No destination marketer wants a smaller promotional budget next year, but sometimes that’s just the way it is, despite best efforts to develop a stable funding model. “Creativity loves constraints,” the saying goes, but how can your destination marketing team produce impactful promotion when time and resources are scarce?

If you’re facing a smaller promotional budget for the coming year, there is hope.

Every destination has passionate residents. Destination marketing organizations (DMOs) of any size and budget can deliver their best content and most important stories with laser-targeted precision by enabling these residents to tell the destination’s story all while focusing on the right potential visitors.

Focus on cost-effective marketing strategy and tactics

Instead of using expensive mass media advertising with high production costs, destinations can save money by collecting authentic content from residents and visitors. DMOs can curate the best images, videos and stories and deliver them to qualified and specific audiences.

How can destinations find the right audiences to speak to?

“Individuals now assemble in online tribes and seek out communities around common passions and interests,” says Destination Think senior strategist Aaron Nissen. DMOs can adapt to this behaviour by segmenting their markets based on interests instead of geography.

In addition, Nissen says, “A campaign can become more purpose-driven by developing personas and using product mapping.

Beyond defining the right target audiences, destinations also need a clear mission behind every promotional activity. “When marketers use online advertising with hypertargeting techniques, it also forces the DMO to define the problem they are trying to solve,” Nissen notes.

“For example, you might need more event registrations on a weekend. Starting from that goal, you can ask who would go to this event? Why? What appeals to them? When is the best time to reach this event attendee? Deconstruct the audience to find the sweet spot. This can be tough for DMOs to do, but it’s critical to content marketing and hypertargeted ads. This is the world of promotion that we live in. Less is more. Focusing on a specific audience will often make the messaging more relevant.”

Activate your destination’s residents

Think about the difference this hypertargeting might make for your destination, even with a modest budget. Your DMO could make a major leap towards achieving its goals by developing unique concepts that address multiple challenges with single campaigns or programs.

Building local community support doesn’t have to take away from marketing resources, but can boost a destination’s profile, and help local tourism businesses as a result. For example, a few hundred additional room nights every weekend will make a world of difference for a small town’s accommodation operators.

It isn’t a far-fetched idea. Develop promotional campaigns that activate residents and turn them into marketers through word-of-mouth, providing authentic content that you can use in your marketing.

We’ve helped destinations (including the arctic Canadian town of Inuvik) successfully build community support and significant niche marketing with a low budget. It all comes down to passionate niches and storytellers.

Related reading: Small-town pride: Inuvik, Canada’s viral Facebook success story
Related reading: Why place marketers should use Blue Ocean Strategy to improve their value proposition

Featured image credit: Anthony Quntano, Flickr


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