Category: Strategy

Strategy planning, strategy execution and business model design focused on collaborative modelling

Business trendsCo-creationCollaborative cultureEnvironmental sustainabilityInnovation

Envisioning Alternate Reality Games for marketing destinations

Unlike Augmented Reality Games, Alternate Reality Games (ARG) are not mobile based but transmedia based and much cheaper to create. ARG cannot be explicitly a marketing product, but rather a marketing strategy, which turns into an experience itself and could be indirectly considered as a marketing product, so long as they are usually free although sometimes they end up involving some business too. They stand out by offering best practices in collaborative learning and problem solving, having been object of attention by scholars, private and public organizations for that reason. ARG design requires many different skills, and there are actually several profiles matching that role, such as storytellers, web designers, and puzzle creators, to shortlist the main ones.

ARG deny the difference between the real and the game world. Actually, the game takes place for those who discover that something is going on in the real world beyond the obvious, by identifying some codified information and decodifying it to figure the clues to start playing. Another unique feature of ARG is that there is no other marketing than word of mouth from players, who look for other players to help them in tackling the game’s challenges. These games rely on knowledge sharing among players to solve the challenges and use the internet as a platform for sharing knowledge, although the game uses all types of media to provide the information to the players. The game works like an interactive networked narrative using the real world as the game board and many different media channels to deliver clues and the story that is eventually co-created by the organizers and the players.

The games are driven by a story that takes place in real time and is developed through the contribution and reaction of the players. The story characters are controlled by the game designers –unlike computer games, where characters are controlled by artificial intelligence- and interact with players, solving plot-based challenges and puzzles through collaboration by analyzing the story and coordinating real-life and online activities. Players discover the story researching just as archeologists would, as the story is split into pieces throughout the media channels to challenge players in connecting those story pieces to make a coherent narrative. The game uses players’ real live as the platform, players not being required to build a character other than themselves. The game designers control most of the story but leave some room for contribution to the players, who end up being co-creators of the story to some extent. Furthermore, so long as the game evolves demanding more complex challenges, players need to recruit new co-players with specific skills or expertise. ARG have become a genre of gaming themselves, not just a one-time occurrence, as it appeared to be at first.

ARG are usually free to play, using various kinds of revenue sources such as supporting products or marketing deals with existing products. In the case of tourism, the price to pay would be that associated to visiting the destination, without discarding other sources such as marketing deals with brands that want to be associated with the destination brand to target players as potential customers. Actually, after the first successful ARG had appeared, many corporations started regarding such games as a potential marketing strategy to promote their business as an innovative and fan-friendly strategy. So far, the major trends regarding the funding strategy for large-scale ARGs are the development of game-branded products and also fees for participation in the game.

Curiously, beyond the games created for fun only purposes, the so called “Serious ARG” have also emerged, consisting of the same structure and functioning way but with a real-world problem as a driving challenge instead of a fictional one. The first one –World Without Oil– was centered about the vision of a world with shortage of oil, and others such as Tomorrow Calling tackle many environmental issues. This type of ARG approaches the idea –ingrained in the Vision of Tourism 3.0- of open innovation for tackling the social and environmental challenges, so long as ARGs are focused on collaborative problem solving, leveraging the collective intelligence, knowledge and imagination to design innovative solutions. The “Serious ARG” approach works as a marketing strategy to attract and engage contributors through the shape of a game.

So far, the ARG phenomenon has already reached millions of players in more than 177 countries, who participate both online and in live events in the streets. There is even an award at IndieCade for games that have a social message, shift the social perception of games as a medium, represent a new play paradigm, expand the audience or influence culture.

Moreover, there have been organized some ARG directly related to the tourism industry. In 2008, the American Art Museum organised an ARG called Ghosts of a Chance encouraging players to find new ways to engage with their art collection, attracting more than 6000 participants over six weeks. At the same year, McDonald’s and the International Olympic Committee launched an ARG to promote the Summer Olympics of Beijing, facilitating the participation of players from different countries running the game in 6 languages, and encouraging players to share information and interact with fellow co-players overseas. They used a sport celebrity as Game Master to promote the game and promised to donate US$ 100,000 to charity at the end of the game on behalf of players.

Prototypes such as those presented for Augmented Reality Games could be useful for Alternate Reality Games, namely the “Worldwide ARG tournament calendar”, the “Film story or local legend based game”, and mostly the “Collaborative challenge based game”, without discarding other options. Rather, inspiration should come from the “Serious ARGs” focused on tackling real-world challenges.

The ARG can therefore become a good strategy to find and engage new targets, neutralize tourism demand seasonality and also create long lasting positive impacts both for the visitors –through the life-changing experience provided by the game itself- and for the destination, so long as the game challenge is related to some of the social or environmental concerns of the destination stakeholders.

StrategyStrategy planning & execution

Competitive strategy development

This article is written by Robert Pratten, CEO at Conducttr, founder of Transmedia Storyteller Ltd. and blogger

Plans implemented without a rigorous challenge to the rationale and assumptions behind them run the risk of falling apart. Failure can be costly.

Considering a market entry strategy, for example, a business might make assumptions about how the incumbent will react only to find it is better prepared to fend off new entrants: the incumbent is quicker to discount and bundle its products and it exercises its influence to stall the new entrant’s distribution. Shouldn’t this reaction have been anticipated?

Now imagine using Competitive Strategy Development (CSD): the business creates two teams – one the new entrant and one the incumbent – and they challenge each other over a series of turns. No complicated and expensive market simulation is needed, just the intelligence of the opposing teams and a way to represent the market.

Maybe the exercise is about capturing the airwaves, capturing hearts and minds or capturing shelf space. Whenever battleground, CSD can be easily adapted to develop plans with better critical thinking and commercial resilience. At the end of the strategy session the teams will share their experience of competing against each other: not only the technical approaches but also the mindset, the feelings, the expectations.

It’s always about the people

Earlier this week we demonstrated our Black Swan strategy development suite (so called because of its intention to get teams thinking about the unknowable unknowns) using a scenario based around the arctic circle and the competition for natural resources there. The combination of old school physical cards and counters with technology serves several purposes:

  • Faster to implement
  • Greater immersion
  • Faster review
  • Detailed post-exercise decision analysis.

Placing teams in different rooms or in different parts of the world, they are unable to see the definitive moves made by their opponent and instead must experience their competitor’s tactics as they would in real life – via social media and public news media.

As the exercise unfolds, our storytelling technology generates simulated social media posts and TV reports while all the time allowing the exercise director to interject with her own “live” unscripted simu-tweets and TV reports.

As each adversary makes a move, we used our Android mobile app and NFC-encoded cards to quickly codify the decisions. Scanned cards reduce the time needed to document developments and ensure consistency and contemporaneous data (which is captured on an exercise timeline).

Conclusion

Plans developed in a vacuum usually wither and die at first breath. Far better then to have competing teams develop real implementable market strategies in an adversarial exercise. This approach will ensure more thoughtful, resilient and defendable approaches for the real world.

This article has been reposted with permission from http://www.tstoryteller.com/competitive-strategy-development

Marketing 3.0StrategySustainabilityThird sector and social sustainability

Sustainable Tourism Development: Helping Revive Post-Conflict Destinations

One of the greatest and perhaps least recognized aspects of the sustainable tourism industry is the potential for economic growth and peace building in post conflict areas of the world. Working in these areas proves that not only does sustainable tourism have the incredible ability to preserve natural and cultural resources, but it can play a key role in the revival of economies and communities shattered by conflict.

The State of Tourism in post conflict areas

Some of the major problems faced by post conflict destinations are security based. The first hurdle in the revival of the tourism industry is making sure the destination is absolutely safe for visitors and pushing that message consistently across all channels of communication.

Another issue that arises in regard to security is rebuilding the destination’s image, as these locations are often perceived as degraded during times of conflict and violence.  It’s important to highlight that a destination’s cultural and natural heritage is alive and well by sharing high quality content about the destination, such as images, videos and copy.

The second set of issues facing post conflict destinations relates to infrastructure and human capital. Many times, after a long-lasting conflict like the civil war in Sri Lanka, many forms of infrastructure and many of the industries that service tourists are in poor condition, making it difficult for them to visit in a number of ways. For example, in some areas, roads may have become impassable; buildings may be dilapidated and need to be rebuilt. In order to sustain a tourism industry, these areas need rebuilding and basic resources restructured in order to revive their destination’s appeal and functionality.

How to restart the tourism activity

When setting goals for these destinations it is convenient to mirror that of a brand new, undiscovered destination, even if they had a tourism industry before the conflict. Through clear and coordinated communication between all stakeholders, the first phase of these strategies focuses on building the structures necessary to sustain the tourism industry.

A great way to kick start the tourism presence in these areas is to focus on regions that have not been affected by the conflict. A good approach is to promote off the beaten path, adventurous destinations and target tourists who are interested in those types of places. In each destination this might look different, but strategic marketing and promotion allows for such burgeoning markets to flourish.

Benefits & Outcomes

First and foremost, tourism in these countries means an influential source of capital. It provides economic opportunity through employment, ownership of businesses, and an increased market size. It also perpetuates personal and community empowerment by offering renewed opportunities for self-sustaining businesses and economies.

Tourism can also play a key role in reconciliation. It often unites communities that may have been broken or displaced during conflict around common interests and goals, fostering a sense of peace and cooperation that may not otherwise occur. In some cases, tourism can contribute to preventing the revival of a conflict in destinations with increasingly well-established tourism industries, as it contributes to a virtuous cycle of development and economic growth that would be threatened by the renewal of violence.

By rebuilding and strengthening culture, economy, and infrastructure, the tourism industry provides post conflict regions a chance to make a statement about their future to the world. These communities are able to showcase their homes as more than just what people see on TV news.

This article has been re-posted with permission from www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/itemlist/tag/Geotourism%20Program%20with%20National%20Geographic

Business trendsMarketing 3.0storytellingStrategyTourism marketing

How Pokemon Go can inspire tourism experiences: envisioning augmented reality in destinations (I)

As many of you already know Pokemon Go is one of the most popular Augmented reality games, where a fiction world with many kinds of monsters overlays the real world through the smartphone screen. No matter how unreal do the monsters appear to be, game players end up behaving as if they were real, as fiction and reality merge in their minds.

Somehow, the augmented reality game creates a new reality overlaying the real that gets players to act in the way the game wants them to. It is therefore interesting to imagine how this game could be reframed or just how this technology could be used to move players to take action on a more meaningful purpose such as contribution to a social or environmental challenge. So long as we make sense of the world through stories, creating or using an existing story and developing an Augmented reality game to let the individuals become an active part of the story may turn out to be a truly powerful tourism experience.

Moreover, so long as the story and the game are focused on a mission related to social or environmental concerns, they end up being a very creative and effective way to move people to take action in favor of such concerns. As we have read in previous articles, stories that have a message and inspire contribution are like intangible gold, and Augmented reality games can make them even more powerful to create the desired impact.

Stories can be leveraged from legends, novels, films, history and may serve as a framework to create a gaming experience, especially for the younger generations who are keener on digital game playing, as a conveyor to learn history or sciences of the environment, for instance. In the case of theme parks, amusement parks, zoos, and other themed leisure and entertainment attractions, Augmented reality games should rather be inspired by videogames with characters related to the theme.

Needless to say, such games should be limited to car free areas, so long as the players usually lose sight of the “physical reality” and so become unaware of the real dangers, namely vehicles. In the first case, related to historical or environmental heritage, the game ground could be a monumental area, an old town, a preserved area (natural park) or even a museum.

The upcoming articles are to bring more insights about Augmented reality, Alternate reality and Mixed reality as drivers for destination experiences.

Marketing 3.0StrategyStrategy planning & executionTourism marketing

7 Components of a Great Integrated Marketing Program

What is integrated marketing & why does it matter?

Integrated Marketing is a strategy that reinforces your company’s ultimate message and is consistent across all communication platforms. It is important because consumers are present online as well as offline. In the tourism industry, in order to be competitive, you need to be where the traveler is and create relevant content that travelers trust. Unifying all channels of communication is key to having an effective marketing plan.

Here are 7 key components of a great marketing program:

+ Brand Analysis – Prior to implementing a campaign, it is necessary to carry out a brand analysis containing actionable recommendations to improve your look and focus your message. Our in-house design team can also help you update or refresh your current brand and logo.

+ Marketing Strategy – After a thorough analysis, an integrated marketing strategy is developed and will serve as a roadmap for the implementation of the integrated marketing program, which is tailored to the needs of a specific consumer. The strategy will integrate current and targeted use of all channels: social media, search engine optimization, blogging, content, public relations and trade relations.

+ 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. Developing a content calendar and assigning content generation responsibilities will help you decide the type of content to post, where you will post it and how frequently. Finally, try to engage your team, so that everyone participates in the content generation process.

+ Social Media Strategy and Blogging – Social media gives you a place to talk to your consumers before they travel, while they’re on their trip and after they have returned. Social media strategy encompasses social networks, blogs, micro-blogging sites and third party sites. You should determine the best channels to use for your target markets, and what content to post.

+ Creative Campaigns – With all pieces of your marketing foundation in place, it is convenient implement a series of 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.

+ PR/Media Outreach Strategy – In this point you should employ simple but effective monitoring tools and indicators 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. You should also develop a database of contacts and design effective outreach campaigns to reach local and international media, relevant bloggers, guidebooks and sales intermediaries

+ Trade Distribution Strategy – If you work with business to business sales, you should try 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.

A great example of an Integrated Marketing project is the Namibia Online Campaign. The goal of this campaign was to ensure the necessary tools and capacity to combine online marketing activities with their current overall marketing strategy.

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

Culture changeMarketing 3.0StrategyStrategy planning & execution

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

Beyond the key ideas of the Tipping point’s theory exposed in the previous articles, there are some case studies that showcase how this theory comes into practice in the real world.

The diffusion model is an academic model of looking at how a contagious idea or innovation moves through a population. For instance, when the hybrid seed was launched to the market, the group of farmers who started trying it at first were the Innovators. The slightly larger group who were convinced by them were “the early adopters”. They were the opinion leaders in the community, a group of respected and thoughtful people who watched and analyzed what those Innovators were doing and eventually decided to follow. After them came the Early Majority and the Late Majority, the deliberate and the skeptical mass, who would never try anything until the most respected ones had tried it first. Finally there came the Laggards, the most conservative of all, who see no urgent reason to change. Plotting that progression on a graph, it forms a perfect epidemic curve –starting slowly, tipping just as the Early Adopters start using the seed, then rising sharply as the Majority catches on.

But many times the contagious spread of a new idea is actually quite tricky. There is a substantial difference between the people who originate trends and ideas, and the people in the Majority group who eventually adopt them. These two groups may be next to each other on the word-of-mouth continuum. But they don’t communicate particularly well. The first two groups –the Innovators and Early Adopters- are visionaries. They want revolutionary change, something that sets them apart qualitatively from their competitors. They are the people who buy brand-new technology, before it’s been perfected or even proved, or before the price has gone down. They usually have small companies and are just starting out, willing to take enormous risks.

The Early Majority, instead, are big companies. They have to worry about any change fitting into their complex business structure. If the goal of visionaries is to make a quantum leap forward, the goal of pragmatists is to make a incremental improvement, some measurable and predictable progress. The word risk is negative in their vocabulary.

Innovations don’t just slide effortlessly from one group to the next. There is a huge gap between them. Actually, all kinds of high-tech products fail, never making it beyond the Early Adopters, because the companies that make them are not always able to scale them to the mainstream market, just because it’s not appealing enough to the Early Majority.

Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen are those who make it possible for innovations to bridge over the gap between both groups. They translate ideas and information from the highly specialized world of the innovators into a mainstream language that everybody can understand. What they do is to highlight the aspects that most matter to the audience, exemplifying through storytelling how the idea could change their lives, dropping the unnecessary information and technical details that could only lead to confusion.

The Innovators fit a different personality type. They feel different. If you ask people what worries them the most, the trendsetters pick up on bigger-picture things, whereas the mainstream people think about being overweight, or how well they are doing at work. They are passionate activists to some extent.

Conclusion

When trying to use the Tipping Point theory to craft a strategy to create some kind of social epidemics, like engaging and gaining stakeholder support to the destination business model, is that efforts have to be concentrated in three groups of people: Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen, so long as they are responsible for starting word-of-mouth epidemics.

We then have to prepare a message that sticks, which can actually be a story, no matter how short we make it. The learning outcomes of the storytelling technique from previous articles and Whitepapers are essential to understand how the human psychology works in order to create emotional connections with our target audience and move them to take action in the direction we want.

We finally have to understand the power of context, that regardless of our thinking about ourselves as autonomous and inner-directed, we are actually strongly influenced by our social and physical environment, and so all the environment factors matter when preparing for the tipping point to happen.

It’s particularly interesting to take into account the rule of 150 when choosing the target audience, so long as it can be split into blocks in accordance with this parameter, to ensure its receptivity to the message. Working thoughtfully on these points we can shape the course of social epidemics. In the end, Tipping Points are no more than a reaffirmation of the potential for change and the power of intelligent action.

If you are interested in further insights about this topic, I strongly recommend you to read Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point”, where you will also find many case studies that illustrate all the concepts and theories among other interesting content.

Marketing 3.0StrategyTourism marketing

Fifteen Common Place Branding Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

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

Adopting a city brand offers tremendous rewards if done correctly. However, sometimes these well-meaning efforts introduce levels of complexity and pitfalls which could easily have been avoided if leaders had understood the nuances of brand planning for cities.

Many city branding projects get off to a great start with a lot of publicity and energy, only to soon run out of steam. Their momentum starts to lag, fresh ideas are not as frequent, designs start to miss their mark, and suddenly the brand has faded, it is confused, and becomes very fuzzy to customers and stakeholders. Here are some of the fifteen common pitfalls that can contribute to these situations are:

  1. Insufficient Understanding Of Branding
  2. Lack of Stakeholder Buy-in
  3. Failure to Grasp the Scope of Branding
  4. Focusing On Short-Term Results
  5. Forgetting The Customer’s View
  6. Disagreeing What is Being Branded
  7. Insufficient or Irrelevant Research
  8. The Weak Positioning Trap
  9. Not Following the Strategy
  10. The Lure of “Bright Shiny Objects”
  11. Forgetting to Deliver What You Promise
  12. Unhelpful Mindsets
  13. Brand Fatigue
  14. Going It Alone as a DIY Project
  15. Not Engaging Specialist Skills

This article has been 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 (III)

Following with the second article presenting the Tipping point theory, where the “Stickiness factor” was explained, this third article explains the third key success factors to reach a Tipping point: the power of context.

The power of context

Social epidemics are very sensitive to the environment and the circumstances of the times in which they occur. The key idea of the power of context is that people are more than just sensitive to changes in context. And the kinds of contextual changes capable of tipping an epidemic are very different than we might ordinarily suspect.

For instance, Wilson and Kelling argued that crime is an inevitable result of disorder. If a window is broken and left unrepaired, people walking by will think that no one cares. Soon, more windows are likely to be broken, and the sense of anarchy spreads out from the building to the whole street, and further to the rest of the district, sending a message that anything goes.

The Tipping Point in this epidemic it’s something physical like graffiti. The motivation to engage in a certain kind of behavior is not necessarily coming from a certain kind of person but also from a feature of the environment. The essence of the Power of context is that our inner states are the result of our outer circumstances.

Thinking about “How much influence does immediate environment have on the way people behave?”, Philip Zimbardo –from Stanford University- concluded that there are certain times, places and conditions when our inherent predispositions can be swept away, and that there are circumstances where you can take normal people from good schools and happy families and good neighborhoods and powerfully affect their behavior just by changing the immediate details of their situation.

What this study suggests is that the convictions of our heart and our thoughts are eventually less important in guiding our actions than the immediate context of our behavior. Environmental Tipping Points are things that can be changed: we can fix broken windows and clean up graffiti and change the signals that first invite to vandalism or other kind of undesirable behavior.

Judith Harris has convincingly argued that peer influence and community influence are more important than family influence in determining how children behave. Their behavior is powerfully shaped by the environment out of their family, and the features of their immediate social and physical world –the streets they walk down, the people they encounter –play a huge role in shaping who they are and how they act.

More specifically, hereby we analyze the critical role that groups play in social epidemics. Psychologists say that when people are asked to make decisions in a group, they come to very different resolutions than when they are asked the same by themselves. When we’re part of a group, we’re all susceptible to peer pressure and social norms and other kinds of influence that play a critical role in sweeping us up in the beginnings of an epidemic.

The spread of any new and contagious idea also has a lot to do with the skillful use of group power. It’s easier to remember and appreciate something if you discuss it for two hours with your friends. Then it becomes a social experience and an object of conversation. On the other hand, peer pressure is much more powerful than a concept of a boss. People want to live up to what is expected from them. When each person has a group-acknowledged responsibility for particular tasks and facts, greater efficiency is inevitable.

The rule of 150 is an interesting example of the strange and incredible ways in which context affects the course of social epidemics. There is a concept in cognitive psychology called the channel capacity, referring to the amount of space in our brain for specific kinds of information. We have a channel capacity for feelings, and there is also what could be called social channel capacity. So what does correlate with brain size? According British anthropologist Robin Dunbar social group size is what correlates with the size of our brain. If you look at any species of primate the larger their neocortex is, the larger the average size of the groups they live with.

Dunbar’s argument is that brains evolve, they get bigger, in order to handle the complexities of larger social groups. If you belong to a group of five people, then you have to keep track of ten separate relationships: your relationships with the four others in your circle and the six other two-way relationships between the others. That’s what it takes to know everyone in the social circle.

Humans socialize in the largest groups of all primates because we are the only animals with brains large enough to handle the complexities of that social arrangement. Keeping things under 150 has proved to be the most efficient and effective way to manage a group of people. When the group gets larger than that, people become strangers to one another. They’re knit together, which is very important if you want to be effective and successful at community life. If you get too large, you don’t have enough things in common, and then you start to become strangers to one another and that close-knit fellowship starts to get lost. Above the 150 Tipping Point, there begin to be structural impediments to the ability of the group to agree and act with one voice.

If you are interested in further insights about this topic, I strongly recommend you to read Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point”, where you will also find many case studies that illustrate all the concepts and theories among other interesting content.

Culture changeStrategyStrategy planning & execution

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

Following with the first article where the Tipping point theory was introduced, and the first point “The law of the few” was explained, this second article explains the second key success factor to reach a Tipping point: the stickiness factor.

The stickiness factor

Whereas the law of the few focuses on the nature of the messenger, the stickiness factor puts the focus on the content of the message and its capacity to become compelling, practical and personal. Only then it becomes memorable. As I explained in the Whitepaper “Marketing destinations through storytelling”, where the secret of successful stories was revealed, crafting a compelling story is an art, attainable only for especially talented individuals. This applies to the messages too, to make them stick.

To figure out how to create sticky messages, we should further deep into the storytelling technique. First of all, why do we like stories? We like them because they provide answers to our lives and a mechanism to shape our identity by connecting with the story characters. We connect emotionally with the story characters as long as they have similar challenges and values, and thus we regard them as a representation of ourselves. Stories not only help us building our identity but also work like social glue, as they help us in connecting with others and building relationships. Stories are the most effective way to create an emotional connection between brands and consumers.

Further, humans process information more efficiently when this is delivered through a story, and therefore this information is more likely to be remembered in the form of a story.

Stories can change our way of thinking and influence our feelings. They can drive an organizational culture change by opening people’s minds and building capacity of mutual understanding to enhance cooperation. They also have the power to make people envision a better future and how to overcome all the obstacles. Stories are pull strategy, as they allow people to decide by themselves, which is a key success factor of effective influence.

The art of persuasion consists on uniting ideas with emotions, and emotions are best conveyed through the form of a compelling story. Arousing the audience’s emotions spurs energy in them and moves them to take action. This is the power of storytelling.

Compelling stories are those that not only move people to share and take action but also engage the audience in a way that they are willing to follow up with the story with more chapters. Such kinds of stories are like the marketing diamond all marketers dream of, because they not only boost conversions, but also virality and customer loyalty.

To sum it up, as Aristoteles said, compelling stories need to have ethical appeal, emotional appeal and logical appeal to connect with the mind, heart and human spirit of the audience. Beyond the story itself, skilled storytellers have the ability to connect with the audience and convey the emotions embedded in the story. How the message is delivered is as much important as the content of the message itself. By telling the story with passion, enthusiasm and expression, the audience is more likely to get engaged. Besides, great storytellers have the ability to turn “me” into a “we”, by telling stories that shine the light on a concern that both the teller and the audience share. This connection creates empathy and opens people’s hearts, hence appealing to their human spirit and enhancing commitment in taking action.

There is no magic formula to reach the Tipping point to trigger the social epidemic, but there are many factors, strategies and tactics that increase the chances to make it happen, according to those who have studied the marketing contents that go viral. The main key success factors are:

Promise of practical value inspires people to share knowledge that may be useful to others. Either it is a matter of generosity or a matter of a will to be perceived as smart and helpful, inherent practical value works as a social currency that fosters relationships among people. For some people, it makes them feel like insiders having privileged information.

Specific topics related to the dreams, aspirations and challenges of specific audience segments, inspiring them and spurring discussion among their community. These may encompass warnings, inspirational stories, advise, special deals and opportunities.

Inspiring strong emotions of laugher, amusement, anger, surprise, inspiring solidarity or uniting people for a common cause are powerful drivers of virality.

According to a survey carried out by The New York Times, the top motivators for sharing were:

  • 75% said that sharing helped them better understand news they were interested in
  • 85% said that the comments they got from sharing provided them more thought
  • 94% considered how helpful a link would be to another user
  • 68% shared as an advertisement for themselves, to give others a sense of who they are
  • 73% said it helped them find people with common interests

Based on these factors and other considerations, there are three strategy recommendations:

Design your content to provoke an emotional reaction. Arousing a sense of amusement, surprise, anger, solidarity or affection is likely to foster sharing among the audience.

Create content that provides real value. As aforementioned, stories may address some of the audience’s needs, challenges or aspirations, providing know how and inspiration for their personal lives.

Embed features that facilitate virality. Incorporating interactive features in the content is likely to foster more engagement, and this leads to virality.

Finally, there are some common mistakes you should avoid if you want to boost engagement and virality: being offensive, asking for likes, talking about yourself and being too obscure.

You may find further information on this topic in the Whitepaper “Marketing destinations through storytelling”, freely downloadable in www.envisioningtourism.com

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/