There are four dimensions that need to be examined in order to uncover key insights that lead to a believable, differentiating, relevant, memorable and deliverable promise of value for any destination. They are: the state of the brand; the competitive environment; the customer; and the current marketing plan.
- Examine your current position
Take some time for an introspective look at your current position in the market. Where did your destination’s current position originate? What does it continue to offer of value? How has it been represented in the past? What is the current perception 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 because honesty will bring you much closer to practical, usable insights.
- Review the competitive environment
Who is competing with you for the travelers you want to attract? What are they saying? How is it different, and how is it the same as what your destination has to offer? Is it the truth? What else competes for your consumers’ attention or leisure resources? Have you considered competition outside of your category or industry? Pull together every marketing piece you can find from your competitors. Reverse-engineer their advertising and marketing communications to see where they are focusing, how they are positioning their destinations. After you’ve completed this, you should have a good idea of where there is saturation in the competitive idea space and where there is opportunity for a fresh, differentiated position.
- Get to know your best customers
Take the time to get inside the heads of travelers who seek out destinations in your competitive space. What are their current perceptions of the category as a whole, your destination 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? And where do you reach them and engage them in meaningful ways?
- Analyze your current destination marketing plan
Where have you been applying your resources and spending your money? Is it in the same places you always have, or has your plan evolved with the times? Do you have tactics for both creating awareness and engagement? What percentage of your budget has moved online? How are you building presence in feeder markets? If your budget has been reduced, did you cut across the board or build a completely new plan that gets you the most for your money?