Our experience shows us that there are four steps integral to uncovering truths and determining which contribute to a believable, differentiating, relevant, memorable and deliverable promise of value for any destination:
- Peeling back the onion
- Analyzing the competitive idea space
- Identifying the true relationship drivers
- Getting intimate with the consumer
Peeling back the onion
Take a good hard look at your place in the world, from an outsider’s perspective. Where did it originate? What does it offer of value? How has it been represented in the past? What is its current positioning in the mind of the consumer, and what is its current market position? How about the people behind it? What are they thinking and saying? How do they act? What do they really believe? What do they really think of the travelers that find their way here? Tell the truth and nothing but the truth.
Analyzing the competitive idea space
Take a look at all of your competitors. Reverse-engineer their advertising and marketing communications to see where they are focusing, how they are positioning their destinations. What are they saying? How is it different, and how is it the same? Is it the truth? After you’ve completed this, you should have a good idea where there is saturation and where there is opportunity in the world of ideas.
Identifying the true relationship drivers
Identify all of the attributes in the category and do a gap analysis to determine which of these are the relationship drivers for the category, and for your destination. Are the drivers tangible or intangible? Which attributes do you need to do well just to be considered? Which offer the highest return on investment and which aren’t worth spending time or money on? Don’t be afraid to invest in consumer research (qualitative or quantitative) at this stage. Good fieldwork and analysis will deliver decision support tools for a decade or more.
Getting intimate with the consumer
Among travelers who seek out destinations in your competitive space, what are their current perceptions of the category as a whole, your brand and those you compete with? What keeps them up at night? What interests them, makes them happy, and can improve their quality of life. Focusing on the relationship-building drivers, ladder up the list of attributes to get to the place that resonates with consumers emotionally. What are they willing to believe about your place that is somehow different and more desirable than the competition?
The bottom line
It may not be so plainly evident, but uncovering the truth is the key to finding a position that will be meaningful, different, and ownable over the long term.