The Top Questions About Place Branding

Place branding has become a critical tool for municipalities seeking to draw tourist dollars. Here’s what you need to know about how it works and how to implement it.

Do you live in a city — or a destination?

If the answer is the latter, then there is an excellent change that your environment has been “place branded.” Sometimes also called “destination marketing,” place branding follows many of the same rules seen with product marketing and can help nations, states and cities develop a public identity and connect with travelers (or even prospective residents) seeking fresh experiences.

How Place Branding Works

Travel is a critically important industry for municipalities, who must strive to earn their share of a market that’s worth nearly $8 trillion — or 10% of global GDP. Given the enormity of those numbers, it’s no small wonder that cities are hiring marketing agencies that specialize in place branding to help capture their piece of the market.

The truth facing these places is simple: Just as businesses must compete for consumers, locations must compete for people, businesses and the resources they bring.

The core of place branding is the creation of an identity that articulates the unique characteristics and sense of place connecting to a nation, state or city. This identity encapsulates the way a place looks and feels, its attributes and features and the people who live and work within its borders. These elements are then rendered using the usual marketing and advertising toolbox: Slogans, logos, campaigns etc.

Let’s distill that down to a famous example: “Keep Austin Weird,” a slogan adopted by the Austin Independent Business Alliance. The slogan, which arose organically based on a comment made on a community radio show, is the perfect distillation of the ethos of Austin — a city known for its love of the off-kilter and original within a state that exhibits more traditional values.

“Keep Austin Weird” became enormously popular because it articulated the essence of the place; somewhere you can find independent film and music festivals, outsider artists and mavericks of every stripe. That place branding has helped Austin become the fastest-growing city in the United States.

Tips for Smart Place Branding

Place branding, when executed well, is a self-reinforcing process that provides sustainable benefits. When a place develops a favorable identity, tourists are drawn to visit, and their economic activity helps boost that city’s bottom line, allowing it to pay for infrastructure improvements, amenities, schools etc. In turn, better living conditions create a draw for not only more new residents, but also new businesses. When cities become larger, healthier and more vibrant, they become even more attractive to tourists, and the cycle of positive results continues. 

Creating a campaign that can kickstart that cycle, however, is no small task. When developing a new place branding campaign, it’s important to consider the following:

  •  Create a tagline and logo that can distill the essence of your location into a few short words and images. In most cases, your tagline should gesture toward a fundamental truth about the location you’re describing. If it doesn’t, then your tagline is going to be superficial and won’t resonate. Once you’ve settled on a tagline, it must be formulated in a pithy and memorable fashion.
  • While taglines and logos are important and perhaps the most high-profile elements of a place branding campaign, you also need to think deeply about the fundamental nature of the place you’re branding. Think about the location’s existing public identity. How does people current view the area? Do they think about it at all? How would you like them to think about the area?
  • Place branding should be more than an inventory of the features and attributes of your location. If you’re surrounding by green space and mountains, think about how this environment makes people feel, rather than dwelling on superficial physical characteristics.
  • Once you’ve settled on some branding ideas, interrogate them rigorously. Are your ideas going to resonate with a large and diverse group of people? Is your branding concept original and compelling enough to truly create a fixed identity within the public’s consciousness?
  • Once you’ve settled on a place branding concept, you’ll need to market and advertise through various channels and create a tailored plan to reach the audiences you’re targeting. Yet it’s imperative to view place branding within a larger strategic context. This shouldn’t be a task solely for marketing people. Place branding should be top of mind for urban planners, city managers, architects, officials — everyone who plays a significant role in the operation and promotion of a jurisdiction.

Finding the Right Place Branding Partner

At Bigeye, we’re domain experts in place branding –– and we have the full stack of advertising and marketing tools you need to reach the largest audience possible. Contact us today for more information about how we can help turn your location into a destination.

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Why persona marketing is the key for your tourist destination

Whether guests visit your destination to stay in rustic, canvas yurts under the stars, or pay premium prices to be wined and dined by celebrity chefs and sommeliers — everyone is looking for something that fits their tastes, needs, and lifestyle. Persona marketing helps tourism and hospitality brands define their target audiences and set themselves apart from the competition by honing in on who really wants to visit their destinations. You don’t need to please everyone … you just have to please a select few.

Persona marketing unlocks destination discovery: 

There isn’t a “one size fits all” vacation model. There isn’t even an average standard for what vacations should look like. According to TripBarometer, only 34% of travelers in the United States fall into what is commonly defined as a “traditional,” or mainstream, travel category. The remaining 66% lean toward specialized travel subsets such as adventure or experiential travelers, solo, luxury, or service-oriented vacationers. As a marketer, you simply can’t make broad assumptions about who your target audience may be. You need to get narrow on who is most likely to visit your tourist destination, how they prefer to plan vacations, who they travel with, how they spend, when they go, and what they like. Personas are a great, actionable way to achieve this.

Persona marketing helps brands break away from dangerous generalizations and gain clarity about the demographics of the people most likely to visit their destination. The first thing people often decide when booking a vacation experience is where they want to travel. For this reason, persona marketing can be an especially effective means to promote your destination during this discovery period. For example, Costa Rica has become famous as a prime spot for eco-travelers and nature enthusiasts thanks to the country’s many treehouse resorts, surfing lodges, yoga retreats, zip-line courses, and sustainable tourism efforts. Tourist destinations in Costa Rica can leverage their position within this ecosystem by appealing to the specific personas who find these elements attractive. Knowing – and speaking directly to – the marketing persona that fits this profile allows brands to tailor their efforts to websites, journals, and blogs where viable prospects are already enjoying content. This reduces friction in the discovery process and reduces the amount of effort and time needed to secure a sale.

Tailored merchandising maximizes vacations and revenue:

Once you’ve attracted the attention of a potential persona and have a steady stream of visitors heading to your tourist destination, you can still use persona marketing to tailor the vacation experience on a deeper level. Consider a cruise ship. Cruisers are, in and of themselves, a certain type of travel persona: often, families with disposable annual income of $150K or more who are educated and want to see the world, but don’t want the hassle of planning the nuances of the trip themselves. Yet, within this persona, there are travelers who will naturally fall into a variety of sub-types: those who want to spend every day at the spa, those who want a steady-stream of kid-friendly activities, romantic couples, adventure seekers, water lovers, foodies, and bar flies. Knowing the personas that are attracted to your tourist destination and the nuances of the sub-types within those personas allows you to tailor your merchandising efforts for effectively so you can send spa discounts, dining recommendations, entertainment promotions, and event reminders to the right people at the right times.

Using persona marketing helps you make everyone’s vacation experience feel highly specialized and personal, which augments the tourist experience … and, of course, increases the chances that guests will spend (more) money at your site. In the United States, the majority of travelers cite “treating themselves” as a top priority when traveling, according to the Trekksoft travel blog. They look to sightseeing (53%), special dining (41%), accommodation (41%), activities (35%), and shopping (24%) respectively as the top areas to splurge. Knowing which of these items your guests are most interested in allows you to meet their needs and your bottom line.

Whether you already have a persona marketing strategy, or still need to define who your ideal target audience is, we are here to help. Contact us to learn more about the types of personas that fit your tourist destination. We can work with you to define the market and customer segmentation research needed to build and understand your personas, create a custom marketing plan around their needs, and track the results of how persona marketing can transform your tourist destination.

How video links can transport your tourism marketing to the future

Did you know that 66% of U.S. Consumers watch travel videos when thinking about or planning at trip to inform their purchasing decisions, according to Tubular Insights? And did you know that by 2019, Cisco predicts that over 90% of the internet bandwidth will be used by video media? We’re sensing a trend here. Video links don’t need to be a standalone marketing asset showcasing your property, product, or tourism services: they can be a gateway to your future marketing strategy.

Getting the right content in front of the right people:

Most marketers agree that video content is an emotionally compelling, highly engaging way to reach their target audience. The key to successfully using video links as part of your marketing strategy is getting the right content in front of the right people. A great example of a brand that has done this successfully is Turkish Airlines. Although they only have a few thousand YouTube followers, their videos get an average of 1.9 million views per video (compared to Delta’s average of approximately 94,000 views per video). These statistics didn’t happen by accident. In addition to crafting highly shareable, entertaining (yet educational) content, Turkish Airlines has used paid video to push its content in front of qualified audiences that then began sharing their content and taking it viral. In this instance, Turkish Airlines balanced content, organic exposure, and paid advertising to create the perfect digital mix. By using new data modeling techniques, such as attribution marketing, you can predict the right balance for your brand to drive similar success.

Video links round out your multi-channel marketing strategy:

Video links complement almost every marketing channel and can be used alongside traditional media such as television and radio, and new media such as social media and PPC campaigns. By using A/B testing to understand what content appeals to your audience, you can create videos that delight and inspire action. Then, simply plug and play that content into your spend based on your channel performance findings using attribution forecasting. Sounds simple, right? It is. If you are new to attribution modeling, click here to learn more about what this new tool is and how it can benefit your business. Well placed video links are especially valuable for tourism marketing because they capture the essence of your property or brand in a way that still photos (that have a reputation for being stagnant at worst and photoshopped at best) and copy (that tells rather than shows) cannot.

BIGEYE can help you understand which videos work best and where to place them to maximize exposure across all your marketing touch points. Click here to learn more about our creative and attribution services and start preparing for 2019’s video trends today … because who doesn’t want to be two years ahead of their competition?

How your tourism brand can benefit from the $70B VR industry

A little over a year ago when the Oculus Rift, the first mainstream virtual reality machine, was released to the public, some tourism marketing brands feared the technology could make travel obsolete. As this technology continues to improve, we beg to differ. By 2020, Tnooz projects that virtual reality will be a $20 billion business primed for the hospitality and tourism industry. The reality – virtual or not – is that machines can’t fully replace the experience of travel (yet) … but they can augment it. As digital marketers, we need to harness this incredible potential to capture travelers’ imaginations and send them to places … both figuratively and literally … that they have only dreamed about.
Use virtual reality to promote a destination or experience:

One of the most obvious ways to use virtual reality to support tourism marketing is at the top of the marketing funnel. In other words, your brand can use virtual reality the same way the film industry uses previews to entice and attract potential movie-goers. Instead of a replacement, consider virtual reality a “teaser” or “trailer” for your property or destination. And if photos and videos are the most engaging content digital marketers have available, then live-action, 3D, interactive experience is probably one level up. More than 75% of Facebook content is image-based; and videos garner triple-digit click ratios compared to text and copy-based emails. This is especially true for the tourism and hospitality industry because you’re selling an experience, rather than an object.

Many brands are already creating virtual reality-friendly YouTube videos and blogs where people who have a virtual machine can simply press play, plug in their phone, and experience another dimension. Virtual lovers can swim with sharks, explore haunted houses, and take in the sights and sounds of world-class kitchens. Each virtual video projects the viewer into their desired atmosphere, creating a truly sensory experience that decidedly leaves them wanting more. The 360-degree visual stimulation makes the viewer feel like they are so close to the action … yet they can’t truly interact with, touch, smell, or feel the environment. Talk about one effective preview.

Use virtual reality to…augment reality:

The precursor and complement to virtual reality is augmented reality. Augmented reality apps allow a user to overlay maps, interest points, photos, trivia, or social opportunities on top of the world around them. When combined with a virtual reality experience, the results transform museum exhibits into interactive experiences, make tourist destinations that are off limits due to dangerous conditions or construction accessible, or allow the average visitor to experience something they couldn’t normally. Think: feeding pandas in a zoo, participating in a rocket launch at a science museum, or climbing ancient, crumbling ruins in the tropics.

In this way, virtual reality can become an add-on marketing opportunity to enrich the vacation experience and create a deeper emotional bond for your visitors. Virtual reality can’t replace the feeling of a massage, or the taste of a Michelin star restaurant; but it can work alongside those experiences to either purposefully contrast them or add extra value to those experiences themselves.

Virtual reality also unlocks non-traditional tourism options:

Perhaps less obviously, virtual reality also allows individuals who otherwise could not travel for physical, mental, or even monetary reasons, to experience something incredible. While an able-bodied athlete might not choose a virtual reality experience over hitting the slopes, someone suffering from an injury or disability may be energized and invigorated by this singular opportunity. Virtual reality gives tourism and travel companies the chance to infuse inclusivity and sensitivity into their brand voice — which is something that provides a benefit to our shared communities and appeals strongly to the millennial purchaser.

For ideas about how your brand could use virtual reality to extend your travel experience, reach out to our creative team today. Together, you can be on the cutting edge of this emerging trend and lead the change in this exciting industry.

The only four things you need to know about tourism analytics

Tourism analytics are a real asset for tourism-based businesses. Data can help you understand seasonal trends, know what your competition is doing, and support your customers’ purchase and planning process. Everyone has suggestions on what to track, what tools are best, and how to link it to your business insights.
The good news is, there isn’t a one size fits all recipe. There is so much data that you can track almost anything today. We want to share the only four things you need to know when building an analytics program for tourism marketing rather than getting caught up in the tools and processes.

Figure out what you’re trying to understand:

First and foremost, decide what you want to learn. Depending on your business model, you might not need to collect every piece of data about your customers. For example, the Ritz Carlton is known for impeccable service, personalized experiences, and white-glove attentiveness. They decided to harness data to their customer management system to track trends in food and beverage, tastes and preferences, and expectations. They use this data to personalize the service delivery experience when guests are on site. You might decide you’d like to understand how your customers navigate between mobile and desktop sites, how long the sales cycle lasts and what assets they need during that time, or how to price competitively in your market. Knowing what metrics are most important will work best for you starts with defining the problem you hope to solve. Start there, and the rest of your data strategy will develop more naturally.

Realize that you can’t do it all:

Focus on the big swings. This is especially important if you are just building your data program. With so much insight available, it’s easy to try to do too many things at once. Work with your data team or a trusted marketing agency like ours to prioritize your data needs based on level of effort and impact. A good rule of thumb is to start with low hanging fruit (this might include things such as site heuristics, quick UX and content updates online, or mobile integrations).

This gives you time to formulate a problem and hopefully find its answer based in data. When choosing what metrics to track, always double check that that KPI relates back to a question you have about your business or client base. And don’t forget to pare down your strategy. To start, choose one to three things to track and work on each quarter. If you find this is easy, ramp it up; but start small to ensure you get results from your investment.

Learn and act fast:

Many digital marketers joke that ROI is out — and speed to market is in. While we still think ROI is an important metric to keep an eye on, we agree that action is key. Tourism and hospitality are ever changing industries where customers tastes shift as new trends emerge and new technology changes how we travel and interact with the world. Don’t collect data for the sake of collecting data and know what you want to do with it. Before tracking any given metric, create a hypothesis of what you think might be happening and how you would address it if data proves you right. That last part is critical. If you don’t have a plan for how you want to use this information, you’re simply collecting observations rather than insights; And that won’t help your business.

Invest in the future:

Because you might not be able to do everything at once, it’s important to prioritize your data collection and your data tools. Look ahead to consider the systems you will need in a year, or five years. Even if you opt out of these tools now, it’s important to keep them in mind so you don’t suddenly find yourself behind your competition. Partnering with a data-based agency like BIGEYE is a great way to help prioritize your data investments, tools, and collection roadmap so you are using the data you have and planning for the future effectively (and affordably).

 

No matter what stage you’re at in your data strategy, we’re here to help. Click here to learn more about the types of services we offer – from data mining and trend forecasting, to online testing and retargeting.

Why you need to include video marketing in your tourism outreach

We’ve shared our views on why video marketing and production matters more than ever before and how tourism marketing can benefit from video in the past. And, for our advanced readers who are already on the trend, we want to take things one step farther.

Videos link channels across tourism marketing outreach

When customers receive an email with an embedded video link, they are 200% more likely to click the links. Go ahead, reread that: 200% more likely to click your email. Video is such an engaging medium that it has the power to link multiple marketing channels together and bridge the gap between email, social, paid, search, television, and even print ads. You’ll find your customers seamlessly migrating between your Facebook campaigns and your YouTube channel. They’ll happily log online to see the next installment of a television commercial with a great narrative. A teasing hashtag is enough to make them close their magazine and log onto Instagram. And then they’ll share it all. The reason video is so effective in this way is because it allows marketers to tell a story with their brand and communicate their value proposition through words and images. Video is easy for consumers to digest and also easy for marketers to implement across a wide variety of channels. This winning combo allows you to leverage some great b-roll footage across your diverse marketing efforts to create a true end-to-end marketing experience that customers love.

Video marketing lets you be everywhere customers need you to be

Today’s consumer often starts their purchase journey on one device and ends (or purchases) somewhere else. This is especially true in tourism marketing. Device agnostic marketing techniques are becoming more and more important as customers use their smartphones, tablets, laptops, and televisions to solve everyday problems all at the same time. That’s four screens competing for your customers’ attention at any given moment. To ensure success, you need to be on all four screens. And before you protest and say that this would be too expensive, consider the power of video marketing. Aside from being a top-notch visceral cue for tourism marketing customers, video translates easily across screens and mediums, allowing you to be everywhere at once … Without the hefty price tag to go along with it. Good video production allows you to be everywhere your customers expect you to be regardless of where they are at in your purchase journey.

Tourism marketing is a visual industry at its core

We would be remiss not to remind you that video marketing is one of the most engaging mediums available to the tourism industry. Nothing affirms a customer’s choice in your destination or hotel like seeing your views, exploring your guest rooms, or taking in the sights and sounds of your kitchens from the comfort of their own home. Video helps build engagement and excitement, while leveraging the fundamental emotions necessary to inspire an elective purchase such as a vacation or tourism visit. Video marketing is, without a doubt, the most powerful way to capture your prospective audience’s imagination and entice them to learn more about your brand and commit to their next trip.

Video is a critical investment for tourism marketing

At the end of the day, video is also just a good investment. When you do it right, one long video can be spliced into multiple short spots and teasers, you can pull still images from high quality footage, and edit your roll a hundred different ways to support a variety of campaigns, messaging points, website needs, and sales tools. Old video can often be combined with new footage as elements of your destination evolve, so this initial investment can last for years to come (unlike photos that tend to wear out their welcome in one to two years). Let our creative team of video production efforts help you build a shot list, story board, and video narrative that will adapt to your changing needs across a wide range of channels. Together, we’ll set a budget and production schedule that delights and inspires. 

Check out some of the amazing videos we’ve created for our other clients here and then let’s get started. As we near the end of the year, there’s no better time to introduce a video campaign to inspire sales moving toward 2017.