A very bold initiative to produce a strategic marketing plan for a city veered onto a well-used track that represents the graveyard of many tourism campaigns. The sizeable group enthusiastically contributed their ideas on projects that could benefit the city in the short-term. They were largely initiatives that had been spoken about for years, most of which were similar to larger attractions in our competitive cities.
The group was asked to dig deeper and think out of the box but very little original thought was forthcoming. Very few considered major trends that are accelerating, including those that were already sweeping across the tourism world. The approach at the brainstorm was typical of marketing ten years ago, where we make a product and then try to persuade people to buy it.
So how do we make progress in this process? The 2 most important steps are to ‘listen’ to what clients are saying about us during their visit. This can form the basis of our efforts. We then need to agree on the market segments we will target. Our current approach of ‘something for everyone, in fact, means nothing to anyone’ as general messages do not evoke am emotional response from anybody. As we progress we must decide on our story that makes us unique and differentiates us from the pack.
We have to go through the process that we would in pursuing the love of our life in our personal lives. Think that process through in your mind and then apply each step to getting to know your customers.
We need to establish a brand that is differentiated, competitive and relevant, and will be resilient to the future disruption. Only then should we start thinking about the attractions and activities that we will pursue to attract our chosen markets.
Never forget how you gathered information about the girl or guy you wanted to date, and then strategised how you would implement your plan for success.
Get a bit of love going for your customers and see how they respond when they feel noticed and that you care about them.