Sometimes, in a misguided effort to keep all of their stakeholders happy (an impossible task no matter how hard you try), DMOs try to market everything they have — “there’s something for everyone in our city”. This makes me think of a phrase we often repeat: Trying to be everything to everybody will only ensure you are nothing to nobody. And since there is not really a limit on how much you could spend to market your destination (only a limit to how much budget you can spend), when you try to be everything to everybody, virtually all of your spend is wasted and you are nothing to nobody.
Then sometimes there is this desire to promote what we think visitors are looking for, even though we may not have it (or much of it) in our destination. We recently completed a comprehensive stakeholder survey leading up to an in-market Marketing Action Plan (MAP) development assignment, and a majority of stakeholders said visitors should enjoy this destination’s nightlife. However, in the same survey, stakeholders said that nightlife is the one thing they don’t have in this destination.
This fantastic presentation by Sally Hogshead mostly related to how you as an individual are different and how you should leverage those differences for your own personal success. But Sally also did a great job explaining how important it is in business to promote what is different about your offering. And never forget, the tourism and travel economy in your destination is BIG business.
While almost everyone feels that their destination is “unique”, Destination Marketing and Management Organizations often find it difficult to succinctly define and then market what is truly different about their offering.
As we guide DMOs through the Marketing Action Planning process, we constantly remind participants that the Target Audience’s Required Role and Desired Beliefs should be realistic AND aspirational. Meaning, we may not offer it now or be known for it yet (the aspirational), but the “it” has to be attainable (realistic).
If you agree that it really is Better to Be Different, then consider the definition of unique: having no like or equal; unparalleled; incomparable. As you dig deep to uncover what it is that makes your destination different, keep thinking “no like or equal”, “unparalleled or incomparable”. You may not come up with a positioning that is absolutely different than every other destination in the world, but at least you will be on a path to having a position that is not similar to too many others.
Having a MAP that is as complete as possible AND is both realistic and aspirational is a great first step to figuring out what truly makes your destination different. Only then will you be able to truly leverage your strengths and really understand who you need to stand out with as a must-visit destination. Don’t have a Marketing Action Plan? Give us a call! We have MAP coaching packages to fit virtually any DMO budget.