Retail Rescue: Be Brilliant! Marketing Revives A Local Shopping Landmark

Client: Gulf Coast Town Center / McKinley, Inc. | Industry: Retail
Our Work: Marketing Strategy, Social Media Management, Graphic Design, Advertising


The peak holiday shopping season was only weeks away when McKinley, Inc. took over the management of Gulf Coast Town Center (GCTC) mall in late 2015 and called on the Be Brilliant!™ Marketing Team for help. The need for marketing was clear and urgent with only 14 days to go until the Black Friday shopping weekend.

Under the previous owner, GCTC had been pushed into foreclosure and a mood of uncertainty surrounded the property amid erroneous reports of the mall's closure. With virtually no marketing for the property during the previous two years, we had to work quickly to turn things around to help reassure tenants, customers, and the community that the mall was still a thriving destination for young, local families, shoppers, and tourists.

Overcoming Challenges

According to Debra Irving, Assistant Director of Operations at McKinley, "We hired Brilliant Lens LLC to help us revitalize marketing for GCTC during the property’s receivership and foreclosure proceedings." She adds that during this period, there were some significant challenges to overcome, including: 

  • Budget delays due to change of ownership.
  • Restrictions on what could be communicated to the public.
  • Limited on-site staff resources and personnel changes.

"Our team set forth with a new marketing plan focused on reviving Gulf Coast Town Center and creating excitement that would bring holiday shoppers to the mall," says Bryon McCartney, Managing Partner & Chief Idea Guy at Brilliant Lens. 

Marketing Rebuild for A Retail Rebound

"Despite the challenges, the Be Brilliant! team was, in fact, BRILLIANT!" says Debra. "Bryon, Kellie, and their team took the reigns and completely rebuilt the marketing strategy for the property, implementing a comprehensive social media plan, organizing events, managing and responding to online reviews and inquiries, designing new brochures and marketing materials, and using cost-effective, high-impact online marketing and advertising to bring shoppers back to the mall."

The marketing strategy had a huge impact for GCTC, Debra explains, "Through their efforts, the team helped improve public perception of the property and increased measurable foot traffic, even through the slower, out-of-season months." 

Strategic Social Media Scores Big

Social media was put at the core of the marketing plan because it provided the most cost-effective and flexible opportunities to reach across the wide range of audiences, as well as involve and support the mall tenants.

"One important point in the strategy was to rebuild and reinforce a positive presence among the local community, while not ignoring the seasonal population," says Bryon McCartney. "Our research showed us the GCTC mall is the most family-friendly mall for local shoppers and offers a mix of retail, dining, and entertainment options that really appeal to local families and younger adult men and women. We also wanted to build upon the solid position the mall enjoys with seasonal tourists and snowbird residents."

Six months to turn-around

In six months of this focused marketing program, the mall saw more than 2.5 million interactions on social media, eclipsing the total number of search and website interactions for the several past years. While online activity was great, more importantly, it helped bring people to the mall. Organizing and promoting family-focused events during the winter season created a lot of excitement and brought in local families and tourists alike.  

The marketing plan also included proactive monitoring and responding to customer reviews on Facebook, Google, Trip Advisor, and Yelp. "It was an important element of the plan to engage in conversations," says Bryon. "We took the time to say 'Thank You' to people who took the time to share their opinions, and helped address and resolve problems expressed by others."

According to Debra, "The new marketing efforts also lead to the property being recognized with a 2016 Certificate of Excellence from Trip Advisor, ranking #19 out of the top 100 attractions in Southwest Florida."

Debra concludes, "If I had to do it all over, I would hire them again, in a heartbeat!”

“The Be Brilliant! team was, in fact, Brilliant...using cost-effective, high-impact online marketing and advertising to bring shoppers back.
— Debra Irving, McKinley, Inc.


  • Strategic Digital Marketing Plan
  • Social Media Account & Advertising Campaign Management
  • Graphic Design, Visual Media & Print Production
  • Google Adwords Campaign Management
  • Local Search Visibility & Reputation Management
  • Data Analysis and Account Reporting


From 11/2015 - 07/2016 the Be Brilliant!™ Marketing Team increased GCTC's social media audience by 1650%, compared to the previous six months. Click to enlarge graph.

“If I had to do it all over, I would hire them again, in a heartbeat!
— Debra Irving, McKinley, Inc.


  • Black Friday Giveaway video ad: 19,000+ views over four days at 1¢ per view
  • Facebook audience grew by 6,219 users – up 1650% from previous period (see chart)
  • Audience reach grew 589% – reaching  2,557,694 user interactions – compared to previous period.

Strategies & DESIGNS for changing SEASONs

For the year-end holiday shopping blitz, the Be Brilliant! team created social media campaigns, designed online and print ads, and wrote radio spots.

For the late winter and spring, the marketing strategy focused on social media and special events to engage the local community and give seasonal residents and tourists more reasons to visit the mall. As a result, foot traffic was up in the typically slower off-season. We also created a new series of photos, an all-new directory map, and a new mall brochure. 

Check out the project gallery below!

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Be Brilliant!™ | Brilliant Lens LLC is a branding, marketing, and social media agency based in Fort Myers, Florida. Our work and experience have taken us around the globe, working for clients ranging from local entrepreneurs to global, Fortune 100 companies.

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