After a long hiatus, the State of Connecticut has decided to reinvest in their marketing budget for tourism. The estimated $11.5 billion dollar industry has been without any outbound marketing initiative for two years, after budget cuts forced the Rell administration to cut back across the board. Unfortunately in this case, like many private sector companies, marketing was the first item to be axed. This decision was the wrong one to make, and now Governor Malloy has championed a $2.6 million dollar effort to bring back marketing of the state’s tourism assets. The campaign will include TV, outdoor creative, and a new initiative called “One Tank Getaways,” showing a myriad of short car trips that families can take to tourist destinations on just one tank of fuel.
This re-evolution of the state’s halted tourism industry marketing is a step in the right direction for Connecticut, and hopefully will lead to added business for stores, restaurants and hotels that feed off CT tourism. But there are a few things the Tourism department needs to take into consideration as it embarks on its new campaign:
- Target Audience and New Technology. $2.6 million is great starting point, but how it’s spent will make all the difference. It’s all about who you target and the media you use to reach that target. The way people consume media has changed so much in the last two years; it will be interesting to see how the marketing plan takes into account things like social media and mobile marketing, which did not dominate in 2009 like they do today.
- Added Media Value. Depending on which DMAs in the New York metro area they target, $2.6 million will only be able to go so far. Granted, it’s a heckuva lot better than $1, but a properly negotiated media buy with added value is going to be key for CT Tourism.
- Recycled Creative. It will be interesting to see if CT uses the money strictly for media or if they reinvest in a new creative campaign as well. Because of the state of the national economy at the time, it will be hard to find accurate research measuring the response of the public to the last tourism campaign. Was it working? Who knows. Will it work now? Maybe. Maybe not. We’re just hoping they did or are doing some fresh and thorough research before they launch the campaign this summer.
- The Gas Question. Highlighting the fact that gas prices are high in the state is a questionable move – one we’ve considered with many of our regional travel and tourism clients, and usually abandoned. The theory: everyone knows that gas is expensive. Instead of spending money to remind them of that, tell them all the positive things about your brand, and perhaps run promotions on where the target can save bigger dollars – at the hotels, restaurants and other businesses that need to benefit most from this tourism push.
This story will be interesting to follow as the campaign progresses. And as we watch our our tax dollars hard at work on the state’s tourism campaign, we all have our fingers crossed that they have taken 1-4 into consideration. Let’s wait and see.