Economic Development, Tourism, Branding, Strategy & Planning
Getting Stakeholder and Community Buy-In to Build Your Brand
by Nancy Roque
Stakeholders are the key to delivering on your brand promise. Positive reception and involvement from stakeholders and their communities at all levels is not just a preferred condition for a successful destination marketing organization (DMO). It is imperative for success.
While getting stakeholder support is a common challenge, there are several strategies DMOs can use to get everyone into agreement. However, aligning your stakeholders with your destination branding strategies is an integral part of branding a community.
Simply taking the time to present your strategy and purpose can go a long way in bringing them over to your way of thinking. In fact, stakeholders who are involved earlier in the process tend to be more receptive because they have a personal attachment, or “stake,” in its success. Such things can include plans to solve a common problem, thus making it relevant to their own success. When you think of your stakeholders, ask yourself: how will you change or improve your stakeholders’ community? What does your brand have to offer them – and future travelers?
Why Your Destination’s True Brand Can’t Be Defined by a Marketing Strategy Alone
The best-laid plans of DMOs and men often go awry, and even the best brand strategy may not connect with visitors – that’s why you need stakeholder and community input to make brand magic happen.
At the heart of your destination’s true brand is a promise to visitors about the experience they can expect to have at your destination. Therefore, your marketing should focus on what visitors will feel and experience when they spend time there.
Because, at the end of the day, a positive brand delivers on their promise where a negative brand does not. Both experiences will be shared in reviews, on social media and by word of mouth. That’s why getting it right the first time is vital.
Getting to Know Your Destination’s Stakeholders
In order to understand the roles of stakeholders in your destination branding, it’s important to identify who the key stakeholders are. A stakeholder is anyone or any business who is involved in tourism in your region. Some other stakeholders that tourism planners should consider include institutions engaged in financing tourism projects, tourism educational centres and other specialized destination tourism organizations that play a role in your area’s tourism industry.
When getting to know your stakeholders, take the time to understand them and their world. Learn what their role in their community is. Familiarize yourself with their history. How would participating in your DMOs strategy help them accomplish? When you do this, you will begin to understand what they stand to bring to the table.
Because they have a stake in the success of the region’s tourism, it’s important to keep them informed on any decisions that might impact them. These could be stores, restaurants, the area’s residents, recreational businesses, national and local governments, etc.
Earning Stakeholder Buy-in for Your Destination’s Brand
Without support from your stakeholders, your efforts risk being significantly hindered. It takes a community to market a community, so make efforts to develop and nurture relationships with your stakeholders.
While there is no simple solution for earning stakeholder buy-in. But we’ve identified some strategies that we have seen work time and time again:
- Listen to your stakeholders’ needs.
- Your stakeholders have valuable experience when it comes to interacting with visitors and engaging with residents. In many cases, they are the feet on the ground when it comes to your destination’s efforts, so make sure you’re taking time to listen to their thoughts.
- Educate your stakeholders.
- This encompasses the task of equipping stakeholders with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions. From holding meetings to providing helpful materials, DMOs can be a valuable resource for their success.
- Communicate progress throughout the life of the project.
- Don’t just set goals. Establish a line of communication between your stakeholders performance. Reaffirm your goals and update stakeholders on the progress.
- Demonstrate the value of their support in your projects.
- If you hit an impasse, don’t wait until a regularly scheduled meeting to address it. Be willing to meet with your stakeholders outside of the usual schedule not only to keep the ball rolling, but to show you care about their values and their support.
- Outline the stakeholder’s investment and involvement.
- Summarize the project for your stakeholders, framing it with actionable items you may need from them and their team on a specific timeline. Not only will this move along your efforts, but also help include your stakeholders in their success.
With thoughtful and meticulous planning, you can give your stakeholders a vested interest in the success of your DMO. In turn, their investment will give you a better chance of success.
Shaping Your Brand With Community Support
Community support will shape your brand by using it as a platform or backdrop to exchange ideas and contribute content. For destination marketing, start by connecting with the community. Your brand represents them, so it’s important to get their input on how your community would like to be depicted.
Communities that are consistent with their brand provide consistent experiences for their visitors, which will attract visitors who will become brand loyalists. They also have the power to provide the most valuable and honest source of feedback for brands. Maintaining a strong line of communication with them will ensure promises are being kept. This also helps you offer an honest perspective of your community to visitors.
If done properly, a community can be a powerful and supportive strategy to develop your brand.
More Resources to Help You Elevate Your Brand
This just scratches the surface of how to elevate your brand with stakeholder and community buy-in. Tailored, carefully curated content, developed with their input that interests your visitors will keep them coming back to your brand.
Having a well-designed DMO website certainly helps to showcase your destination, but your branding can make or break your message. To learn more about how to use branding and marketing technology for your community, check out this blog.
If you’re interested in learning more, check out this webinar to learn more about destination branding from the experts at Bull Moose Marketing.
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