flint’s research team discovered that legislators had denied bonding requests because they thought the public was disinterested in anything civic center-related. However, they were basing these assumptions on an unrelated civic center proposal voters rejected more than a decade earlier.

It turns out the public was interested.

Understanding that people, when presented with accurate information, supported the current project, we started a grassroots education campaign to rally the chamber, local businesses and legislators.

Just months later, we had funding secured and a construction team on site.

With the $22 million expansion underway, we used the marketing materials mentioned above to position the facility as a high-caliber, multipurpose facility that Central Minnesota businesses, organizations and residents are proud to tout and use.


Today, the River’s Edge Convention Center includes 180,000 square feet of space, 19 meeting rooms, 60,000 square feet of exhibit space and a 16,000-square-foot ballroom.

With a record number of attendees at numerous events and several premier events booked, including the 2012 Minnesota Republican State Convention, the center is already experiencing the greater economic impact that the expanded facility will bring.

Ericka Olin

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