At the Arizona Office of Tourism (the “AOT”) as Deputy Director in 1993, we prioritized premium magazine and television advertisements along with 800 numbers more prominently displayed than the advertising agency enjoyed – or recommended. At the time, the vast majority of the budget was dedicated to branded campaigns driving interest to the Official Visitors’ Guide (the “OVG”).
Just two years later we built AOT’s first website with John Hudak at Madden Media and the web was added as a distribution channel for the guide. And after 20 years, the pattern remains much the same as destinations continue driving significant interest to content on their website and the visitor guide.
Content is Queen
Of course, we all must now refer to the website and the visitor guides as Content Properties now. And all of these Content Properties collectively form our “portfolio” of Owned Media. But our Content is stuck in these Owned Media platforms. Why should your branded, premium content only be published once a year? Why should the content in your website mostly wait years for a website redevelopment? Why should you only get credit if someone consumes content on your website?
Discontent is King?
We hear similar rumblings at conferences across the country, including:
A city marketing director confides,
“As we tinker with content and our site redesign, our organic traffic is surely declining as are all my KPIs.”
A state executive director laments,
“Our new “content” is overwhelmingly “repurposed” social posts. We are plenty tactical in social platforms but little of that content is truly premium branded content.”
An agency account executive complains,
“Why does more and more of the marketing budget just get sucked into Google Adwords? I didn’t choose travel marketing as a profession to become a keyword mechanic!”
A city CEO wonders,
“Why does every content strategy presentation begin – and end – with a website content inventory? We are filling our website with more and more content. But is content truly the end of any strategy? What good is content without a fully developed audience?”
Audience Development Emerges
We believe a broader strategy of Audience Development fully unites the following elements:
|Content Creation:||Premium, branded content that people truly WANT to read;|
||Developing new audiences BEYOND your website, social channels and other OWNED MEDIA;|
|Amplification:||Providing social signals to truly elevate your content to your best audience.|
Audience is King
You know your content is brand worthy when targeted consumers are willing to read it outside your Owned Media. Top destinations distribute their OVGs with a host of partners (industry partners, travel trade, AAA, gasoline outlets, etc.). Why shouldn’t your top new “content” garner EARNED MEDIA partners in addition to the owned media of your website, Facebook.com/page and your Twitter/ page? The acid test for so- called “content” is attention from “paying readers” of other top web properties to your premium, branded stories.
The next time a “piece of content” floats across your desk, ask yourself if that STORY is truly working hard enough for you -- and your audience. Consider just when your brand relevance deserves your whole audience beyond the traditional boundaries of your owned OVG, website and social presences.
"Mac" has more than 15 years experience in working with destination marketing organizations, including his role as Deputy Director at the Arizona Office of Tourism. Mac's work with the tourism industry includes leadership positions with Arizona Tourism Internet Partners, Arizona Tourism Alliance Research Committee, and the Arizona Travel and Tourism Research Association.
As Madden Media's Chief Innovation Officer, Mac leads the development of online marketing solutions for tourism and travel destinations. His recent speeches in online trends include presentations at the Illinois Governor's Conference, the Western Association of CVBs, and the Georgia Governor's Conference. Mac earned both a master's in business administration and a law degree from Cornell University.