What Idaho Can Teach Rural Tourism Businesses About Focusing On Your Ideal Customer.

by Joanne Steele on February 15, 2010


Last week, the Idaho State Tourism Department unveiled a brilliant piece of marketing, “The Great Idaho Getaway Opening scene, Great Idaho GetawayProject”. This 32 minute video has lessons that any small town or rural tourism business owner can implement in your own marketing.

Yes, video is a fantastic cutting edge medium, but it’s the MESSAGE we need to focus on, that every rural tourism business can learn from.

Focus on the Marketing Message :

The stars of this video are the Lumpkin family. Tobias, the dad, is overworked and stressed. His wife, Julie, is concerned about Toby’s health and stress level. Georgia their daughter about 6 and their 9 or 10 year old son, Alden, are just regular adorable kids. These are real people who live and work in the Seattle, Washington area.

The Idaho Tourism Department obviously has a huge number of different types of visitors they would like to bring to their state, but for this project they are focusing with great precision on families.

Through the course of the 32 minute video, this family will experience many of Idaho’s wonderful attractions, but the film isn’t about the attractions. It’s about the Lumpkins and how they were transformed as a family by their 10 days in Idaho.

It starts by showing us this family’s greatest pain – overworked dad who does a great job, but has limited time for his family.

The person who is narrating at this point is Mom, the person who in most cases plans family travel. She doesn’t tell us WHERE they’re going – Idaho hasn’t even been mentioned yet. You learn WHY she wants this trip, and WHAT she expects her family to gain from the trip.

Now, several minutes into this film, we learn that the family is off to vacation in Idaho.

When we meet their guide at the airport, we begin to hear a little about what they’re going to experience, all couched in terms of the EXPERIENCE not the attraction.

At each stop along the way, the narrator talks briefly about the attraction or activity. Afterward, either Toby or Julie talk about the ways the experience enhanced their lives as a family by giving them new skills, more time together and relaxation.  This family is any family.

We hear little snippets about Idaho from the narrator, and through Toby’s descriptions of Idaho’s beauty and attractions.

Idaho Tourism understands that they are not selling rafting, fishing, golfing, spaing etc. They’re selling the transformative family experience of these things.

Think about it. With everything Idaho has to offer, and it’s extensive, they would NOT be spending expensive minutes in this video SELLING Dog Bark Park – a minor little attraction.

They are marketing the feeling of family discovery and delight.

The unspoken messages are:

  1. If you want your husband to have a relaxing vacation…
  2. If you want your children to have some valuable and fun unstructured time in nature…
  3. If you want to create family memories that will last a lifetime…
  4. If your family means more to you than a Ferrari…
  5. If you want your whole family to learn new exciting things about themselves…

Come to Idaho.

So the lesson you can take away from this video is:

Unless you’re a truly unique destination – like no other in the world, stop selling what you do or have, and start marketing how you fulfill the longings and needs of your ideal or perfect customers.

If you’re still not sure who your perfect customer is, sign up and download our free e-book, Marketing for Free in 2010, and use the workbook to determine that. The sign up form is to the right of this post.

Thank you Idaho for the beautiful lesson in marketing.

1 Frances Conklin, Idaho Travel Council February 15, 2010 at 5:40 pm

Thank you for this thoughtful article. This video project is changing how we all think about marketing our individual businesses and the state of Idaho as a whole.

2 Joanne Steele February 16, 2010 at 11:18 am

It’s the new wave! How lucky you are that your state tourism office is celebrating the value of small attractions like yours.

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