“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking." - Albert Einstein
In a recent “think with Google” release, the following information was revealed. The article reported that ‘travel related’ searches for “today” and “tonight” on mobile devices have increased by 150% in just the past two years. Additionally, the piece reported that 60% of U.S. travelers would also consider taking an impulse trip based on great hotel or flight deals. It also revealed that 57% of U.S. travelers feel that destination brands should tailor their information based on personal preferences or past behaviors. Lastly, approximately a third of travelers across the country are interested in using digital assistants to not only research, but book their travel.
Those are either powerful trends and insights for communities with the aptitude to utilize the power and shear strength of the digital world, or an albatross to communities stuck in doing things the same way they have for the past few years.
While print continues to be the single most used source to reach potential travelers, it is very clear that digital is fast becoming a major force in luring visitors to communities. How does your community do in the digital arena? In addition to strategic print buys, do your local marketing discussions center around and include the very basic digital words such as Social Media, Gaming, SEO, GeoMarketing, Mobile-Friendly, QR codes (already obsolete), Beacons, Loading Speeds, Web-Friendly and the list goes on.
Now, bear in mind, the above are just the most basic strategies to utilize the rapidly changing technology that will be a thing of the past in the near future. If your community is really forward thinking and contemplating strategies two-four years down the road, you are then discussing how to utilize Augmented Reality, Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things. While marketing ones community is essential, the rapidly approaching processes of marketing your communities are changing and on steroids or “changed-squared” if you will.
When it comes to marketing transformation, we are in the perfect storm of technological change. Yes, the shear power of the overall reach of traditional media is still undeniably king at spreading your message. But when you couple the strengths of the traditional marketing methods along with the exponential disruption of the new marketing media tools, you have a combination that will propel your community to new heights.
Make no mistake, a new marketing strategy isn’t just creating a new Facebook page and being big on social media. Yes, those can help, no doubt, but don’t make the fatal mistake of thinking that is the basis of your marketing campaign. The true cost to enter the new marketing arena isn’t any less than before, in fact, it is much more costly if you are to make a worthwhile impact. The single price of print products has declined overall. The the cost of really playing in the digital arena and reaching the same equivalent number of your target audience is every bit as high due to the massive fragmentation of the digital audience over so many digital options.
As with everything, communities need to strike a healthy balance between all forms of marketing to most effectively convey their message to their targets. Knowing your target audience is very critical; you will be wasting money if you don’t know that simple, yet vital piece of data. Do you want baby boomers with excess dollars to visit your market? You are then looking at combination print/digital campaign. Do you want Millennial’s and Gen-X’s to visit your market? You are then certainly leaning more into the digital world.
The beauty of gaining this digital marketing knowledge in the marketing arena is that it can go along way toward leveling the playing field between large, medium and small communities. Even the smallest of communities with a powerful strategic marketing campaign can compete with larger communities in a new world of rapid change and transformation.
John A. Newby is the author of the "Building Main Street, Not Wall Street" weekly column dedicated to helping local communities keep their consumer dollars local. He can be reached by email at: john@UniquelyUSA.net