Category: Tourism marketing

Trends, ideas and case studies on tourism marketing

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/

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/

Business trendsIntelligenceMarketing 3.0Tourism marketingTourism trends

Destination Marketing For Millennials

It may be the year of the horse in the Chinese Zodiac, but in the travel industry, 2014 should probably be marked as the year of the local. Mass travel is out, and local, personalized experiences are in. Destination campaigns that emphasize local travel like ‘Visit Philadelphia’ and ‘London and Beyond‘ have already been wildly successful.

Who is driving this trend in travel? Millennials, of course – those who were born in the early 1980s – 2000s. Is your tourism business ready for the Millennials? Let’s start by looking at a few key features of this generation, as reported in this extensive study about Millennial travelers, & some ways tourism marketers can reach this key demographic.

marketing for millenials

Are you familiar with the next generation of travelers?

They are tech savvy. This almost goes without saying. Having grown up in a digital age, Millennials are now heavily tech-dependent. They consume information on a rapid and almost constant basis. In terms of travel, this means they book trips faster and, in turn, often share their own travel experiences in real time.

They are good citizens. Nearly half of Millennials show more interest in destinations that offer volunteering opportunities. Moreover, compared with the people over 30 years old, Millennials are more willing to engage in sustainable practices and care more about environmental issues.

They like to learn. Travel isn’t just about fun with this generation. Millennials are attracted to authentic destinations where they have the opportunity to learn something new. They also prefer hands-on, interactive experiences.

They are spontaneous. Many airlines and hotels have begun offering last-minute online travel deals targeted at digitally savvy Millennial travelers. A host of apps like Jetsetter and NextFlight have emerged to help travelers find a flight or a hotel on a whim.

They rely on word-of-mouth recommendations. 8 out of 10 travelers say they are likely to trust the recommendations of a family member or friend via social media when it comes to travel. However, more and more recent studies tend to report that travelers trust reviews from peer reviews and strangers more than those from friends or colleagues.

What does this mean for your business or destination?

All of this is great news for sustainable and community-based destinations. And it’s a call to action for all destinations to begin focusing on more authentic experiences. Here are some things every destination can do to help reach this desirable group of travelers:

Involve Locals. By far the best brand ambassadors of any destination are the people who live there, work there, and just love being there. Collaboration with local residents in destination marketing yields enormous results. Millennialls flock to this type of information because it’s authentic, insider information that stands out in a sea of mundane reviews. Millennials want to travel like locals, and there is no better way to do that than by connecting them with the local people of a destination.

Facilitate Relationship Building. All travelers want to feel special and welcome. It’s no different with Millennials. By making them feel welcome before they even touch down in a destination, you’ll already be establishing a positive experience. Visit a Swede is one great example of this relational marketing. The website aims to connect visitors with a local Swede before they even arrive in country. It’s takes the idea of involving locals to a whole new level – by promoting them as tour guides, coffee buddies, dinner hosts, and so much more. Bewelcome has also opened up channels of communication between the locals and the visitors.

Emphasize Authenticity. The last takeaway is the most encouraging: focus more on authenticity. The best part is that this is also the easiest lesson! Instead of focusing on what your destination lacks, you should find ways to celebrate what it has. You might be surprised by the response to some honest marketing that highlights the unique or quirky about your destination. Not every desirable destination has to have sunshine and beaches. Millennials are open to learning & relish new opportunities so don’t be afraid to embrace the off-the-beaten places within your destination.

This blog post is from www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/itemlist/tag/Social%20Media%20Marketing

Marketing 3.0Tourism marketing

Why is a Bland Place Brand the Fast Path to a Non-Brand? – PART ONE

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

One of the great challenges for many places when it comes to place branding is to not become absolutely boring and bland in an effort to please disparate voices within the community. It’s so easy (and quicker) to just settle on the warm and fuzzy, right?

The task is even harder when the community opts to define the brand themselves without outside help. Problems start to arise when no-one is pushing to move beyond the generic, threshold qualities that every ambitious city must have to play the place marketing game. Too many choose to stop when they reach a concept that pleases a block of stakeholders. Sometimes it’s as trite as the old standby, “a great place to live, work and play” or a variation on that theme.

Too frequently these cities and regions end up with a logo and tagline based on qualities that are irrelevant to external customers or can be easily exceeded by other places. Trying to define a brand that everyone in the community is going to like is a sure-fire path to revealing a bland brand. These brands attract no attention, don’t resonate with markets and are a poor imitation of thousands of other meaningless places.

All successful place brands have an imaginative edge or tension that resonates with target audiences, but may sometimes not be liked by some locals. The important issue to examine is the nature and substance of their dislike. To be different and stand apart in ways that are meaningful can be a challenge for some community leaders. The critical point that they must keep in mind is that the brand is being orchestrated for external audiences to meet specific and sometimes economic objectives.

A strong, sustainable place brand demands leaders who exert strong leadership don’t simply pander to local interests. They must be truly customer-focused and help locals understand the brand and its benefits to them. Diluting the brand in an effort to please vocal locals at the expense of target customers is the best path to a spectacularly bland brand.

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

Marketing 3.0Tourism marketingTourism trends

Using Pinterest for Destination Marketing

If you’re in the tourism industry and you’re already on Pinterest – nice work! If you’re not, now is a great time to start. You’ve heard the cliché, “Pictures don’t do it justice,” and that could not be more true than with travel.

Which catches your attention?

“A glass bottom boat with a thatched roof

anchored in crystal-clear, calm, blue water.”

The image, of course! Words can be very descriptive – great content is key in successful online marketing, after all – but images are more descriptive, leaving an imprint on minds and covering every language on the planet. Graphics rapidly fill the human mind – cognitively and emotionally, according to Mike Parkinson at Billion Dollar Graphics. Humans are very visual creatures – telling stories ages ago by painting images on rocks. We still use images today to tell our travel stories.

Pictures are much easier to process and much more compelling. Images are a great way to quickly and effectively express an experience, fact, or description. Not to mention that people are more likely to remember what they see. Even more importantly, images are an important part of the travel buying cycle. This graphic from Google is one of our favorites:

pinterest

Travel starts with dreaming, and a lot of times, dreaming starts with images. A photo of a picturesque beach, delicious local cuisine, or a breathtaking landscape have all launched travel experiences. And images are just as important in the sharing phase. After a traveler has returned from a trip, the sharing of their photos helps inspire others and launches them into the dreaming phase of the cycle.

How can a tourism business effectively use images for destination marketing? How can your business or destination engage travelers in the dreaming and sharing phases of travel? One great answer is by using Pinterest. This social media platform is incredibly useful to the tourism industry because it encourages the dreaming and sharing phases of travel through images and storytelling. In fact, Pinterest counts about 1.5 million destination pins every day, and now there are more than 750 million destination pins on Pinterest!

For tourism destinations, Pinterest can be a centralized photo space to show off destination highlights and discoveries. It is like a very large, continuous, and easily-updated scrapbook. For travelers, Pinterest provides a place to gather and organize destination images that represent ideas for future travel, thus, providing destination marketers a look into potential customers ‘usually secret’ travel bucket-list. Tourism destinations can use Pinterest to influence travelers to add their destination to travel dream-lists. When a tourism business analyzes their followers they can interact with potential customers at the top of the travel planning funnel and work to move them down the booking phase using tourism destination inbound marketing techniques. Interacting with potential travelers can influence their emotions about your destination, and everyone knows how emotions influence decisions!

An even more valuable and very recent addition to Pinterest is the use of Place Pins. Pinterest created ‘place pins’ to combine a picturesque travel magazine look to a useful online map. These ‘place pins’ can even include information such as addresses and phone numbers, making it easy for inspired travelers to seek out their bucket-list travel locations. For tourism destinations, this means that your Pinterest boards take on a whole new meaning. These Place Pins provide a visual plan for visiting your destination, and move your inspired travelers one-step closer to actually planning a visit!

All tourism destinations want to tell their stories and ‘pinning’ images on Pinterest is the best and easiest way to tell these stories in the most basic language known to humankind – pictures! Facebook and Twitter, alone, can not do this for your destination. If you aren’t on Pinterest or need help utilizing it more effectively, here are some great ways to get started. By taking just a few minutes each day to follow these steps, you can start growing your Pinterest audience immediately.

Pin new content. Content can come from a variety of sources – blogs, photos, webinars, slides, eBooks, or website screenshots. Make sure the pin description uses your SEO keywords and that the pin links back to the appropriate page on your main website to encourage increased website traffic. Pick images that will capture visitors and descriptions that tell a unique story about your business or destination. Try not to pin more than five images within five minutes – think quality over quantity!

Monitor your news feed. Start by following relevant pinners. Some great places to start searching would be a local tourism board, other area tourism businesses, local travel enthusiasts, or industry leaders. Once followed, their pins will show up in your news feed. Re-pin anything useful to your relevant boards.

Engage with other pinners. Search out and comment on pins posted by pinners (relevant to your destination and product) who are not yet following your boards. Reply and/or thank pinners who comment on your pins and boards.

Follow your followers. Discover your new followers and start following them. Aim to follow 5 new Pinners each week. Getting to know your followers is an important part of the process, and can help you refine your strategy for reaching your target audience.

Search for your SEO keywords. By searching for your keywords in Pinterest, you can find new pinners to follow or new material to repin. It’s also a great way to keep a pulse on what’s currently inspiring people about your destination or business.

Promote your Pinterest page. Encourage people to start engaging with you on Pinterest by promoting your page on your other social media channels like Facebook and Twitter.

Place your pins. Pinterest is starting to recognize that their brand is very popular among travelers. Just this week, they introduced Place Pins to help travelers more easily “turn their travel inspiration into reality.” By adding your pins on the map, you’ll help future and current travelers connect with the treasures in your destination.

This blog post is from www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/itemlist/tag/Social%20Media%20Marketing

Marketing 3.0Tourism marketing

Whose Place Brand is it Anyway?

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

Some time ago I was reminded of the fragility of place brands and how they need to foster deep community roots from the start of their brand planning process. The marketing manager of a small destination marketing organization (DMO) told me that his city had completed a brand strategy during the past two years which had been well received. But with the arrival of a new Executive Director, they had abandoned the strategy. Fortunately, this was not one of our clients.

This discussion brought home to me that from time to time pivotal people who are essential to the vitality of a destination brand move on. They might be the head of the tourism organization, elected officials, board members, staff or key partners. The result can be that their replacement wants to “do things their way”.

For this reason, it’s important from the earliest stages to ensure that there is continuity in understanding, knowledge, energy and support in regard to the brand strategy.  Of course, it goes without saying that community brands for destinations have to be built following a highly consultative and transparent process. The brand does not belong to any one person or organization. And a new Executive Director should not be empowered to arbitrarily reject a strategy that community members and key stakeholders were engaged in for about eight months. The marketing manager told me that there is now deep cynicism among stakeholders and staff toward starting a new brand planning process just two years after the last effort.

A brand strategy is not the same as an advertising or marketing campaign. The advertising should be designed to reflect the brand and will change from time to time. However, the brand should be based on the enduring essence of the place and not be changed as frequently as an advertising theme. It’s a strategic toolkit and needs to be given the opportunity to develop deep roots, resonance and loyalty.

Importantly, a place brand belongs to everyone in the community to a greater or lesser extent. It should never be established in such a way that it is reliant on one individual.

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

Marketing 3.0storytellingTourism marketing

Is Transmedia Storytelling the New Marketing?

I think it’s safe to say that marketing has changed. Gone are the days of telling your message. It’s all about engagement now. It’s about digital presence. It’s about storytelling. And how you tell that story may make or break your business. But the old way of storytelling may not cut it.

How (and why) is Marketing Changing?

The first thing to understand about marketing today is that it’s all about shared experience. Consumer behavior is radically changing with respect to content consumption. No longer are people consuming most of their content on the TV, a newspaper, or even their computer. Rather, they are using a combination of channels:

rethinkeverything

(image courtesy of Google’s study “Multi-Channel Delivery”)

The need for a consistent experience seems like a no-brainer. If users are interacting with your content/brand/product/message/etc. on one channel and get a different experience on another channel, there’s a chance they will get confused. And a confused customer is one who goes to a competitor. So your approach to delivering that message can’t be “spray and pray.” It has to be targeted and focused, specific to the channel on which it’s being consumed. But that’s only part of the fundamental change to marketing. The other part is how users can engage with the content. Through social media, website comments, live chats, and other methods, users can have a conversation with you around the content. It’s no longer about broadcasting your message. It’s no longer about telling your story and hoping people get it. To sum up these changes:

  1. How: adoption and usage of multiple/simultaneous devices by users has prompted the need for a consistent experience. Marketers must now deliver their message and information across these device families.
  2. Why: digital technologies like web, social media, text messaging, etc. have enabled bi-directional conversation. As more and more users adopt these technologies into their lives, they expect the same thing of companies. No interaction? No customer.

Quick Note: Consistent does not Equal the Same

Developing and delivering a consistent content experience doesn’t mean you publish the same content to each channel. In fact, it might be exactly the opposite. Consistency relates to the messaging, the branding, the positioning, the information, etc. The delivery needs to be unique and specific to the intended device. Here is a great quote from Forrester that epitomizes the need for “differentiated consistency:”

Unified experiences don’t have to be uniform. Customers need experiences that are right-sized for the touchpoint and their context. Instead of focusing on rote uniformity, firms should strive to deliver the necessary parts of an overall experience that uses design patterns, right-sized content and functionality, and appropriate expressions of brand for the user’s context. (Forrester. The Unified Customer Experience Imperative.)

What does that mean in the practical sense? Instead of cramming your desktop website into a mobile phone screen, you might create a specific mobile website with content (and navigation) that is most appealing to the mobile user. Or, it may be a mobile application.

Why is this important? Because it changes the way that marketers tell stories in this new world of multi-device digital engagement.

The Marketer as Storyteller

The idea of the marketer “telling the company story” is not new. In fact, one could argue that it’s Marketing-101. But in the traditional marketing world, that story was unchanging. It was about the company and the brand and, maybe, about how the product was better than the competition. And that story was historically published across all channels in the same manner: on the corporate website, at the bottom of press releases, in the “about” section of a Facebook page. Text stayed the same. Images carried over. And although that is a consistent experience (which is good) it doesn’t follow Forrester’s logic about the need to customize the delivery to the device (which is bad). In order for the story to have the maximum amount of impact, which is what marketers want, the story must appeal to the consumer at the point of consumption (i.e., taking advantage of the specific device through which the consumer is engaging with the story). Marketing stories, then, must break from the traditional model of storytelling in order to take advantage of digital behaviors. I think that might be Transmedia Storytelling.

What is Transmedia Storytelling?

As defined in the Wikipedia article of the same name, Transmedia storytelling…is the technique of telling a single story or story experience across multiple platforms and formats using current digital technologies…From a production standpoint, it involves creating content that engages an audience using various techniques to permeate their daily lives. In order to achieve this engagement, a transmedia production will develop stories across multiple forms of media in order to deliver unique pieces of content in each channel.

There are three key elements here that make Transmedia Storytelling very applicable to the changing landscape of digital marketing of deliver consistent content across multiple devices with opportunities for engagement:

  1. “Story experience” across multiple platforms
  2. “Engages with an audience”
  3. “Deliver unique pieces of content in each channel”

These three points map directly to what I have described previously:

  • User is employing multiple devices, sometimes simultaneously (#1)
  • Digital technologies have created bi-directional interaction (#2)
  • Users need a consistent experience across channels (#1)
  • The consistent experience across devices should be tailed to the device (#3)

So what does a Transmedia Story look like from a marketing perspective? Let’s take a hypothetical example: a new shoe. First, the story that the marketer is going to tell is around the product, not around the company. Digital marketing enables us to tell (and change) new stories quickly. The first part of the story is about someone using the shoe. Imagine a vertically-flowing microsite focusing on a “day-in-the-life-of” (DILO) the shoe (check out  http://pestproject.orkin.com as an example of what an engaging, vertically-flowing microsite might look like, just the shoe instead of bugs). This is published to the web but with a responsive design for delivery to tablets and smartphones. The second part of the story are the sounds of the shoe running through mud, dirt, concrete, water, etc. These are delivered as sound bites that are linked to QR codes found on print images of the shoe. The third part is an interactive application for mobile phones that enables people to build and customize their own shoe, drawing in some of the same content from the microsite. The fourth part is a video featuring the shoe worn in different conditions by a bunch of different people. It’s published on YouTube and is shot like a documentary. The final part is a print campaign that includes the smell of the new shoe with different elements that can be captured from a camera phone and lead to different parts of the microsite story.

In this example, each part of the story has its own narrative. But together, they link to create a consistent, multi-sensory story on all aspects of the shoe that crosses channels with a elements designed to engage on multiple fronts and specific to devices. And there are ways to extend that Transmedia story about the shoe to user-generated content. For example, maybe there is technology in the shoe that links it to the phone (or an app on the phone) so that a person’s use of the shoe can influence the story of the shoe as a whole (with data).

What’s the Business Impact?

I think the jury is out on that right now. Although there are behavioral trends to show that Transmedia Storytelling might be the best framework for the future of digital marketing, it’s difficult to asses how it impacts ZMOT or other KPIs. But regardless of business impact, using transmedia narrative techniques will probably lead to more viral activity around the story as well as opportunities to engage with customers and prospects. The down side is they probably take longer to coordinate.

The use of Transmedia Storytelling was probably never intended for marketing. It was meant as a framework for telling narrative stories (i.e., fiction and non-fiction) across devices in a digital age. But as marketers continue to adopt the role of “storyteller” in a world where users are engaging with their content across multiple devices, it seems that a framework like Transmedia Storytelling might be the best solution to organizing that content into a cohesive story that appeals to this new generation of consumers.

This blog post is from  www.rethinkeverythingblog.com/2017/08/31/is-transmedia-storytelling-the-new-digital-marketing/

Marketing 3.0Tourism marketing

Why Isn’t Anyone Supporting our City Brand?

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

In recent months I fielded calls from two frustrated CEO’s of DMOs, one in Australia and one in the USA with the same question, “why isn’t anyone supporting our new brand?” Both had launched their brands about 3 years ago and were finding that their DMO was the only organization making reference to the brand. Adding to their frustration was that local partners were continuing to dilute their city’s brand message by not focusing on what they considered to be their brand strengths.

It seems that both brands were originally created by agencies that only engaged a small number of stakeholders in the process. Additionally, the DMOs received nothing more than a logo, tagline and guidelines for correctly using the logo and visual identity. Of course these are important parts of the toolkit, but it takes much more than that.

Both locations are now refreshing the brands by developing more robust brand management tools and stakeholder engagement which include:

  • Product development and experience delivery sessions to gain their support of partners in bringing the brand to life;
  • Partner guidelines for creatively and correctly communicating and using the brand;
  • Brand education coaching for staff, partners and marketing vendors;
  • Outreach programs to engage, inform and energize partners to use the brand;
  • A comprehensive brand manual to aid current and future staff and partners.

The two DMOs I spoke to could have avoided their brand acceptance problems if their original processes had considered the need to generate stakeholder buy-in and support from the very start of the project. At the heart of the problem was the need to have been more alert to avoiding the narrow confines of considering their brand to being simply a logo and tagline. The reality is that successful place brands demand a highly consultative process and ultimately a comprehensive toolkit and outreach that will enable brand managers to rally the support of partners, stimulate the design of brand experiences and foster synergy from across the community.

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

Business trendsIntelligenceMarketing 3.0StrategyTourism marketing

Key Takeaways from #SoMeT13US, the Social Media Tourism Symposium

When I moved to Huntsville, Alabama, as a surly teenager in the mid-90s, I never thought I’d be returning 17 years later to attend a professional conference on social media and tourism. Mainly because there was no such thing as social media then and I was largely consumed by door slamming, journal writing, and comic books. And, to be honest, I thought Huntsville was a drag.

Things have changed. Huntsville’s CVB proved that Rocket City USA has legitimate tourism cred and serious social media chops.

The Social Media Tourism Symposium, referred to as #SoMeT in both Twitter and spoken parlance (soh-mee-tee), is an annual conference hosted by Think! Social Media that brings together the best and brightest tourism marketers. Each year, the conference’s location is crowd sourced online. The perspective attendees vote in a bracket-style competition for which destination is best suited to host the pack of social media nerds and tourism geeks. Huntsville triumphed over much larger and more convention-y places like Indianapolis, Cleveland, and St. Pete’s.

Huntsville’s process to win #SoMeT13US became a case study used throughout #SoMeT13US to highlight new trends at the intersection of social media and tourism. It was really inspiring. Here are a couple themes that emerged from #SoMeT13US and Huntsville’s selection as host that were especially relevant.

1. The DMO is dead. All hail the DMO.

Destination marketing alone is not enough. Comprehensive destination management is what’s needed. Hey this sounds familiar! (I’m looking at you DMAI).

As Fred Ranger of Tourisme Montreal put it, “destination marketing has been about brand expression. Destination management is focused on the brand experience.” The visitor’s online experience during their dreaming and planning phase is just as important as their offline experience when they arrive – and the DMO/CVB has a critical role to play. In Huntsville’s quest to land #SoMeT13US they blasted their social networks with calls-to-action. But it was their offline work that pushed them over the finish line: they deployed street teams to educate and engage locals and visitors and posted signs in highly-trafficked areas. The campaign might have been born on Facebook and Twitter, but it lived and thrived with real-life people-to-people contact. This took work and planning and investment and it wasn’t easy, but it was successful.

2. Less Volume, Better Engagement

We’ve come to a beautiful time as social media marketers where we can focus on quality not quantity.

I presented a case study of our work in Namibia where we realized very quickly that our destination was highly specialized and creating a huge online community was not in the cards. And that was okay. Because, the people that are attracted to Namibia are the super-enthusiastic people that are social media dreams. The online community growth has started to slow, but the level of engagement continues to get deeper and deeper. We’re able to get to know our community and give them the kind of content that they’re looking for – the kind of content they want to own and share with their networks. We also know that these folks are the ones who return time and time again to Namibia and try to get their friends to come along. We can use our social platforms to communicate directly to the dune hikers, the rhino lovers, the extreme photographers. We’re not trying to create campaigns for Johnny McCarnivalCruise or Sarah O’AllInclusive. We want to speak directly to Namibia’s biggest fans and give them every possible reason to book a trip.

Mack Collier thinks you should probably be more like Taylor Swift. Or Johnny Cash. Or Lady Gaga. Basically, any kind of “rock star” – because they understand the importance of developing real connection with their fans. Incentives for the “superfans” doubles down on engagement and creates newsworthy opportunities to re-connect with casual participants.

Fred Ranger also spoke about how typical ROI should be replaced with RQE – return on the quality of engagement. Reporting on the number of Facebook fans, Twitter followers, are good… but are you actually creating brand interest and  attracting visitors to your destination? Measuring this is easier said then done, but it’s getting better. And if social media wants to start justifying the same kind of cash that traditional tourism marketing is pulling – then we need to think about conversions.

3. If Content is King, then… this Metaphor is Hard. Be Smart with Your Content.

So, how dow we create conversions? My delicate vocabulary sensibilities were assaulted when Tom Martin threw “propinquity” at me all willy-nilly. If you consult your SAT vocabulary flash cards, you’ll be reminded that propinquity means proximity and similarity. As tourism marketers, we can get lost in inspiration. The idea is that your main content piece – be it a video or blog post – should be complimented with actionable, related content. Someone is really digging a post on your new bike trails? Give them a call-to-action to book a bike tour.

This idea isn’t new: think the popup boxes on YouTube or Amazon’s “You Might Also Like” feature. This inbound marketing strategy is an important component of successful tourism websites and new flexible website designs means there’s no excuse to turn your destination site into an opportunity for sales.

Inbound marketing is content driven. Many of us create content calendars that include hundreds of individual posts – all with an active shelf life of a couple of days. We come up with ideas and then distribute them. Tom waves his finger at us. Tsk Tsk.  “Every content piece should be re-purposed at least three times.” Invert your content creation strategy: think first about all the places the content live (affinity blogs, media placements, newsletters) and then build your content from the ground up. Once the main piece has been create, disassemble and distribute.

4. This isn’t Easy.

Peppered throughout the successes, were plenty of stories of failures. Sometimes ideas that are hammered out in a conference room, that seem perfectly logical, fall flat. Social media is people driven and people – jeez – they can be fickle. Platforms can change on a dime (I’m looking at you Foursquare badges), what you ask your community to do can be two clicks too onerous, and sometimes – something more shiny pops up somewhere else. Playing it safe doesn’t work – it’s important to take risks and try something new.

As two novice spacemen from MMGY remind us, “Proceed and Be Bold.”

Check this video in Youtube    https://youtu.be/K9ZPHrnoBXc

Article reposted with permission from www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/itemlist/tag/Social%20Media%20Marketing

Marketing 3.0storytellingTourism marketing

The 9 “C”s of Awesome Storytelling

You want to tell stories to your digital audiences. No, really, I’m telling you that you want to. In fact, you have to. There’s just too much noise out there to continue broadcasting your message. You’ve got to get intimate with your audience. Digital enables you to form powerful one-on-one relationships with your audience, and the best way to do that is through stories.

I recently gave a presentation at the Content2Conversion conference in New York in April that explored not only why this is important, but how to also make your own stories more impactful, meaningful, and ultimately, more engaging by adhering to 9 best practices. Click on the video to watch a recorded broadcast of the presentation. I’ve also included some bullet points that capture the high level points communicated as part of the presentation and will be posting the slides from Slideshare soon.

And here are the high-level points in that presentation (in case you’ve already watched and just want those 9 Cs again; I’ve even bolded them):

  1. Stories are important
  2. Stories are containers for ideas that are easier to communicate when they are framed as a story. Example: traveling by yourself in the forest as a young child (which is a metaphor for the world) without parents or help can be dangerous because there are a lot of “wolves” out there. AKA, Little Red Riding Hood.
  3. Stories evoke emotion. They make us laugh. They make us cry. They move us to action.
  4. Movies are great examples of stories.
  5. Digital changes everything by enabling stories with videos and images. By extending stories into cross-channel/multi-channel experiences (i.e., transmedia).
  6. Digital supercharges stories to engage and improve intimacy
  7. What makes a good story digitally for business?
  8. #1: Connected. Stories have to connect us to other people. They have to involve us in a “shared” experience (no matter how much Facebook wants us to think we are the center of the digital universe, we really aren’t)
  9. #2: Committed. Embracing storytelling isn’t a “one-and-done” mentality. Coca Cola has committed tens of millions of dollars to reshaping the way they engage and interact with audiences through content. It has to be a life-long change.
  10. #3: Customer. The story has to be about the customer. Period. It can’t be about your product or your company.
  11. #4: Character. The story has to have a character. That’s with whom the audience forms an emotional bond. They have to be in conflict. They have to have something to lose.
  12. #5: Crescendo. The story has to have an ending. It has to wrap up somehow. You can’t leave audiences hanging.
  13. #6: aCountable. The story has to be driven by numbers. If there’s no way to see where users disengage, no way to measure how effective the story is, then it doesn’t really serve any business purpose.
  14. #7: Consistent. Users are on multiple devices every day. The story has to not only be available on all of them but has to be consistent across it. You can’t tell one story to one device and a different one to another. Branding, look and feel, style, tone. The experience has to be consistent.
  15. #8: Conversion. The story ultimately has to convert audience members to customers. Otherwise, you are just wasting your breath.
  16. #9. cEmotional. Stories have to be emotional. They have to elicit a reaction from the audience. Laughter. Crying. Shaking a fist. If the story fails to connect with an audience emotionally, they will forget it, and all your storytelling hard work will be for naught.
  17. Stories are strung together with a narrative arc. That’s what drives emotion. When a character has something to lose, there’s a conflict to not lose it, and then there’s a resolution (either losing it or not losing it).
  18. Stories evoke emotions. Biologically when our brains encounter a narrative arc (and we follow it) endorphins are released. There is a biological and chemical reaction that humans have to storytelling. That’s powerful.
  19. Stories help us engage with audiences. Ultimately, they help us become more intimate with our audiences.
  20. There’s a way to speed that up, though. It’s video.
  21. There’s a “level of relationship” pyramid.
    1. At the bottom is awareness. Your audience knows who you are, but they don’t even think about you. I know who Starbucks is, but I don’t go into their stores.
    2. Next is acquaintance. Maybe I would go into Starbucks if I was wandering down the street, suddenly wanted coffee, and that happened to be the only coffee shop in 10 miles.
    3. After that is friend. When I think coffee, I think Starbucks usually. I’ll branch out, just based on convenience (there’s a Dunkin Donuts right down the road, but Starbucks is a mile past that; yeah, I’m not traveling the extra mile). I do appreciate Starbucks product and their company. In fact, I like their Facebook page and sometimes check out their website for new stuff.
    4. After friend is confidante. If I am a confidante, I’m sharing info with Starbucks who is trying to personalize my experience. Maybe it’s through their reward card. I actively seek them out for my coffee fix. I might even walk a little further down the road to get to one. When I’m on Google maps, I don’t search for “coffee shops” I search for “Starbucks.”
    5. Finally, there is BFF. Every marketer wants every one of their audience to be BFFs. If I was Starbucks’ BFF I would get into fist fights with people who dared to say that Dunkin Donuts’ coffee was better. I wear Starbucks apparel. I am active in their Facebook conversations. I share my Starbucks experiences with them. I am a loyal reward member and have provided lots of information to Starbucks that they use to make my experience with their digital presence and retail locations more personalized.
  22. Video gets you to BFF faster because it helps accelerate engagement. When it’s combined with storytelling that means faster emotional connection.

– Jason Thibeault, Sr. Director, Marketing Strategy. You can connect with Jason on Twitter @_jasonthibeault.

This blog post is from www.rethinkeverythingblog.com/2017/10/16/the-9-cs-of-awesome-storytelling/