Category: Marketing 3.0

Marketing trends in all sectors, with focus on storytelling and viral marketing

IntelligenceTourism marketingTourism trends

Cultural Tourism: Four Examples of How It Works for Destinations

According to the World Tourism Organization cultural tourism accounts for 37% of global tourism, and furthermore affirms that it will continue to grow 15% each year. With all of this market interest, destinations should leverage what makes their societies unique and invest in developing cultural tourism programs.

What is Cultural Tourism?

Cultural tourism allows travelers to be immersed in local rituals and routines, taking away not only pretty photos but also shared memories of unique experiences. For destinations, it encourages local communities to embrace their culture and boosts economic growth. Developing culturally geared tourism programs encourages destinations to celebrate and promote what distinguishes their communities, and in doing so, provides the opportunity for authentic cultural exchange between locals and visitors. The following four case studies illustrate how cultural tourism can be developed.

Morocco: Down the Road of Traditional Crafts

Before 2010, Morocco has a vibrant craft industry, yet artisans had insufficient opportunity for direct sales. Aid to Artisans and the Moroccan Ministry of Crafts cooperated to facilitate direct linkages between artisans and tourists in Marrakech and Fez. This was achieved through establishing new or updating existing artisan and cultural heritage routes, and furnishing them with engaging creating marketing collateral. The team involved as many as 6,603 sale points and was successful in increasing artisan revenue. As a result of this project, crafts and tourism in the area are now more linked than ever before.

Ethiopia: Empowering Community Enterprises for Long-term Success

Ethiopia’s Bale Mountain area is lush and beautiful, and is the home of successful community-led tourism initiatives. The conservation and regulation problems in Ethiopia were addressed by affecting a sustainable tourism development project in partnership with the Frankfurt Zoological Society. The team created 7 community tourism enterprises as well as branding and marketing tools aimed at awareness-building among foreigners and locals alike. The local communities now leverage their cultural heritage, which includes expressive dances and crafts, in its tourism development. This offers them alternative livelihoods that in turn benefit environmental conservation.

Namibia: From North America to Local Villages

 Namibia is a country of rich tourism potential that prior to 2010 had not been successful in fully captivating the North American travel market. A comprehensive trade-focused marketing campaign was launched with the goal of increasing North American arrivals in Namibia over the course of 4 years. By fostering partnerships between Namibian and North American trade, and leading destinations awareness campaigns, this mission was successful.

 Community-based tourism was a large component in promoting the country to the North American market. The campaign succeeded in increasing the number of tourists and routes visiting Namibia by 75% by 2013, exceeding expectations. This helped improve local employment opportunities and enhance cultural awareness among international visitors.

Colombia: More than Whales at Nuquí/Utría National Park

Nuquí/Utría National Park is famous for its prolific whale watching opportunities. However, it suffers from a lack of organizational and business capacity, as well as weak marketing outreach. In 2012, the challenge was tackled by creating a destination marketing alliance with four local community tourism enterprises, providing them capacity building trainings. The team developed and promoted new tour packages that incorporated cultural elements, such as visits to a typical Pacific Chocó village. The team liaised with the Colombian Ministries of Tourism and the Environment to feature the park as a model for sustainable tourism development in a protected area. Through this work, the team was successful in increasing the gross sales of each of these community tourism enterprises and the number of tourism products in this remote area.

This blog post is from www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/itemlist/tag/Destination%20Management

Collaborative business modelsCollaborative cultureMarketing 3.0Strategy

For Smart Cities, to collaborate is the smartest thing to do

According to a United Nations report, 70% of the world’s population is expected to be living in cities by 2050. This is why overcoming many of today’s humankind challenges in areas such energy, water, food, climate change, health, etc.  will depend mainly on the success of the so called Smart Cities strategies. But as urgent we consider the implementation of smarter cities, making it really happen still remains a challenge several years after the concept was first coined.

As in many other cases, we think too collaboration should be a key factor implementing a truly transformative Smart City strategy. Considering the broad and diverse kind of stakeholders, expertise, knowledge, technologies, etc. needed for an average Smart City project, it is difficult to imagine any that does not require the commitment and dedication of a collective team.

The idea of a Smart City promises to improve municipal operations and the health and safety of citizens. New models of cooperation and engagement will make a tangible difference for this promise to move to a reality. These are just few of the many possible…

Organizational changes in local administrations

City managers are main actors on the potential gains of properly implementing Smart City initiatives. But many of the challenges they confront in order to achieve efficient outcomes of such initiatives still lie on the way city government is structured. As it happens in many other organizations, many departments and units in city councils are operated in isolation without any or little consideration of other departments. Add to that, an extra layer of red tape and special sensibility about the immutability of roles and positions that sadly are still typical of public government organizations.

But despite these cultural and organizational barriers, when projects need to address such variety of issues as, for instance, transportation systems, law enforcement, community services, water supply networks or waste management, some Smart City projects have become the driver for cultural changes and shifting attitudes that seemed impossible so far.

Sharing experiences and knowledge

“Lessons learned” are an important asset in competitive markets in which proprietary Know How can be easily turned into a competitive advantage. But it does not make much sense for cities to compete with other cities to be smarter, especially in the case of cities at the same continent and in projects funded by the same supranational organization.

Knowledge exchange and transfer is a crucial element of many of the projects funded by the European Union. The GrowSmarter project is one of the most important bets of the European Commission for the smart development of urban areas, and represents one of the only three projects that the Commission has financed under the umbrella of the “Lighthouse”. GrowSmarter brings together cities and industry to integrate and demonstrate ‘12 smart city solutions’ in energy, infrastructure and transport.

Key for the project is the concept of “Lighthouse Cities”, as the 12 smart solutions are being rolled out in designated sites in three cities: Stockholm, Cologne and Barcelona – including industrial areas, suburban and downtown districts, ensuring a sample base representative of many European cities. The idea is for these three “Lighthouses Cities” to show how ‘smart’ can work in practice documenting their journey with regular news updates. This way, the project specifically aims to provide other cities with valuable insights on how the smart solutions work in practice and the opportunities for replication, creating a butterfly effect.

GrowSmarter even considers the existence of five “follower cities” (Cork, Graz, Malta, Porto and Suceava) which role is to work closely with those “Lighthouses Cities” to learn from their experiences.  The three Lighthouse Cities will each host a number of study visits and European workshops, providing opportunities to see first-hand technological application of the smart solutions.

Sharing Standards

The performance of a city is intimately linked to its physical and communications infrastructures and the delivery of resources through these infrastructures. At present, the delivery of city services tend to operate in isolation from each other, in silos of activities, governance and information. But new digital infrastructures offer the potential of increased service integration that could ultimately result in services provision cost reduction, natural resource savings and efficiency gains for cities and their inhabitants.

Standards are required in order to accommodate such integration of data. But smart city implementations tend to focus on specific cities or services rather than multiple locations and services. This individual focus in the main cause of the lack of standards across the market. Many organizations and analyst, including the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), advocate the development and generalization of international standards for smart cities.

In UK, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills commissioned the British Standards Institution to develop a standards strategy for Smart Cities in the county. The strategy identifies the role of standards in accelerating the implementation of Smart Cities. As part of this strategy the Cities Standards Institute is a joint initiative of the British Standards Institution and the Future Cities Catapult bringing together cities and key industry leaders and innovators to work together in identifying the challenges facing cities, providing solutions to common problems and defining the future of smart city standards.

By developing a coherent set of standards that addresses key market barriers, smart city products and services become easier to be widely accepted. Promoters of the consortium consider than an easier acceptance of these products and services ultimately accelerates the growth of the future cities market, first in the UK and then globally. The Cities Standards Institute is also leading a set of programs to help cities, companies and SMEs to implement standards-based solutions and strategies, and to ensure the uptake of smart city standards regionally and internationally.

This blog post is from www.co-society.com

Business trendsIntelligenceMarketing 3.0Tourism trends

The next generation has arrived

Facebook.  Snapchat. Airbnb. easyJet, TripAdvisor. Tinder. Instagram. What do all these have in common? Yes, they’re all popular apps and websites (some apps never even had to bother to build their own webpage…that’s SO 1999!). They have also coincided with, and been driven by a generation: the Millennial generation.

Born during the 80s and 90s and consuming independently (as teenagers and post-teens anytime after the year 2000), the Millennium generation has, consistently broken with tradition and found new ways of living, working and of course, traveling; something that’s proved hard for major global corporations to keep up with, never mind tourism destinations.

While it’s hard to define the traveling behavior of an entire generation (though this Huffpost article does makes a good attempt), probably the characteristic that defines them the best is the way they have grasped technology and used it to their advantage: to get instant recommendations from friends, to find cheap (or free) accommodation, to escape the crowds and to meet new people.

Of course, all ages are able to enjoy the same access to apps and web platforms that allow these things to happen, but Millennials are the first generation to have grown up with the internet 24/7 so the web is the first port of call when looking to solve any travel related issue, before, during and after the journey.

As well as being the first generation to grow up in the era of ‘internet everywhere’ this generation, in Europe and North America at least, entered adulthood as the global economic crisis took hold. House prices rose, banks stopped handing over credit like they used to, and whole industries (and with them, job opportunities) have moved to far-away lands. All this has created a sense of doubt among Millennials that they will enjoy the same economic prosperity that their parents did. No matter though, because fortunately this is also the generation of #YOLO (you only live once) and the travel industry has noticed this, with Millennials traveling a lot, spending more than their parents, and seeking intense experiences everywhere they go.

All this undoubtedly creates a complex picture for anyone looking to define their tourism business or destination’s strategy for capturing and nurturing the Millennials market.

This blog post is from   http://www.toposophy.com/insights/insight/?bid=393

Marketing 3.0Tourism marketing

Suggestions to travel brands and DMOs on how to improve their blogger outreach activity (II)

 

1. ADDRESS BLOGGERS BY THEIR NAME

It is amazing how many bloggers get sent generic emails. In 30% of all emails I receive, I find the press releases are addressed to me without using my name and even worse they are getting my name wrong. It damages your agencies professional reputation and that of the brand. Even worse is, that as someone who writes about budget travel…. I get a PR agency sending me a press release about the launch of a luxury hotel. It is also surprising how often bloggers get blanket emails from PR professionals about working with a brand that they already have a relationship with.

2. GIVE YOUR BLOGGER OUTREACH A HUMAN FACE

Bloggers, the really good ones, tend to be very fussy when it comes to working with brands. The bigger the blog, the more they are likely to be focusing on developing a few but solid partnerships with brands relevant to their niche. Remember we work in an information-rich environment filled with millions of choices. On average I’ll get at least 50 pitches a week from brands wanting to work with my blog so your approach, your pitch, has to really stand out. Take the time to research the person’s blog, understand what their interests are and find out their current blogging projects. Comment on their blogs or Instagram account. Follow them on their social channels. Share their content with your audience if it adds value to your customers. Arrange a time to call them, even if they are on the other side of the world. You can chat with them via Skype. I’m always happy to talk to brands. The fact that you are willing to take the time to explain your brand and learn more about the blogger, takes you straight to the top of the queue. Get creative and invite bloggers to a Twitter chat or Google + hangout, or even a Q&A session with your director / marketing manager.

3. BRANDS NEED A FULLY INTEGRATED APPROACH TO BLOGGER RELATIONS

Some tourism DMO’s are still stuck with the idea that social media, SEO and public relations are separate marketing strategies. Online, social media, SEO are all part of your online strategy. They have to complement your blogger outreach activity. As a result of not having an integrated strategy when working with bloggers, brands are losing out on opportunities to further build their brands and to create brand advocates by combining the power of the three, working together.

4. THE PRESS TRIP MODEL IS DYING

The world of new media needs new rules of engagement. The ‘One size fits all’ approach of PR’s and treating bloggers the same as journalists can backfire badly.

Press trips. In my first year of blogging I was invited mainly on press trips along with other journalists. I remember my days being packed from 8am in the morning till 12 at night. What a tourist would see and experience in a week, we were being shown in a day. So much for travel being all about the experience. 5 years on, I can only vividly remember my trips to Costa Brava, Poitou Charentes and Rotterdam which is a testament to the quality and care of their blogger outreach.

One of the key things when working with bloggers is how they tell the story of the destination through real-time storytelling. So you have to offer bloggers a mobile wifi device with a decent data allowance. You have to allow time for the bloggers to compose tweets, Facebook updates, Instagram or even do a scope ( Periscope). This is laborious and energy consuming work. Forget about updating your social networks, I found there is little or no time to pause for taking a picture on press trips. I remember on one trip spending the most time being shown around hotels. By the end of the day, I was exhausted. Few bloggers I personally know don’t mind the ‘all action’ nature of press trips but I, personally, prefer when the events of the day are well spaced out. Instead of inviting bloggers to press trips, allow them to create their own trip. Travel is an emotional sell. Give the bloggers the freedom and the trust to build a relationship with your destination.

5. HAVE A LONG TERM STRATEGY WHEN WORKING WITH BLOGGERS

Brands have to move away from the short term, tactical nature of mass engaging bloggers and instead focus their efforts on identifying and working with key influencers. There is also room in this model for engaging with emerging influencers and bloggers. By building a long term relationship with a blogger you are likely to have a bigger chance of converting them into brand ambassadors which is where the real value of working with bloggers is.

New media needs new rules of engagement. It requires brands and DMO’s to make some tough choices and go off the well beaten track. Experimentation is needed. There are risks but for those brands and DMO’s willing to change their attitude to blogger outreach, the long-term benefits are huge.

This blog post is from  http://www.toposophy.com/insights/insight/?bid=405

Marketing 3.0Tourism marketing

Suggestions to travel brands and DMOs on how to improve their blogger outreach activity (I)

While there has been a gradual evolution in the blogging industry towards becoming professional, has blogger outreach evolved and improved over the last few years?

My personal observation after attending TBEX Costa Brava is that while there has been a definite improvement in blogger outreach, there is still huge room for improvement. A fact echoed by my fellow speakers, is that educating the brands and sponsors remains a key priority.

The rise of blogger collectives and networks like iAmbassador, Captivate, Navigate, Travelator Media and the PTBA has made the lives of those doing travel blogger outreach a lot more easy. However as said, there is plenty of room for improvement. On both sides. Bloggers need to up their game too but that is a topic for another post. My personal thoughts are summarized in the following points:

1.  THERE NEEDS TO BE AN EVOLUTION IN BLOGGER OUTREACH FROM A PR PERSPECTIVE

There needs to be an evolution in PR.  I feel that most  PR agencies are currently not setup to deal with the key influencers. While there are some agencies who are investing heavily, attending travel blogging conferences and spending time to get to know the bloggers personally, there is still a feeling that the majority of agencies do not know who the real influencers are for their brand and are unaware of how to maximize their potential. Some of it is really simple. Like actually taking the time to read the blogs. Monitor how they are interacting with readers. I know that PR agencies are stretched resource wise but these are the basics of blogger outreach.

There was a controversial observation made by Alastair McKenzie at the recent Traverse travel blogging conference about whether the PR agency model was in danger of becoming extinct. Alastair’s observation sounds far-fetched and outrageous to some, but there is an element of truth in his comment.

The limited scope and budget that PR agencies have at their disposal mean that the true reach and potential of bloggers is not being realized. This is directly not the fault of the PR agencies. Modern blogger outreach sits somewhere between PR and marketing.

Something needs to change. PR budgets need to expand to improve the quality of blogger outreach. Or does the blogger bypass the PR agencies and speak directly with the marketing directors?  The days of earned media are coming to an end so we need to rethink the role of PR in this brave new world of native advertising and branded content.

2. DON’T DEPEND ON AN SEO AGENCY TO DO BLOGGER OUTREACH

This leads onto the second point. While PR agencies still have a handle over blogger outreach in some form or another, I clearly think the majority of SEO agencies do not have a clue about blogger outreach. Download the MOZ toolbar. Research keywords for your client. Identify bloggers who rank high in those keywords. Craft an email that you can send to all bloggers. Just to make life easy for you.

Here is an example on behalf of a hotel chain in Ireland. “My name is John, I work for X Hotels Ireland (xhotels.ie ) a hotel chain in the country. We are promoting tourism in Ireland and found your website budgettraveller.org would be ideal to share bespoke and unique content about things to do when visiting Ireland.

Are you interested in receiving and sharing unique and relevant travel content for budgettraveller.org?
The content provided is written by our in-house professional writer and the featured piece would be tailored to your website and relevant to your readers and their interests. If you prefer you could suggest a topic for our content writer to create and we can get that unique piece of content to you for you to share. If you would like to see examples, you can find several on our blog at xhotel.ie.  If you have any questions, feel free to contact me back and work something out”.

What is it with SEO agencies and the word ‘bespoke and unique content’? The moment I see these dreaded words, the email is in my trash. Bloggers are the experts at producing fresh, unique content for their readers. What would be my advice for SEO agencies? STICK to SEO. Communication is not your forte.

Also in case you didn’t know, the practice of buying links and manipulating search engine rankings of a brand are clearly over so don’t approach bloggers with sponsored posts. Bloggers beware of sponsored posts. There are better and more sustainable ways of working with a brand, than posting sponsored content on your blog.

Just as there needs to be evolution in PR, there needs to be an evolution on how brands treat SEO. SEO still has a huge role to play in destination marketing. Focus on the quality, not the quantity of links. Build more on organic links. The only way you can do this is by building long-term relationships with bloggers who are truly passionate about your clients’ brand. Look after your brand advocates. For me it has to be a mixture of financial incentives and also giving bloggers the complete creative freedom to engage with your brand.

3. HIRING BLOGGERS = INCREASED NUMBER OF TOURISTS TO MY DESTINATION?

I often find DMO’s somewhat obscure when starting their blogger outreach: they are inviting bloggers left right and center with little forethought of how bloggers and content sits in their marketing strategy. Blogs are not direct sales engines. There are examples of bloggers like Planet D’s Outdoor Ontario and iAmbassador’s Melbourne and Royal Brunei Airlines campaign which have had huge success in helping generating sales for a brand. However, there are many key areas where a blogger can start and influence the conversation around a brand. It is also no point inviting a blogger to write a review about a hotel when the brand in question has not optimized their booking pages or their website is not mobile friendly.

4. PRESS RELEASES DON’T WORK WITH BLOGGERS

Just as much as travel editors don’t respond to press releases, majority of bloggers will rarely respond to or choose to publish press releases.

Besides the problem of duplicate content that may arise from publishing press releases, I just find alarming the number of brands introducing themselves to bloggers via a press release. Most bloggers are on Twitter or LinkedIn. Connect with us there and send us the link to your press release. I am far more likely to respond to a tweet, than an email.  Plus if you do want to send a press release via email, try and add some value to the press release and have a personalized approach. Remember that personal stories drive the most engagement on blogs. Think how your client’s story can fit into the story of the blogger you are reaching out to. Find a hook of how the blogger can introduce the brand to their audience.

Marketing 3.0StrategyTourism marketing

How to Avoid Being Anytown, USA Part 4

Firstly, there is no one action or magic bullet that can save places from the Anytown, USA sameness trap. However, one thing is certain, and that is that it will take leadership and a holistic approach involving many local organizations, along with the support of residents. Among the considerations are:

  1. A clear vision that crystallizes the city’s competitive advantage and distinctive strengths.
  2. A brand strategy that embraces competitive positioning and is aligned with the vision. It should provide the guidance for compelling communications and delivering the city’s distinctive identity.
  3. A focus on what’s authentic and organic about the city.
  4. Develop a long-term tourism strategy that embraces Geotourism principles to focus on what sustains or enhances the character of the place – its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well-being of its residents.
  5. Don’t settle for cookie-cutter designs and every development that is offered to the city.
  6. Identify, preserve and present the city’s heritage and stories. Tell the story in engaging ways for locals, as well as visitors.
  7. Invest in the city’s aesthetics and gathering places because these are focal points for both locals and visitors.
  8. Introduce development guidelines for buildings and signage that enhance heritage, streetscapes and viewing corridors.
  9. Urge hoteliers, restaurateurs and retailers to enhance the appeal of the community by developing sites that are sensitive to local heritage, materials and style.
  10. Protect and enhance community gateways and viewing corridors to provide a distinctive sense of welcome.
  11. Restrict or eliminate billboards because they can strip away scenic beauty and a community’s distinctive character faster than other factors.
  12. Encourage the development of experiences that provide opportunities to encounter the city’s authentic cultural and natural environment.
  13. Encourage residents, business, developers, and all relevant government departments to respect the city’s heritage and environmental context when considering new developments and restoration.
  14. Build community pride and ownership in what is distinctive and special about the city.

If a city is not clearly differentiated or remains in the shadow of its competitors, it will always be seen as a pale alternative, and proving that it is different, relevant and adds value will become increasingly difficult. The rewards for small cities that break out of the Anytown Syndrome are considerable. There are great opportunities for leaders to offer citizens a vision and policies that will retain and develop their city’s distinctive character and take the road away from being another Anytown.

Those that take the route away from Anytown status are rewarded with increased income, investment, talented new residents and a great place to live.

This post is from http://citybranding.typepad.com/

Marketing 3.0Tourism marketing

Amplify Your Roar: Leverage Social Media to Market Your Destination

In this generation, social media is more important than ever, especially for tourism marketing. People are spending over four times more time on Facebook than Google – today there are about 1.3 billion people on Facebook. Is Facebook really useful for businesses? Let this number convince you – 52% of businesses have acquired customers through Facebook. That’s a lot of potential for the tourism industry.

Needless to say, social media can be your destination’s magic megaphone. But do you know how to use it well? Here are some questions to ask yourself as you endeavor to amplify your roar.

Are You Connecting With People? No, Really Connecting?

A billboard does not listen. People listen. This is where social media differs from traditional marketing- as you can (and should) be interacting with your audience directly. Ask questions. Make it interactive. Reply to comments.

Another exciting thing about social media marketing is the way in which even one individual’s Likes, Shares, Comments, Tweets, Friends, or Tags are able to increase your visibility, diverting more and more eyes to you.

Are You Developing the Right Content?

60% of the sales process is over before a prospective buyer ever talks to a salesman or begins the process. What does that mean? It means that almost every single visitor will make a majority of their decision through online research before anything else. You want to create content that supports them in that online research phase.

So be sure to evaluate your content. Have you thought about keywords? How is the quality of your images? Are you providing a diverse enough array of multimedia content? What are you offering and are you communicating it in an appealing way? These are important thoughts to take into consideration.

Are You On the Right Platform?

It is also important to know where to roar.  Find out who your target audience is, and where they spend their time in the online world. They could be on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, or maybe even all of the above. There is more to social media than Facebook and one of the best ways to amplify your roar is to increase your reach through these different, targeted social media platforms.

Are You Showcasing Personality?

Social media also offers you a unique opportunity to be human. Nobody wants to talk to a salesman who is constantly pitching; they want to build relationships with real people. The same principle applies when it comes to creating brand loyalty, trust and eventually sales. Don’t be afraid to show a little bit of humor and personality in your social media marketing strategy. Be relevant, not robotic. If visitors to your social media site are having fun, they will want to have fun at your actual physical site too.

What Does Your Unique Roar Sound Like?

Every destination, including yours, has something unique to offer. So there’s no need to spend all your time trying to imitate somebody else’s roar.

A destination assessment can go a long way in identifying your hidden gems and how to best conserve them. Many destinations have a diverse array of brilliant tourism products which have been overlooked. You want to be able to spot these with destination assessments and to also tailor social media marketing strategies to showcasing your best colors. Some projects in Rwanda, Namibia and the U.S. Gulf Coast, for example, have been integral in doing that: maximizing an active audience of followers, generating stunning branding content and increasing revenue by presenting destinations at the very peak of their potential.

With unlimited online space, the opportunities to multiply your untapped audience are limitless. Take the right steps with social media and you could have the loudest roar of all.

This blog post is from www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/itemlist/tag/Destination%20Assessment

StrategyTourism marketing

How to Avoid Being Anytown, USA: Part Three

There are many reasons why even well-meaning cities can end up being bland and uninteresting. The most common causes are that they lack bold vision, belief in themselves and don’t have a focus on their distinctive points of difference. On many occasions it’s because they try to be all things to all people and lack the will to stand for one thing around which they can build a competitive advantage. They may also be neglecting their natural, heritage or cultural assets. To get beyond this state takes vision, some good old-fashioned guts and stop trying to please and appease local interest groups.

Great place brands thrive when there is a touch of tension derived from making a stand around a singular brand 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 a great amount of selfless teamwork.

Dare to be Different

To avoid the Anytown, USA syndrome a city cannot present itself as all things to all people, or claim that they “have it all” or are “the center of it all”. These platitudes simply dilute any competitive edge and the city ends standing for nothing and being a weak imitation of other places.

We rarely conduct a Brand Retreat or focus group for a community when someone doesn’t say, “This is the best place to live, work and play”. Further, many residents advocate that it should be the city tagline.

While researching for “Destination Branding for Small Cities” I Googled the term, “a great place to live, work and play” and variations thereof. I found over 4 million results. So if you are considering joining the masses in building a community brand based on being “a great place to live, work and play”, you have simply identified an entry level ticket to play the game. There are tens of thousands of places in the USA and even more around the world that can match that claim. You simply have to dig deeper to uncover the heart and soul of your city and what will help it stand out and be valued.

It is easy for residents to overlook the appearance of their streets, the absence of trees, the poor lighting, trash and bad signage that may have evolved over the years. Visitors, however, are much less forgiving. When attention has been paid to the aesthetics of a place, including preserving or enhancing its natural qualities and environments, the city gains the reputation as a “special place” or a “fun place to hangout”, and this goes a long way toward supporting its brand identity.

City Image Boosts Economic Development

Tourism is now one of the key drivers of the American economy. It’s a leading employer in communities across the country, and a highly efficient revenue generator for state and local governments. States and cities are increasingly treating their travel promotion budgets like strategic investments that will be rewarded with more visitors, more jobs and higher tax revenues. But gaining these rewards means not being seen as Anytown, USA.

When city leaders recognize that there is a direct link between their city’s image and reputation and its attractiveness as a place to visit, live, and invest it is off to a good start. If a city isn’t attracting more income, talented people, new residents and investment then it is slowly dying.

A 2015 landmark study by Oxford Economics analyzed the tourism performance of more than 200 U.S. cities over 23 years and found widespread economic benefits from those actively promoting tourism. The study clearly showed a direct link between marketing expenditure of destination marketing organizations (DMOs) and long-term economic growth.

This post is from http://citybranding.typepad.com/

Marketing 3.0StrategyTourism marketing

How to Avoid Being Anytown, USA: Part Two

We are living in the most competitive time in history, where cities of all sizes find themselves competing more fiercely for relevance, respect and reputation. In the USA alone there are approximately 20,000 incorporated cities, 3,400 counties, and myriad downtowns and suburbs clamoring for attention. Many are trying to compete with an image that is out of date, bland or inaccurate. These images, whether accurate or not are the reality for people who may be searching for a place to visit, live, or invest.

The biggest challenge facing many places is taking control of their identity and reputation which may have been unmanaged for a long time. Without a clear vision or a place branding strategy, a city may bounce from one set of messages to another without considering what the place should be known for.

Place branding involves much more than a new logo and snappy slogan. It should provide a framework and toolkit for differentiating, communicating and focusing the location’s competitive and distinctive identity.  It must be grounded in truth and reality, and not wishful thinking and hype. This means that what cities are promising must be met or exceeded when people are actually experiencing the place. Ambitious places wanting to avoid being Anytown, USA should first resolve a few basic questions:

  1. What do we want to be known for?
  2. How can we stand out from the crowd and be more competitive?
  3. What thoughts and feelings do we want to come to mind when people are exposed to our name?
  4. How can we build and preserve our heritage and authenticity?

Great Leaders Lead to Great Places

Many communities are becoming increasingly conscious of the need to proactively shape and influence what the world thinks of them and not allow inaction, the media or competitors to define who they are. They must resist developers and corporations far removed from their communities who would like to plant their cookie cutter designs and architecture in their towns. An important starting point is for city leaders to recognize that there is a direct link between the city’s distinctive image, respect and reputation and its attractiveness as a place to visit, live, invest, and study.

An even greater realization for some is that inaction is not a viable option if they genuinely want to display their distinctive character and improve local prosperity. Unfortunately, while many cities and regions are attempting to avoid Anytown USA status, many simply settle for cookie cutter architecture, a new logo and new design for their website.  They totally miss the transformative power of differentiation through branding.

This post is from http://citybranding.typepad.com/

StrategyTourism marketing

The Basics of Integrated Marketing Programs

An integrated marketing program in the travel trade is a comprehensive marketing solution specifically designed to ensure that all messaging and communications are unified across all channels and strategically focused to attract the customer- travelers.

It is a concept based on the principles of inbound marketing: providing valuable content to highly targeted consumers, which attracts and engages them, moving them down the funnel towards buying your services, product or in our case- a destination. This way, businesses and destinations spend their valuable resources in the most productive way, and consumers are delighted by content relevant to their interests.

There are seven essential steps to creating a great integrated marketing program. Through these steps, your business will be able to develop and maintain a simple yet productive integrated marketing campaign. They are:

  1. Marketing Strategy – After a thorough analysis of the business or destination’s features and attraction, an integrated marketing strategy must be developed. The strategy will serve as a road map for the implementation of an integrated marketing program—and should be tailored to your product’s needs. The strategy should integrate social media, search engine optimization, blogging, content and lead nurturing, public relations and trade relations.
  2. Brand Analysis – Prior to implementing any integrated campaigns, a specific brand or logo should be developed in order to improve your look and focus your message.
  3. Website and Content Development – Once a consumer finds your website, the goal is to make it so captivating that they want to stay on the site, engage in your content, and share it with others. To do this, both content and a schedule for posting it should be generated.
  4. Social Media Strategy and Blogging – Social media gives you a place to talk to your consumers before they travel, while they travel, and after they have returned. This includes social networks, blogs, micro-blogging sites, and third party sites. It is important to determine the best channels to use for your target markets, and what content to post.
  5. Creative Campaigns – With all pieces of your marketing foundation in place, now is the time to develop and implement creative campaigns and sweepstakes designed to draw visitors to both your site and social media platforms, while synchronizing your marketing message and brand value for maximum effectiveness.
  6. PR/Media Outreach Strategy – In creating a PR/Media strategy, it is important to employ simple but effective monitoring tools to allow you to identify influencers in your market. Then you can “listen” to the conversations taking place online, join ongoing conversations, build trust, and demonstrate expertise. It is critical to develop a database of contacts and design effective outreach campaigns to reach local and national media, relevant bloggers, guidebooks, and sales intermediaries.
  7. Trade Distribution Strategy – If you work with business to business (B2B) sales, it is most effective to take your relationships online by developing a dynamic database that tracks all communication with trade partners; from the initial email/call, to in-person meetings at trade shows, and shares on social media sites by each partner. Having a detailed record of your communication history with your partners helps you strengthen your business relationships.

In sum, integrated marketing programs provide an effective and streamlined solution to marketing, which is thus more productive for both the businesses and the consumers. They create a pleasant marketing/consumption experience, ultimately leading to more concrete results for businesses.

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