I am going to risk over simplifying things. It’s the antidote to over complicating things and, lets admit it, sometimes digital marketing types have a habit of doing that. Digital marketing is really only about two things. Content and distribution. That’s it.
We are all in pursuit of the holy grail which goes something like this. We have to get the right piece of content in front of the right customer on the right device at the right time in their decision making process to drive the right action. All within the context of a set of specific marketing targets that are tied closely to a defined set of business objectives.
Enter Place and Destination Marketing. It’s an interesting beast. You don’t own the product. In many cases you don’t sell the product. There is no try before you buy and you are selling an approximation of a holiday or trip the visitor might have. Sounds tough doesn’t it.
Expectation and reality can only be addressed through content. For destination marketers content is all they ever had and likely all they ever will have. Place and Destination Marketing really is a content led business.
Luckily destinations generally have a huge network of content creators, curators and consumers around them. That represents a hugely valuable content ecosystem. At the nation level that network extends across a whole country and incudes anyone and everyone who lives there, works there, visits or has an interest in that country. The content challenge therefore must be how you harness that potential and support the effective distribution of great destination content.
Offering that network something to line up against is certainly part of the solution. The destination’s brand defines a point of view around what that destination stands for and a basis for engaging with customers as well as creating the right kind of content. The story that the destination is trying to tell adds further clarity around the type of content to create and when to create it. Finally, and crucially, defining and offering up an appropriate taxonomy around your what your destination has to offer and it’s particular strengths provides a basis for organising your destination’s content. That provides a common language for creating, sharing, relating and distributing content.
Visit Wales have made some good progress in this area and they are working hard around getting the industry, marketing partners and other stakeholders to contribute to the Wales content ecosystem through the better tagging and sharing of great Wales content. They have produced three explainer videos covering the concept, tagging and sharing as well as how you apply the approach to sharing Wales images on flickr. They’re worth a watch. Here’s the first one.
Recently published in it’s third edition and available here we wrote the chapter ‘The digital challenge’. The book asks whether tourism places get the reputations they deserve and discusses brand concepts, challenges and topical cases. It tackles how place perceptions are formed, how cities, regions and countries can enhance their reputations as creative, competitive destinations and the link between competitive identity and strategic tourism development. It goes on to discuss how successful destination management organisations increasingly engage in conversations rather than campaigns and handle controversial questions of authenticity, brand narratives, leadership and authorship, story-telling, aesthetics, ethics and evaluation.
Authored by place brand consultants, destination marketers and academics including Simon Anholt, Philip Kotler, Wally Olins and other leading authorities our chapter ‘The digital challenge’ discusses how digital channels have grown up and how it represents a fundamental and revolutionary change. Customers are getting increasingly turned off by one way dialogue. Customers are now truly empowered and they are taking control of their relationship with brands – they are shaping those brands. We discuss tools, technologies and channels – what’s available and how are they currently being used in the area of travel and tourism. We outline the four key challenges facing destination branding within the context of digital – content, socialisation, integration and measurement. Finally we discuss what this means for destination, travel and tourism brands.
Why not go buy the book … it’s already picking up some good reviews …