Market for Success
To draw new people
and money into your community, develop a multi-year, many-tiered
marketing plan. Your goal is to reach your target
market and to seize opportunities to partner with local,
regional, state, or national groups. Include these four components
your marketing plan:
1. Public Relations
3. Graphic Materials
Keep in mind that developing a new domestic market takes approximately
three years and producing results from an international audience
takes five years—even when you use every one of the techniques
Public relations is a cost-effective way to get your message
out via the media. The third-party reporting often provides
more credibility for your area and creates additional angles
to “sell your story” with articles on people, events,
buildings, food or new activities.
Prepare a press kit (a folder filled with useful background
information) to introduce your area to journalists. Keep accurate,
current records of media contacts—local and also of journalists
in major markets (say, at magazines with a national readership)
that are interested in your subject matter. Keep separate lists
for electronic (radio, television and Internet) and print (newspaper
and magazine) media since their interests will vary.
When something newsworthy happens, or is about to happen—a
Christmas tour, for example, a visit by a group of Dutch dignitaries,
the award of a grant, the publication of a brochure for a new
cultural tour—announce it in a press release.
Arrange educational tours for travel writers and other members
of the media to acquaint them with your area’s attractions.
Arrange them for tour operators and travel agents, too.
You may not at first think of your own area when you think of
marketing, since new visitors come from marketing to outside
audiences. But building community awareness is both courteous
and an essential investment.
- Organize an educational tour for local officials to help
them understand and appreciate heritage tourism.
- Plan special
events for the general public to build enthusiasm,
and it might even produce more volunteers willing to
help with the work. Put on a special slide show, for example,
day at a museum, or a candlelight tour of historic homes.
out to children. For example, organize cultural or heritage
programs in schools to tie in to the requirements
to learn local
history or art.
- Have a community open house. Have residents
show their driver’s
licenses for free admission to area attractions, museum
Tools of a Public Relations
- Press kits
- Press releases
- Public service announcements
- Educational tours
Community Awareness/Special Events
Photo library (be sure to have electronic images!)
Crisis management plan
Use public service
announcements—short spots on radio
and television that are free to nonprofit organizations—to
publicize special events.
Make sure you document successes with photographs, and be sure
to include digital images, slides and prints in your image
library so you can find what you need. A reminder: journalists appreciate
high resolution digital images, good black and white photos,
and original slides (or at least first generation duplicates).
Audiovisual presentations, slide shows, PowerPoint presentations
or videotapes can give your story emotional and visual impact.
Set up a speaker’s bureau so you are ready to respond
to requests for information about your cultural heritage tourism
program with the names, addresses, and phone numbers of people
who are willing to make public presentations.
What if you have a fire at the museum or your area is hit by
an earthquake, a hurricane, or some other sort of natural disaster?
How will you contact the media and your target audiences? Have
a crisis management plan that specifies a key spokesperson and
outlines a response to crises.
An effective—though costly method—of marketing to
targeted audiences, advertising requires creation of a compelling
message and supporting visuals, appropriate media placement,
fulfilling inquiries, and measuring effectiveness.
When you advertise, match the medium to your message—and
your budget. Remember, advertising of any kind is effective only
if it is frequent enough. Consumers are so barraged with messages
from the media that YOUR message registers only if you repeat
Ads in newspapers and magazines, print advertising, are generally
less expensive than ads in electronic media like radio and television,
so cultural heritage tourism groups with limited budgets often
begin with print ads. Good ads depend on good materials—on
a simple message, crisp photos, and effective copy. Good placement
is essential as well, so buy space carefully.
Use ads on radio, television or the Internet, electronic
when your message is visual and you need immediate communication
with a target audience. Production costs add to the expense of
this sort of advertising for radio and television. Another limitation
is time: you must put your message across in no more than 60
seconds, and often as few as 15 seconds. A tip: radio ads can
be especially effective for promoting holiday activities and
other special events.
Through consumer advertising, you reach tourists directly whereas
trade advertising reaches travel-industry professionals. Use
“Co-op” advertising is a good way to share costs.
Multiple partners cooperate to produce advertorials or special
sections dedicated to their area or destination. Magazines and
newspapers provide special rates for advertising participants
which are usually matched with editorial information.
Use co-op ads when you are targeting a new market or entering
an expensive venue like a national magazine. For partners, consider
a regional or national travel organization, your state tourism
office, a department store, or a public/private partnership.
Note: you’ll need a budget for the special or increased
inquiries a successful cooperative venture produces.
Don’t think in terms of buying a random ad or two; do
think in terms of mounting a coherent advertisting campaign.
Plan to measure the results of the campaign. Did it produce inquiries?
How many? How many of the inquiries turned into actual visitors?
Find out how well this campaign worked so you can plan for the
Every community or region should develop an image package that
can be transferred to all graphic materials. A color scheme
or unique design element that appears throughout all the graphic
materials created by the area helps define the image of the
region and establishes an identification for the visitor.
Choose a logo, or graphic symbol, to fix the identity of your
cultural heritage tourism program. Use it widely and consistently
so it becomes closely associated with your program.
Developing a website has become an essential component of any
cultural heritage tourism marketing campaign. Keep in mind that
the website is just one tool, and you will need to find ways
to drive users to your website and ensure that your website is
in good working order.
Print brochures. Their primary purpose is to introduce visitors
to your area’s attractions, but you’ll use them in
other ways as well: include them in press kits, for example,
send them off to travel writers, display them at trade shows.
Most essential is a general destination brochure that you display
on racks at key locations: at your visitors’ center, for
example, and at historic, cultural, and natural sites. Develop
specialized brochures for special sites, special events, or special
tours—for a walking tour through a historic neighborhood,
for example, or a driving tour along a scenic byway.
Before you print a brochure, run through a mental checklist.
Who is the audience? Where will you distribute it—at a
state welcome center, or at a local visitors’ center, in
hotel racks, at trade shows? Do you have a place to store extra
materials? Do you have a website or 800 number, postage for mailing
and follow-up materials, or some other way to respond to direct
inquiries? To get the most for your money, don’t print
before you think about these matters.
Remember that visitors need directions and other specific information
on where to stay, where to shop, what to tour and where to eat.
Keep a visitor services directory on hand at the visitors’ center.
Done well, a directory solves problems for visitors AND promotes
To attract large groups of visitors to your area, prepare a group
services directory that describes special arrangements
and discounts for organized tours. Make it easy for tour operators
to market your destination. Besides supplying specific contacts
and price information, the directories can suggest themed or
Promote special tours—tours organized around a special
theme or aimed at a special group—by printing special
These itineraries can suggest a day, half-day, or multi-day itinerary
that includes tour options not available to drop-in visitors.
Put signs in the places where visitors will see them. Make them
legible—big enough to read, informative, and interesting.
International symbols help guide visitors to restrooms, information
centers, museums, or cultural centers, gas stations, lodgings,
and dining establishments. Signs with graphic symbols such as
logos help designate sites and roadways which are part of a regional
theme or identify a cultural heritage.
Sometimes the most effective sign is a map that highlights key
attractions or major features of a single attraction. Design
an accurate, attractive, easy-to-read map and you’ll find
many uses for it, in printed pieces as well as along a trail
or scenic byway.
Even when you have done your best to make all these graphic
materials attractive and informative, you won’t always
get them right the first time. So assess how well your materials
are working. Do you need more pieces? Different types of materials
to reach different audiences? Take time to find out.
When you take your area’s message to travel
you face expenses for exhibit design and erection, registration,
travel, staffing, and entertainment. But exhibiting at trade
shows delivers information straight to professionals who can
send visitors your way. It also gives you useful contacts. To
reduce expenses, find a partner.
To find out what shows are scheduled, check with your state’s
travel office. Also, contact local and regional tourism organizations
to learn what promotions they’re planning.
At consumer trade shows, you take your message directly to consumers.
The benefit: you reach the people who actually travel, sometimes
hundreds of thousands of them in the course of a large, multi-day
show. The cost: promoting your area at these shows is expensive,
since you need a vast supply of literature. After the show, gear
up for a lot of written, phone and electronic inquiries.
Sales missions take you to a specific city or country to call
on travel agents, tour operators, journalists, and other key
people to share information on your cultural heritage tourism
products. Airlines and regional, state, or national travel organizations
make good partners for these missions. Typically, a sales mission
includes not just meetings but also a special function that presents
some aspect of America’s heritage, like an exhibit of indigenous
Contests that connect soft drinks, foods or other products with
travel destinations give you another opportunity to reach new
markets through direct mail, grocery stores, or fast-food establishments.
Whew! There’s a lot you can do to market for success.
Jump in. Try things out. Learn as you go. Those tactics have
helped many communities entice visitors, as they can help yours.
A word to the wise. Make sure the experience a glossy brochure
leads visitors to expect is an experience your area can genuinely
offer. That is, marketing only what you can realistically deliver.
Marketing is effective only AFTER you are really ready for visitors.
It’s the last step for a reason.
Market. The Discover America International POW
WOW, held in early summer in a different city each year brings
international buyers and journalists together with U.S. suppliers.
The Travel Industry Association of America coordinates this
Group Tours. The National Tour
Association and the American Bus Association host conferences
each fall to connect hotels, travel
offices, visitor service companies and other suppliers with buyers
who develop and market group tours.
Heritage Tourism Initiative Project Manager:
Cheryl Hargrove, former Heritage Tourism Director, National Trust
for Historic Preservation
Editor for Electronic Version:
Amy Jordan Webb, Heritage Tourism Director, National Trust for
16 Pilot Areas participating in the National Trust Tourism
- Historic Southern Indiana
- America’s First Frontier
- Tennesee’s Natchez Trace
- Tennessee Overhill Experience
- Tennessee’s Backroads
- LBJ Heartland Area
- Mission Trail of El Paso
- Texas Cotton Republic
- Fox-Wisconsin Rivers Heritage Corridor
- Frank Lloyd Wright
- Lac du Flambeau Chippewa Reservation
- Wisconsin’s Ethnic
Special thanks to:
Susan Bloom and Anne Wickham, formerly of American Express Company
Peter Brink, Katherine Adams, Barbara Pahl, National Trust for
Prepared by the National Trust for Historic Preservation
Made possible by a grant from the American Express Company
1993, revised 1999, 2004
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