Category Archives: Economic Development

6 Reasons To Think Mobile

“Because Google says so” apparently wasn’t a good enough reason for a client’s CEO to say yes to making his websites mobile-friendly.

We were reviewing a client’s web presence and one of the first things we noticed was that none of their three websites were mobile-friendly. We mentioned this to our contact and he said, “Oh I know, but our CEO will need some numbers and data to convince us to re-do our websites.”

If you or your CEO is needing additional convincing, we’ve compiled 6 data points and reasons to think mobile.

1. Because Google Said So. Remember “Mobilegeddon? The day this past spring when Google’s new mobile-friendly algorithm went into affect? The change made it easier for users to find content formatted for their devices (smartphones, pads, etc.) The change is bad news for websites that aren’t mobile-ready – ones with large text, easy-to-click links, and that resize to fit whatever screen on which they’re viewed.

Mobile-friendly sites will be ranked higher in Google search. Websites that aren’t mobile-friendly will get demoted.

“A lot of small businesses are going to be really surprised that the number of visitors to their websites has dropped significantly. This is going to affect millions of sites on the web,” said one industry expert on the verge of Mobilegeddon.

2. More Mobile than Desktop. We are now past the mobile “tipping point” as a report from comScore shows. More people are using mobile devices than desktop devices.Mobile Number of Global Users

 

3. More Mobile than Desktop 2. Mobile media time is now greater than desktop and other media. 51% of internet usage is through mobile. 42% through desktop or laptop.

Mobile Internet Usage

 

4. More Mobile than Desktop 3. The trend in mobile device usage (‘vertical screens’) compared to desktop/laptop usage shows 2.8 hours of our days are spent on mobile screens vs. 2.4 hours on desktop or laptop screens.

Mobile Time  Spent on Screens

 

5. Search Begins on Mobile. Google’s mobile path to purchase report surveyed 950 US consumers across 9 different verticals to assess how they researched purchases via mobile. A key finding is the starting point for mobile research. As might be expected search was the most common starting point, but it’s lower than desktop showing the importance of branded apps and mobile sites.

Mobile Search

6. Enhancing the Visitor Experience. What experience are visitors to your website having on their mobile device? If they are finding the desktop version on their smartphone, they are finding small text and hard-to ‘click’ links. They are enlarging and scrolling left and right, left and right. We’ve all experienced it. It’s not a pleasant experience.  Give users the best experience on the devices that they’re actually using to access your site. It should be simple for shoppers to make a purchase directly from their mobile device.

Wondering about the state of your website? Is it mobile-friendly? Could it offer visitors a better experience?

Right now we’re offering a free scan of your website. Actually we’ll run it through three scans. We’ll provide you 10 tips to improve your website. Email me today. Let me know which website you’d liked reviewed and we’ll get right on it!

A Logo Is Not a Brand

Casper, Wyoming, has “released a new brand” OilCityWyo.com announced last week. It would have been okay if it was just poor wording that a business or destination could release a new brand. But it was aided by the destination marketing professional when he stated, “This community has never had a brand and you get one shot.” Sorry, Aaron McCreight, but Casper has had a brand since the city was founded after the Fort closed. It may not have had a logo to communicate the brand, but it’s had and has a brand.

This isn’t intended to pick on Casper and Aaron. They are merely the spark to share a piece I dusted off recently: A Logo Is Not a Brand

Lots of organizations come to our company, Advertising for Humanity, asking for “a new brand.” They typically mean a new name, or icon, or a new look and feel for their existing name. Lots of people think that brand begins and ends there – that once we shine up the name they can stick it below their email signature, pop it on their website, and, voila, they have a new brand. Much of our work consists of disabusing people of this notion.

Brand is much more than a name or a logo. Brand is everything, and everything is brand.

Brand is your strategy. If you’re a consumer brand, brand is your products and the story that those products tell together. Ikea’s kitchen chairs’ tendency to fall apart after two years is part of the company’s brand. If you’re a humanitarian organization, brand is your aspirations and the progress you are making toward them. Share Our Strength’s audacious goal to end child hunger in America in five years is its brand. The work the organization is doing to get governor after governor on board is its brand. Its seriousness is its brand. Back in 1969 NASA didn’t have the best logo. But man did it have a brand. It has a nicer logo now – but the brand no longer stands for anything. If you don’t know where you’re going or how you’re going to get there, that’s your brand no matter what fancy new name you come up with.

Brand is your calls to action. If Martin Luther King had offered people free toasters if they marched on Washington, that would have been his brand. Are your calls to action brave and inspiring or tacky? Are the consistent with some strategy that makes sense? Getting more Facebook “likes” isn’t a strategy, in and of itself. If you’re a humanitarian organization, the things you ask your constituents to do are your brand.

Brand is your customer service. If donors call your organization all excited and get caught up in a voicemail tree, can’t figure out who they should talk to, and leave a message for someone unsure if it’s the right person, that’s your brand. It say you don’t really care all that much about your donors. If they come to your annual dinner and can’t hear the speaker because of a lousy sound system, that’s your brand. It says that you don’t think it’s really important whether they hear what you have to say or not. If the clerk at your checkout counter is admiring her nails and talking on her cell phone, she’s your brand, whether she’s wearing one of the nice new logo caps you bought or not.

Brand is the way you speak. If you build a new website and fill it with outdated copy, you don’t have a new brand. If the copy is impenetrable – a disease of epidemic proportion in the humanitarian sector – that’s your brand. If you let social service jargon, acronyms, and convoluted abstractions contaminate everything you say, that’s your brand. If your annual report puts people to sleep, that’s your brand. If it’s trying to be all things to all people, that’s your brand.

Message is the central part of your brand, but message alone cannot make a great brand. How many times have you encountered a product or service that didn’t live up to what the copy writers told you about it? That disconnect is your brand.

Brand is the whole array of your communication tools. Brand is the quality of te sign on the door that says, “Back in 10 minutes.” It’s whether you use a generic voicemail system with canned muzak-on-hold, or whether you create your own custom program. The former says you are just like everyone else and you’re fine with that, the latter says you are original. You might have a pretty sale banner that adheres to all the right visual standards, but if it’s sagging and hung up with duct tape, that’s your brand. It says you don’t pay attention to the details. Can you imagine seeing a crooked banner with duct tape in an Apple store? Never. And that’s their brand. It says that the motherboard in the Mac isn’t hanging by a thread either.

In the digital age, user interface is your brand. If your website’s functionality frustrates people, it says that you don’t care about them. Brand extends even to your office forms, the contracts you send out, your HR manuals. Do you rethink traditional business tools or default to convention? The choice you make says a lot about how innovative your brand is.

Brand is your people. Brand is your people and the way they represent you. Having a good team starts with good hiring and continues with strong and consistent training and development. No matter how well your employees adhere to your new brand style guide, if they couldn’t care less about the job they’re doing, that’s your brand.

Brand is your facilities. Are the lights on, or is your team working in darkness? Is the place clean and uncluttered? Does it have signage that’s consistent with your visual standards? Does it look and feel alive? You home is your brand.

Brand is your logo and visuals, too. A great brand deserves a great logo and great graphic design and visuals. It can make the difference when the consumer is choosing between two great brands. But these alone cannot make your brand great.

Ultimately, brand is about caring about your business at every level and in every detail, from the big things like mission and vision, to your people, your customers, and every interaction anyone is ever going to have with you, no matter how small.

Whether you know it or not, whether you have a swanky logo or not, you do have a brand. The question is whether or not it’s the brand you really want.

Copyright 2011 Harvard Business School Publishing. All rights reserved. From http://www.hbr.org. By Dan Pallotta.

It’s Legislative Season – How to Play a Role

Like Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of Summer, last night’s State of the Union Address by our President marks the unofficial start of Legislative sessions, not just in Washington D.C., but in capitals in every state. How are you engaging in the process? You cannot leave it to your state association to advocate for you. You have a responsibility as a business owner, industry leader, voter, to engage with your Legislator.

I dusted off a piece How to Play a Key Role In Our Representative Form of Government. I did not pen it. I would freely give credit to the author but there is none so with that disclaimer of plagiarism, here’s How to Play a Key Role In Our Representative Form of Government:

Get to know your local Senator and Representative. You should become personally acquainted with your senator and representative. Take a sincere interest in them, and get  know their political philosophies. If you contact your legislators only when you want their support on a legislative matter, it may be too late. It is better to be in touch with them throughout their term of office, thereby creating an ongoing, working relationship.

Make sure your local views are heard and listened to. Few people ever contact their legislators. This reluctance usually results from the belief that legislators have no time or inclination to answer their phones or read their mail, and that one single contact will not make a difference anyway. In most cases, these views are wrong. Thoughtful and persuasive contacts can change a legislator’s mind and bring about a review of his or her positions.

Arrange for meetings when your legislator are back in the district. Talk to your legislators when they are back home as they are more likely to listen and respond positively in a local environment – on your turf. Your senator and representative need to directly exposed to the people they represent – including you as a local businessperson/community leader. They need to know what you think about the issues facing your community and the state, and how legislation pending in the capital will affect your operation. That is why they are in the Legislature.

Helpful Hints:

Know the Procedure – How does a bill become a law?

Evaluate the Issues – Give priority in your lobbying to important issues.

Deal with Principles – If your legislators really support business, most of your battles are won.

Recognize their Problems – Your legislators represent all of the constituents in your area – rural and urban, rich and poor, liberal and conservative, business and labor. Try to understand their problems, outlook and objectives.

Never Threaten – Never threaten political or other consequences if your legislator refuses to see an issue your way.

Inform Allies – If you request introduction of a bill by your legislator, let potential allies know.

Communicate in a Timely Manner – Contacts with legislators before a committee vote and before floor action by the committee of the whole. In both chambers of the legislature, are most effective.

Be Accurate – Be sure to have accurate facts and good arguments about any issues you discuss with your legislators.

Do Not Be Argumentative – Make your point, but do not engage in a quarrelsome debate.

Follow Up Your Request – If you have made your request for a certain action – in person, by letter or telephone call – follow it through.

Show Your Appreciation – When your legislators do a good job on a piece of legislation, tell them about it. Do not take it for granted that they know you are appreciative of their efforts.

Give Them Your Support – If you believe your legislators deserve re-election, do not hesitate to get involved when they are campaigning for another term.

You have additional tips or hints you’d like to share? Or an antidote to support any of the points above? Please share with us below.

Thanks for reading.

Tourism Industry Undervalued – Needs Repect

At a recent town hall meeting, Oklahoma Lt. Governor Todd Lamb made a pretty good case that the tourism industry is one of, if not the most undervalued industry. “Few grasp the tourism industry’s impact on Oklahoma. They don’t realize U.S. travelers spend $7.2 billion in Oklahoma in 2012 or tourism generated $385.3 million in state taxes – the third largest revenue stream in state government – and $188.5 million in local taxes that year.”

rodney no respect

Beyond the numbers are all of the issues destination marketing professionals have to deal with. I recently spoke to a Chamber Leadership Class about issues related to tourism. After I shared my list, they started sharing theirs and frankly, I was speechless.

There’s the issues to be expected:

– the belief by residents that there’s ‘nothing to do’ and thus, they don’t help promote the destination.

– the lack of a high-class, ‘white cloth’ restaurant

– the lack of night life

– the lack of quality and variety of retail

– the need to improve downtown

But then there were the issues that again, left me speechless. Destination marketing professionals work with real estate developers, volunteers, elected officials, our Chambers and economic development offices to spur growth in our downtowns, add variety to the retail mix (or add retail to a heavy office use.) We work to beautify our entryways and make good first impressions.

How do you deal with out of state oil companies that don’t ‘buy into the local community’ through sponsorships or volunteerism? They certainly don’t show appreciation to the community by keeping their work spaces clear of debris or mowed (let alone landscaped.) What’s the solution to those same companies that over occupy the hotel rooms and stain them with their dirty, grimy work boots and clothes? And find an answer to very high paying drilling positions – so high that mothers and girl-friends don’t have to find a job leaving many retail and service (restaurant) jobs left unfilled.

Then there’s drugs. I have been privileged to go through DMAI’s Certified Destination Marketing Executive program and countless tourism conferences. Never once did the subject of drugs come up. But in some destinations, it is a real issue that is affecting tourism.

Too many believe a CVB simply places ads, mails visitor guides and on occasion, put on an event. Destination marketing involves management of the issues related to the community as an attractive destination to visitors – valuable visitors spending a LOT of money – so much money that, at least in Oklahoma, tourism is the third largest revenue generating industry in the state. That is a profession worth some respect.

The Fifth P of Marketing

A colleague at a recent tourism function was sharing how her DMO was getting in a “turf war” between the City and the Chamber – both trying to take over the management of the organization. She concluded by sharing ‘I’m staying out of it. I’m not in politics.’ A few of the glancing looks from others at the table communicated that we were thinking the same thing, “Oh yes you are like it or not!”  (And you’d better engage now or you may find yourself in a place you aren’t going to like!)

 

I thought going from a DMO to an attraction I’d find less politics. Boy was I wrong. On the heels of her statement above, I thought I’d dust off this post from April, 2011. Still as timely today! 

 

Remember the Four Ps of Marketing?  Product – Price – Placement and Promotion.  It’s Marketing 101. It’s the core of what we do – destination development (Product), drive hotel rates (Price), advise on the location of the attractions (Placement), and of course advertising and media relations (Promotion.)  But the longer I spend in destination marketing, the more I realize there is indeed a fifth P of marketing.  That fifth P is Politics.

 

I once read that destination marketing professionals are “politicians with marketing skills”.  And while I don’t like to consider myself a politician, I recognize more and more frequently that we do a lot of politic-ing.  Consider that…

 

– The CVB was active in recent City Council elections.  We assisted with candidate profiles and submitted questions for the candidate forums.

 

– Recently we’ve monitored and spoke on City issues related to business lighting and storm water runoff.  Further back, we took a stance on a state education issue and supported both a parks master plan and funding for a business park. (Following this post, we monitored and spoke on high density housing near a popular shopping district and engaged in the passage of a bond issue to improve one of the main corridors into the destination.)

 

– I accompanied our Chamber of Commerce on a ‘fly-in’ to DC to meet with our five representatives and Senators. We also met with NOAA as weather is big business in Norman! (Delighted to see my successor continued the practice!)

 

– In the near future we’ll discuss raising the transient guest tax and the split of that tax to maximize it’s economic impact on the local economy. (It passed increasing the DMO budget by $250,000.)

 

US Travel Association has long recognized the fifth P of destination marketing.  DMAI is engaging more and more in advocacy.  A committee is developing a tool kit for a community to utilize.  Not soon enough as we spend less and less time on the Promotion side of our jobs and more time on the Politics of our job. Update: that tool kit has been developed. It and many other resources can be found here.

 

It’s not the customer interaction we crave. It’s not the full conference hall corridors we like to see. And it’s not the dynamic new advertising creative we like reviewing but politicking has become a vital part of our jobs. Again, like it or not.

 

I’d love to hear success stories or best practices.  Please share those below.

Reminder: Tourism IS Economic Development

Another community leadership group has asked me to speak about tourism and it’s impact to the businesses and entities the classmates represent.  No problem.  Do it all the time and am happy to do so!  What shocked me was the coordinator’s request for me to share how tourism works WITH economic development.  In response I replied I would be more than happy to share how tourism *IS* economic development.  She seemed startled at the response and concept.

While CVBs / DMOs are fighting for our relevancy and possible existence, here we are still with some at square one: what we do impacts the community economically and thus, we – tourism – IS economic development.  I know I am preaching to the choir but for the sake of reminding us, here’s in part what I plan to share with them…

1. Even Economic Development defines tourism as economic development!  In the definitions on EconomicDevelopment.net, Economic Development isabout increasing the flow of capital through the community.  They define tourism’s focus as providing services to pleasure travelers and increasing the flow of capital, especially in the form of money, into the places (the communities) they visit. By definition, tourism IS economic development.

Image

2. DMAI’s CDME courses puts it this way… the temporary movement of people (TOURISTS) to destinations outside of their normal place of work and residence, the activities undertaken en route to an during their stay at these destinations and the facilities / services created to cater to their needs (TOURISM), which leads to economic impacts generated by these activities (TOURISM INDUSTRY).

3. It ain’t just hotels, restaurants and attractions… plumbers fix the toilets at hotels… restaurants deposit money in banks, dry cleaners clean uniforms worn by attraction associates, the gal that cuts my hair has to make someone in the tourism industry look good, printers print promotional material, real estate agents sell houses to hotel employees, car dealerships sell cars to amusement park employees… need I go on?  Those are just the easy ones!  Those amusement park employees put gas in their cars – gas comes from oil – all you oil drillers and refinery workers, we welcome you as members of the tourism industry!

4. Just look at the numbers…  Domestic travelers spent $7.2B in Oklahoma in 2012 making tourism the 3rd largest industry.  Kansas boasts $8.3B in expenditures in 2011.  Your state probably has similar reports to Oklahoma and Kansas.  The US Travel Association has numerous research reports outlining travel’s impact on the economy.

5. But sometimes a simple statement can summarize points better than all the above…Chris Thompson, President and CEO of Brand USA put it this way at the DMAI Convention this past July: There is nothing about economic development that doesn’t begin with a visit.

Take pride!  What you do is important to the community!  You / we ARE economic development!

Thanks for reading!