The Shuswap Valley in British Columbia Canada is hosting a truly amazing weeklong event they call Routes and Blues. I think you’ll agree as you read on…
I learned about Routes and Blues because of multiple event invitations that appeared in my email box today – as you can see from the image!
Other rural areas around the globe can learn from The Shuswap about organizing a world class event in a rural area.
And there are things Shuswap Tourism can do to improve their internet marketing to support all their efforts with a world-class event internet marketing effort.
What Shuswap Tourism can teach everyone about small town event planning
1. They’ve created a huge multi-venue event out of 6 small town fests.
Instead of these small towns competing for attention and dates for local events, they have worked together to create a regional event involving 6 small towns!
If I lived in Vancouver, BC or Kamloops, or somewhere in the Pacific Northwest, United States, I’d probably not consider traveling all the way to Enderby, BC for a small town event. But this six day, six town, multiple activity event has me wishing I had the time to shoot on up from Northern California!!
I’ve written in a past post about regional “co-opetition” rather than competition and this is a great example.
2. Download their event brochure pdf (It’s the “events map” under the Program navigation tab at Routes and Blues) and prepare to get excited.
Their event brochure bills this as a local’s event for locals.
In our current tourism environment that is brilliant. Locals from all over the region will come – it’s for them. They can see themselves in the text and images.
And visitors from regional urban centers will come because it is for locals! It’s authentic! It is 6 authentic local small town events in one week-long authentic fest, with local food, local hiking and great entertainment.
3. They have planned activities to keep visitors busy all day in each community.
Too many small town events have cookie cutter activities which may include a race and parade, some entertainment and craft or food booths. Visitors come to town, shop a little, eat a little, listen a little and they’re gone.
These small towns in the Shuswap have given visitors a complete schedule of what to do when. You come to town, you to a little shopping, you visit unique venues, you take a hike, you eat and then you attend the concert. Next day, repeat in a different town.
What Shuswap Tourism can learn about internet event marketing.
With such a well-planned event, what could they possibly improve, you might ask…
1. Let’s start with their website, RoutesandBlues.ca.
Who is the Perfect Customer for this small town event?
Looking at the homepage, I have no idea in those first all-important few seconds. “Are kids welcome or do I leave them home?” is not answered here, and for a blues festival, that is a huge consideration. Who is supposed to come???
Their chosen font for the entire website is so small, I have to work to read it.
Remember, people don’t READ website content. They skim it for important points and read details as their interest develops.
Help people skim with good formatting and large type. Use all the formatting tools possible to make sure that when a visitor to your website skims a page, their eye is drawn to all the important information first.
Then they will slow down and read the details as their interest is stimulated.
Your “About” page is often one of the most read pages on your website. I checked out “About” at Routes and Blues first because I was interested in more information about who was sponsoring this event. This is what I saw:
This page sounds more like an introduction to a grant application than a statement to excite a prospective visitor.
Throughout this website, the content is written so generally that I cannot connect with any of it. It provides information without any consideration of the reader, or the target customer.
I constantly repeat in my posts about internet marketing that your ultimate purpose is to connect online with your most Perfect Customer and create a relationship.
I have stressed that when you try to write internet marketing content to speak to everybody, you reach nobody.
This website makes no intimate connection with any particular customer type. Not families, not singles, not the 42 year old woman who makes travel decisions for her family, or herself and her friends; not the senior citizen on a summer RV trip, not the world music lover or the foodie, or the hiker.
If you don’t stay long enough to download the brochure, you probably would figure the event is organized for NOT YOU.
2. Look at the Facebook invitation for one of the small towns.
I received 6 invitations, one from each of the small towns. I was sad to see that each had exactly the same content with a small change indicating a number in the event sequence.
“This is the fourth of six community events – the purpose of these events is to facilitate experiences with various cultural elements, interactions with nature and the promotion of local economic properity throughout the Shuswap. But most of all it will be one of the best local experiences that you will have this summer!!”
What a waste of a significant event internet marketing effort – sending out separate invitations to each of the six small town events without customizing them to each community or including something to entice me to accept.
More than your website, your Facebook presence is about creating and building relationships. I love receiving event invitations from all over the world even if I can’t attend.
I posted info about the National Banana Pudding Cook-Off in Centerville, Tennessee, US on the RTMG Facebook page just a few days ago. Their invitation made me want to whip up a batch of pudding and come on down to southern Tennessee. That’s what an invitation should do.
On Facebook, I and most Facebook users don’t want to feel like a number on someone’s “like” tally. When I receive canned, impersonal anything on my Facebook page it feels like spam.
Here are my suggestions for you and for The Shuswap, BC, Canada to improve your internet event marketing
Look at the brochure and consider a trip to The Shuswap, BC, Canada for this event. It looks like the family, hiker and world music lover’s place to be this summer.
Take a page out of the Shuswap’s book, and look for ways to cooperate with your neighboring small towns to create a destination event like the Shuswap’s, and be specific in your internet event marketing about who you’re inviting.
For The Shuswap, BC, Canada:
Target your Perfect Customers in all your event internet marketing – it should be clear that you want to attract families, hikers and world music lovers. Engage them with a clear message in words and pictures and everyone else will love the intimate vibe and come too.
Make your internet event marketing presence an attractor for your Perfect Customers. When I arrive at your homepage or Facebook page, let me see in three seconds that I’m in the right place. (My alter ego is that woman in the brochure with the sun hat and facepaint! But I had to search to find myself.)
Hire or tap a volunteer who knows how to write marketing copy geared to attract your Perfect Customer. Use verbs to tell me what I am going to experience, and I’ll fill in the flowery adjectives for myself when I come.
This is one of my most favorite places in the world! Let’s hear what suggestions you have for Shuswap Tourism. It’s clear that they are experts at small town events. Let’s help them become experts at Facebook and event internet marketing too .