Monday, March 1, 2010

Marketing Comes Back Around

Full circle to a "Destination Based" strategy, which is exactly what we have been working on for the last year. Attached is an article from USA Today that discusses why this is important. It has to do with limited budgets and people watching every penny. We want Stokes County to be the best alternative for people in the Triad and
Triangle to visit, play and spend their time and money.

theKaryl Leigh Barnes
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February 12, 2010 3:51 PM
Cities use destination branding to lure tourists- USA Today
February 12, 2010

If you’ve recently been a part of a round-table discussion about rethinking your country, region, state or city brand, you’re not alone.

As USA Today notes, "Destination branding… is back in vogue as cities and states pursue image makeovers designed to help them stand out in the weak global economy.”

"The branding bug is definitely on the ascent," notes Ted Levine, chairman of Development Counsellors International.

And if this leads to a resurgence of American travel and global economic stability – that’s a good thing.

Karyl Leigh Barnes

Vice President, Tourism Practice

Cities use destination branding to lure tourists
By Roger Yu

February 12, 2010

Tom Biedenharn's new business cards contain a recruiting message: "Dayton Patented. Originals Wanted."

The cards are a reminder that the city was once a place of innovation and is again serious about recruiting such talent, says Biedenharn, Dayton's public affairs manager.

City employees' business cards are part of a branding campaign designed to revive the city. The tagline was adopted to evoke Dayton's heritage as once having more patents per capita than any other city in the USA and that "the same inventive spark is still present today," Biedenharn says.

"Destination branding," such as Dayton is undertaking, is back in vogue as cities and states pursue image makeovers designed to help them stand out in the weak global economy, attract visitors and even lure people who might relocate. Some are adopting new themes. Others are recalibrating messages to portray themselves as an affordable place to visit.

"The branding bug is definitely on the ascent," says Ted Levine, chairman of Development Counsellors International, which works with cities in promoting tourism and economic development.

North Star Destination Strategies, a Tennessee firm that specializes in c

Among those that have launched rebranding efforts in recent years or are considering new campaigns, according to branding consultants: Fresno; Santa Rosa, Calif.; Providence; the state of Virginia; Beaverton, Ore.; North Port, Fla.; Peekskill, N.Y.; Los Alamos, N.M.; Fairbanks, Alaska; Cleveland; and the state of Florida.

City slogans have been around for decades. But image branding is taking on more urgency as visitors and meeting planners become more discriminating in spending their shrinking budgets. Rust Belt communities hope a refreshed message can help court new business and convince the locals, as much as outsiders, that their best days aren't over.

City branding, received more requests for proposals in 2009 than ever before, says its CEO, Don McEachern.

City advertising has critics, who say the money is better spent elsewhere. And quantifying a return on investment can be difficult. But effective campaigns in the past have been vital in reinvigorating some destinations, Levine says. Australia emerged from deep down under with its "Shrimp on the Barbie" campaign featuring Paul Hogan. Las Vegas' "What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas" highlighted its unabashed return as a sin city. "I Love New York" and "Virginia is for Lovers" are enduring taglines that still resonate with travelers.

The trend has caught on at the federal level, too. Congress is considering a bill that would create a non-profit company whose primary purpose is to make the USA an attractive destination to foreigners. Geoff Freeman of the U.S. Travel Association says many potential visitors have shunned the U.S. because of stepped-up security after the Sept. 11 terror attacks and the cumbersome process of obtaining entry visas. The new company would be funded through a $10 charge levied on tourists from countries that have a visa-waiver status with the USA. Private companies would match.

But with so many cities claiming to be a unique and fun place to be, most destination campaigns fail, as advertising without substance is inevitably wont to do, Levine says. Cities often neglect to mobilize the community into adopting the spirit of the campaign or fail to target the right audience, he says. "It makes no sense for a small town to market to Australia."

Matching message to audience

Cities are more specific in touting their uniqueness and targeting the demographics more likely to be swayed by their message, says Dan Fenton, chairman of Destination Marketing Association International.

Santa Rosa's previous slogan was "Come Visit," a generic message that wasn't registering with tourists who bypassed it for smaller towns in California's Sonoma County in search of 200 vineyards in the area.

In 2007, city officials spent $80,000 and hired North Star to assess Santa Rosa and learned it was seen as a place of business. Its new tagline, "Place of Plenty," was created to highlight its "agricultural heritage and abundance of food and wine," says Mo McElroy of Santa Rosa Convention & Visitors Bureau.

New logos, websites and brochures — featuring a cornucopia filled with grapes, knives and forks — plug the area's farm-to-table dining with icons representing vineyards, restaurants, shopping and farmers' markets, she says.

It's hard to say whether the new campaign will pay off long term. The number of visitors in Sonoma County remained flat in 2008 with about 7 million. "The economy stopped us short," McElroy say.

It's about stirring locals, too

For cities such as Dayton, Fresno and Cleveland, branding goes beyond tourism. It aims for a new identity that can stir local communities out of economic doldrums. Dayton's $190,000 campaign was as much a symbol of its hoped-for economic transition "from heavy automotive to capturing young creative talent," Biedenharn says.

Its ads depict downtown loft condos, artists and young families who can help in its economic revival. In developing the campaign, city officials invoked the success of early local leaders — industrialist John Patterson, the Wright brothers and Delco founder Charles Kettering — to recall its heritage of innovation. Other businesses and organizations in the city have adopted the logo for use on their own materials.

The "Cleveland Plus" campaign launched in mid-2007 similarly sought to mix the message of the region's viability as a place to invest with its "quirkier side" that might appeal to visitors, says Tamera Brown, a marketing executive at Positively Cleveland, the city's visitors and convention bureau. The campaign featured Iron Chef Mike Symon, a local resident, making pirogi filled with beef cheek. "It's Midwestern hip. But we never say that, because if you say you're hip, you're not," Brown says.

Not everyone bought into the campaign. Local comedian Mike Polk made a parody video, Hastily Made Cleveland Tourism Video, showing an empty downtown, deteriorating factories and trains leaving town paired with a raunchy song about its economic decline. It has become a YouTube sensation, with more than 2 million views.

Cleveland city officials were undeterred. They embraced the notoriety and sponsored a "Hastily Made" tourism video competition that received more than 40 entries. Polk was one of the five judges.

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