How to Beat the Big Boys…

Pure Michigan has received a lot of credit for its marketing program lately.

It looks like michigan.org will seal another year as the nation’s #1 Visited State Tourism Website.

And, within just 90 days of launch, michigan.org was rated the #1 Social Media Program (Gammet Interactive) for its aggressive push into social networking – boasting 20,000+ fans on their Facebook Fan Page, along with vibrant Twitter, and blog presences.

But it really shouldn’t be this way…

What about Hawaii, New York, Florida, and California; big states with “Nation-Sized” budgets and economies?  Tourism meccas blessed with the best climates on earth and larger than life attractions (Statue of Liberty, Disney World, Golden Gate Bridge)?

The answer is simpler than you think.

Michigan found a way to use the online channel to make its brand assets work smarter and harder. Let’s take a look at some of the key foundations for Pure Michigan’s dominance:

  • Full Participation for Every Marcom Stakeholder

Online marketing has as full seat at the table. Often, the lure of traditional media overshadows the blocking-and-tackling judo employed by digital specialists.  In Michigan’s case, digital was given the resources and attention it needed to deliver results.

  • Integration

Early on, the Travel Michigan team tied its objectives to the seamless integration of its web initiatives.  Our team at Fluency Media delivered digital programs that collapsed silos and combined the strengths of multiple platforms.

Quickly, we saw email marketing (still a killer app) spark rapid growth in all social media channels.  Integrating pay-per-click and SEO led to Michigan achieving top rankings on terms long dominated by private travel aggregators.

Across the board, integration proved its mettle by knitting together a formidable blend of tactics.

  • Rigorous Tracking and Testing

From the beginning, Michigan used analytics to guide decision-making and strategy.  Every meeting was led by reporting of quantitative results.

Over time, Michigan was able to parlay small improvements into dramatic increases in visitors, subscriber sign-ups, and social media participation.

Like all successful marketing strategies, getting started is the most difficult step.  However, Pure Michigan’s case study offers some fascinating insights into outwitting and outplaying larger rivals.

But if you don’t have the time or resources to build a “Giant Killing” marketing program from scratch, your best move is to work with an experienced partner that has already built the best practices to succeed.