Part 5 – Marketing your Rural Tourism Town’s New Brand

by Joanne Steele on October 6, 2009

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The McCloud Mercantile Hotel

The McCloud Mercantile Hotel located on the quiet side of Mount Shasta

I promised you some words on marketing your brand or primary vision for your town.

Here are four ways to start marketing your vision while you work on those improvement projects we talked about in previous posts. Let’s not start by plowing new ground, when there are fields sitting around waiting to be harvested.

1. Start by marketing to the people who already know and love your town.

These are people who love you for what you are right now… regardless of the peeling paint, empty store fronts and lack of certain amenities – the things you are looking for ways to correct.

Each business and your chamber of commerce have a list of repeat customers, or people who have already shown an interest in all the wonderful diversions your town offers. Get back in touch with these people using the lure of your developing brand.

Yesterday I spent the day in McCloud, California at a strategic planning session. The words, “the quiet side of Mount Shasta” kept coming up throughout the day. What a lovely image for McCloud to share with all the rail lovers, hikers, skiers, quilters, yoga practitioners etc. who already have been to town and need to be reminded why they should return.

2. Make sure that your web site reflects your new brand or primary vision.

If you haven’t gotten to the point where you have a branding slogan like Northern New Hampshire’s  “Grand Lodges, Grand Adventure” don’t worry.

If you have a primary vision, you know what your web site should look like. If McCloud has the primary vision of being the quiet place to visit in the Mount Shasta region, their web site should reflect that solitary peacefulness – fishermen in lovely settings, people in the their charming downtown looking relaxed and fulfilled, yoga groups in meditation. No thrill seeking snowboard jumpers, but perhaps a middle aged couple happily skiing together.

3. Work with all the businesses in town to find ways each can showcase your new brand or primary vision as part of their marketing.

The whole branding process we’ve talked about has prepared businesses for this vital step.

Northern New Hampshire has a unifying logo and theme that all businesses are encouraged to incorporate into their marketing. If you are more like McCloud – still working to arrive at that final step – encourage your businesses to use images in their marketing that support that agreed upon primary vision.

4. Internlink all your town’s business web sites that are reoriented to your new brand or primary vision.

Remember that most visitors to small towns are using the Internet to make their plans and reservations. One McCloud business owner confirmed that 90% of her hotel reservations are coming through her web site.

As prospective visitors surf from your town’s motels to attractions to activities to your chamber site, they will develop a visceral understanding of your town and what you have to offer. Your primary vision will be working for you, inviting visitors to come and experience it for themselves.

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