Previously, we had a look at Destination Marketing and why it is essential. It is now time for a step by step guide (worry not, it’s only 4 steps long) to creating a great Destination Marketing strategy.
How to create an efficient Destination Marketing strategy?
Here are 4 quick but unavoidable steps to boost your destination marketing strategy.
Step 1: assess your product and value it – definition of the competitive advantage
Destination Marketing starts with the identification of a Destination’s strengths and the superior benefits it offers to visitors. This analysis must take into consideration the consumer wants and needs as well. The strength of the competitive advantage is measured by the actual benefits it grants the visitors. It has to be opposed to the direct competition of the Destination: ski resorts will, for example, compete in slope variety and sizes.
Destinations must also keep in mind that a competitive advantage can emerge from the combination of several products that create a synergy. That is also how a theme can appear. Imagine a destination with historical landmarks, free museums, and convenient public transportation. Separately, these are great advantages but brought together they paint the perfect picture for, say, a school trip. Similarly: a city with grand hotels with conference rooms, a dynamic economy, and great companies could focus on becoming a business trips destination.
Step 2: Identify your targets and position your product
To position your travel products on the right market, you must first identify your target. Once you have identified your target customers, you can then adapt your message and send it to the most potentially responsive markets.
Different targets require a different marketing strategy: your customers belong to entirely different species when it comes to addressing and convincing them. Looking at age, social status, interests and online habits will help you point out the exact tools you need. First, it determines the voice you should use, but also the channels. Younger customers and businessmen and women are to be reached through phones rather than desktops or paper adds. Prestigious interlocutors will need extra personalization and effort. Some customers are looking for inspiring content with strong visuals, whereas others expect to-the-point information.
In short: target marketing allows for more efficient marketing campaigns through the development of messages and offers specific to the needs and aspirations of particular market segments (source). If you have not defined the exact customers you want to reach, chances are you will deliver the wrong message, in the wrong way.
Step 3: Create your story and communicate your brand
After you have identified your competitive advantage and your target market, you have all the main elements to develop your brand. Your brand is in a few words the identity you want people to perceive when they think about your Destination.
To communicate your brand in the most efficient way and persuade people, you can use storytelling. You can tell your story in many different ways and formats: photos, videos, social media, blogs and more. Videos are taking an increasing importance in promoting a destination and have a strong impact on travelers’ decision, with 71% of online travelers watching online videos for inspiration and information on a destination.
With the explosion of online collaborative platforms and peer-to-peer communications, storytelling has changed hands (source). You cannot be the only definer and communicator of your story anymore, it will be spread by others (for example past visitors). You can use this, and motivate others to tell the story you want when they come back home. Let previous customers become your evangelists.
Good news: as you have previously identified what benefits you offer visitors, what is left to do now is engage them through Destination Marketing and let their own story become another tale of your brand.
Step 4: Market your Destination through specific channels
To market your destination and communicate your brand, several channels exist and can convey the message. They can include classic promotion, social media, e-mail, SEO, etc. Keep in mind that no matter the channel, enticing and relevant content is key.
The channels you choose will depend on your target market and on the role you want these channels to play. Put the emphasis on integration to create synergy and communicate a unique story rather than a confused picture. To do so, maintain a strong visual coherence between channels, avoid contrary messages and keep a similar ton.
Keep in mind some channels escape your control, third-party channels that will also diffuse information and opinions on your Destination. These are tools: connect with these external channels and reach their own public to grow visibility for yourself. If negative, they allow you to confront existing problems and answer them.
Ready? It’s take off time for your Destination Marketing strategy.