Funding Your Small Town Tourism Marketing Budget in the Age of Austerity

by Joanne Steele on March 29, 2011

Glass half empty or half full?

Does your austerity marketing budget feel like the half empty glass or the half full glass?

Last week I outlined a method for making marketing choices about what to cut and what to keep as you build your small town tourism austerity marketing budget for 2012.

You thought creating that austerity budget was hard! Wait for the next step – selling it to your funding agents, probably your town our county council!

If you followed the steps outline last week, you have a budget that is heavily weighted toward internet marketing.

You might have made a decision to cut back or dramatically change your visitor’s bureau hours.

You may have decided to make some big changes in print advertising spending.

And you might even have decided to eliminate your print guide or lure brochure for this year.

All these decisions make sense because you looked at who your customer is and where he or she goes for travel planning and booking information.

BUT, selling your marketing plan to your funders may be a challenge and here’s why:

Many councils are made up of older people who have the volunteer time to work as unpaid town council members.

And many of these people are slower to adopt internet technology. They may have email, and do some research on the internet.  But they are more concerned about privacy issues, so are less likely to shop online, and use social media.

They may not understand that we are in the midst of an internet marketing revolution, as more and more people turn away from print media and interrupt advertising, and toward using the internet to make travel and buying decisions.

They may feel that funding tangible print publications, visitor centers and flashy advertising is more valuable that this “fad” called the internet.

Part of your job is educating your funding partners about your marketing choices.

Show them how visitor numbers and habits have changed at your visitor center that informed you decision to change.

Share some of the research information available that shows how using internet marketing increases profitablilty and business success.

Here are three articles about the value of internet marketing that will be helpful.

Technology as the Great Equalizer-Part 1, A Guest Post by Charles L. Colby

Technology as the Great Equalizer-Part 2, A Guest Post by Charles L. Colby

These two  articles are very helpful because the internet marketing information is broken down for small businesses, and for micro businesses – the foundation of most rural small towns.

Online Travel Market

The last post is written for larger destination marketing organizations, but the advice  and information is sound. Wade through the “travel market speak” and find the nuggets you can use to justify your marketing decisions.

Show your funding partners the data about how internet marketing can save you money and increase your marketing success. The information you need to substantiate that is in the above articles and others you will find through your own internet search.

Don’t just Ask, Show and Tell Your Story

I recently discovered an amazing piece of software that will revolutionize your presentation to your funding agency. Go to and learn about this exciting, easy to use alternative to a traditional and often boring PowerPoint presentation.

If you spend half an hour with the “Learn” section of their website, you’ll be ready to create something professional looking that will wow your audience and help you make your case for funding the marketing plan you present.

Good luck! Please report back with your successes.

Photo on Flickr by Ahmad Hammoud



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