Month: January 2019

Marketing 3.0StrategyStrategy planning & executionTourism marketing

Brand Planning Should be the CEO’s Baby

This article is written by Bill Baker, Chief Strategist at Total Destination Marketing, author, speaker, and blogger at “Small City Branding around the world”.

At the conclusion of a presentation on place branding, I was approached by the CEO of a mid-west Chamber of Commerce who lamented that their brand planning had resulted in a bland and uncompetitive outcome. To my surprise, the CEO went on to take the blame himself by saying, “I made the mistake of delegating the project to our marketing manager and not taking responsibility to drive the process myself.” I’m sure that he hasn’t made the admission within his community or to his Board, but it’s commendable that he recognized this as being a major factor in the brand’s mediocre result.

The president, executive director, or CEO of the organization leading the effort on behalf of the community must be actively engaged in every aspect of the brand planning and development, and breathe vitality into the assignment. We have found that the only way for the brand to take off is having a leader who “gets it” and has the passion, authority, skills and vision to make it work. If he or she takes a passive role, the brand will almost certainly fail.

Understandably, there may be many legitimate distractions that consume the CEO’s time. However, the brand is at the heart of every activity directed toward the way the place will present itself for years to come, so it is worth every minute that he or she can devote to it. While the CEO may want to delegate aspects of the day-to-day management of the process to others, he must remain intimately involved in crafting and managing the strategy.

This article is re-posted with permission from http://citybranding.typepad.com/city-branding/page/2/

Culture changeStrategyStrategy planning & execution

The Tipping Point’s theory for expanding destinations 3.0 (I)

As it has been explained in previous articles as well as in the Whitepapers, the success of destinations 3.0 is based on growing and expanding a network of varied stakeholders who contribute in different ways to the destination’s business model development, as innovators, content creators, brand ambassadors, etc.

Creating and developing such a network is probably the most daunting of all the challenges in the destination 3.0 journey. Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point explains a theory on how social epidemics and trends work, through the power of influence of three types of characters: Mavens, Connectors, and Salesmen, disregarding the support of the technological means. This theory may serve as a basis for understanding how this stakeholder network development can be achieved, so long as it is possible to craft a strategy to make it happen.

The theory states that social epidemics take place following three common characteristics: contagiousness, little facts causing big effects, and the existence of a turning point in the expansion of the epidemics, also called “the tipping point”. Besides, it identifies three key rules in spreading social epidemics or trends: the law of the few, the stickiness factor, and the power of context.

“The law of the few” says that a group of people with exceptional skills are the ones who create the trend and spread it throughout their community; “the stickiness factor” says that there are some ways to make a message compelling and contagious to create an outstanding impact; and “the power of context” explains how the environment turns to be a key factor to determine human behavior. These three rules can provide us with guidance on how to reach a tipping point in spreading social epidemics.

The law of the few

Understanding why some ideas or messages turn viral and others don’t starts by understanding how people are connected to each other, and findings show that there are different types of people, who connect in different ways and bring different types of value to their community.

Connectors are individuals with an extraordinary knack of making friends and acquaintances. This type of people is important not only for the number of people they know, but also for the many kinds of people they know. They are gifted with an instinct that helps them relate to the people they meet. Therefore, when looking for a job, new information, or new ideas, acquaintances turn to be more useful than friends, because these acquaintances are more likely to live in a different social or professional environment than yours, hence more likely to know many things that neither you nor your friends know.

The closer you are to a Connector, the more powerful, wealthier or the more opportunities you are likely to get. The closer an idea or a product comes to a Connector, the more chances to succeed it has as well.

The Maven, instead, is someone who accumulates knowledge. In recent years, economists have been studying Mavens, so long as if marketplaces depend on information, the people with the most information are among the most important to research on. They are who keep the marketplace honest. They are not just information collectors, once they figure out how to get that deal, they want to tell you about it too, initiating discussions with consumers and responding to requests, becoming helpers in the marketplace. Mavens are teachers, but also students. They are information brokers who share knowledge and create the message to be spread out by Connectors.

Finally, the Salesmen are those especially skilled to persuade the community members on to their way of thinking, to adhere to the new idea or trend and join the social epidemic. What sets them apart from average people is the number and the quality of the answers they have to the objections commonly raised to what they preach.  These persuasive skills relate more to the non-verbal than to the verbal communication, and consist of the ability to express emotions and to be emotionally contagious. People with this ability are also called “senders”.

The rest of the Tipping Point theory is to be explained split in three upcoming articles.

Environmental sustainabilityMarketing 3.0SustainabilityThird sector and social sustainability

How Tourism, Conservation, and Local Economies Can Work Together

I’m not a biologist, but my basic understanding of an ecosystem is an interconnected system of organisms that rely on one another to maintain their existence as they continuously transfer energy from one organism to another. It’s nature’s way of sustaining life.

But what does this have to do with tourism? Aside from our focus on developing tourism in a way that protects and promotes the delicate ecosystems within a destination, there is also an interesting comparison between an ecosystem and all the moving parts of a destination. We believe that tourism, conservation and local economies can be and should be approached in a similar holistic, ecosystem way. Rather than focus on only one aspect of a destination, we need to look at the entire ecosystem – how tourism, conservation and local economies interact, what needs they have, and how they can support one another to benefit the entire destination.

Just as energy and nutrients drive the biological ecosystem, money and experiences drive the destination ecosystem. Money helps fund peoples desire to travel and money is transferred from a visitor to a tourism business in exchange for a unique travel experience. Conservation areas and local economies receive money from travelers and travel businesses (gate fees, hotel stays, guided tours, etc.) and use it to sustain their conservation activities and livelihood. This, in turn, helps protect and enhance the destination so that travelers continue to be inspired to travel to it, maintaining the flow of money to support the destination.

Just like the biological ecosystem after which it is modeled, the destination ecosystem is a delicately balanced system relying on each component to work together to sustain the destination. If done well, tourism, conservation and local economies can sustain themselves; but when done poorly, the system collapses. Biologists realized this long ago and take an ecosystem approach to the areas they study and manage. However, for a destination, such an approach is often lacking, which results in damage to the destination as well as the organizations and people within them.

For example, if park managers decided that they wanted more antelope in their park and supported the growth of the population without looking at the entire ecosystem, they would soon find that their large antelope population had eaten all the grass and the ecosystem would deteriorate. The same is true for a destination, if the focus is purely on one aspect of a destination like growing the local economy, attracting as many visitors as possible, or conserving the destination, without consideration for anything else, the system will crash and the destination will suffer. Rather than looking at a tourism business or a park or the communities around it in isolation, an integrated approach to destinations and the tourism, conservation and local economic activities within them is vital for long-term sustainability.

Integrated planning, implementation, and monitoring of activities within a destination helps to ensure that the balance between all the key players is maintained and that each one can leverage the other for its own benefit and the benefit of the destination. It is only when this integrated ecosystem works together in balance that a destination truly thrives.

For examples of how this kind of approach was used in our work in Uganda, download our case studies on destination development and community tourism enterprise development.

This article is reposted with permission from www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/itemlist/tag/Integrated%20Marketing%20Program

Culture changeStrategy

Fostering engagement and high performance

Apart from innovation and collaboration, a third key ingredient to make the organizations thrive is engagement, not only within the employees but also within the whole stakeholder system. Engagement comes naturally from motivation, which has to be sustained by leaders through trust, fair rewards, mission alignment and empowerment to develop new ideas and initiatives. All together creates not only loyalty and commitment, but also engagement, so long as the organization members have or develop a certain passion for what they do. These ingredients combined are the key elements of a high-performance culture. Performance-based cultures unify employees in a way that their relationships overcome hierarchical or geographical distance, making them feel and behave like within a family.

Commitment makes employees behave more like business owners, showing accountability and taking personal responsibility for the overall performance and not just their area. A high-performance culture has to be aligned with strategy. Such cultures usually share two features:

  • Behaviors related to high engagement. Employees are committed to their work and purpose of the organization, focused on ambitious results regardless of the effort needed.
  • Behaviors that align with the organization’s strategy. The way work gets done promotes the organization’s mission, goals and the strategy designed to realize them.

One of the key ingredients to boost engagement and high performance is passion for the work and for the organization. There are many ways to build passion within the organization:

Spotting Passion from the outset. Identifying enthusiastic professionals, right in the recruitment process is a first step to nurture the organization with the necessary passion. These may be spotted through their initiatives in getting a position within the organization, the way they talk about their job and their vision on their future job, the questions they ask, etc.

Leaders inspiring passion. So long as the leaders’ behavior shapes most of the employees’ behaviors, senior executives should be the first ones who convey passion to their younger peers. A good way to help them in creating an emotional connection between the brand and the team members is by telling stories about how the brand promise can be delivered.

Workspace that inspires passion. Despite the need for individual work spaces, it is also convenient to have open spaces that favor collaboration and let employees help each other with brainstorming and getting past problems even if everyone is working on different projects. All rooms should be bright and colorful with natural or ambient lighting.

Passion for the company. The organization can inspire passion in its members mainly through its mission. As in the case of destinations 3.0, triple bottomed business models, focusing not only on financial goals, but also on social and environmental ones are likely to engage and inspire passion in their employees, so long as they address their concerns.

Beyond high performance, one of the key benefits of employee engagement is turning them into brand ambassadors. Strong brands are not only created by marketing departments. They need the cooperation of the organization’s employees to deliver the brand promise effectively, and employees are those who hold the highest public trust, above Public Relations department or company leaders. Therefore, employees are like the first clients to be convinced, and the best way to gain their buy-in is to care about their concerns, right in the mission definition: not only their personal growth, but also the social and environmental challenges of the community.

Transforming employees into brand ambassadors may be achieved through these three steps:

  1. Promote Self Discovery & Personal Branding. When the employees can be the best version of themselves at work, productivity and retention increase. When they realize that the organization cares about their personal growth and well-being, they are likely to regard it like their second family and engage further in the mission. Helping them discover their strengths and integrate them into their work is essential to your team’s success.
  2. Make Brand awareness a priority. Leaders have to educate their teams on the brand values and live the brand by walking their talk, so they can learn from your example. It is convenient to create stories that illustrate how the brand promise is delivered, not only for the clients but also within the organization. Stories are the best conveyors of values, so long as they help the audience identify with the characters that represent the brand values.
  3. Connect the personal and the corporate. Successful firms help employees develop their personal brands, integrating their individual features with the corporate goals. It’s called applied personal branding. When employees know what makes them unique, and understand the corporate brand goals, they can apply their unique skills to achieve these goals. Each individual needs to determine how he can deliver the corporate brand promise. A strong brand requires employee engagement, which is driven by integrating the personal brands of your people.

This blogpost is from the Whitepaper “Building a culture of collaboration and innovation”, freely downloadable in this weblog. You may check the Whitepaper’s references to know the sources used for its elaboration.

Marketing 3.0Tourism marketing

Why are Bland Brands So Common? PART TWO

This article is written by Bill Baker, Chief Strategist at Total Destination Marketing, author, speaker, and blogger at “Small City Branding around the world”.

As I mentioned in Part One, there are many reasons why destination and place brands can end up being bland and uninteresting. One of the most common causes is sometimes the weak competitive positioning on which the brand is based because of the risk-averse approach preferred by leaders. To get beyond this state, communities need to address the barriers that can prevent them from defining their strongest competitive positioning. These challenges frequently include one or more of the following:

  • Self-interest of key stakeholders and influential groups
  • Insufficient focus on customers and their needs and wants
  • Trying to keep everyone happy
  • The “we’ve got it all” syndrome which is really an excuse for not choosing a point of difference
  • Political interference
  • Parochialism and a lack of objectivity
  • Unfocused and short-sighted thinking
  • Unhelpful mindsets

Then there are many places that choose to by-pass positioning all together because it involves hard decisions and actually standing for something beyond the basic attributes enjoyed by most places. Great place brands emerge when there is focus, consistency, and creativity centered on a unifying, competitive concept that resonates strongly with customers and that competitors can’t easily match. It may sound simple, but achieving this takes courage, leadership and imagination – and tons of selfless teamwork.

Article reposted with permission from http://citybranding.typepad.com/city-branding/page/2/