Helping a community define its tourism marketing story.
Tourism Ucluelet, a destination marketing organization for a small town in Western Canada, was stuck. A small operation with just one full-time staff member, Tourism Operations had secured the funding for a significant website upgrade. They’d contracted a big city agency and had come to terms on the architecture of the site. There was just one problem: they didn’t have a strategic story.
Tourism Ucluelet’s storytelling problem was complicated. The town needed a compelling marketing story that would attract tourists, but they also needed a story with nuance. Nearby, another town had made its name by telling a story about a stylish coastal, resort life, but that positioning didn’t suit Ucluelet’s blue collar style. They needed a story that would sell. The also needed a story that townspeople would find authentic.
I got hired to fill the gap between Tourism Ucluelet and its web development agency. Together, we scheduled a two day Strategic Visioning Story Sprint for Tourism Ucluelet and its community. This facilitated session included 25 diverse community members, including bed & breakfast owners, tour operators, business people, politicians and local artists who represented a range of social and cultural backgrounds.
The goal of this session was to develop a compelling, strategic marketing story, as well as to include community members in the story building process, so that they would feel more included. To get there, the session included facilitated conversation and design thinking exercises aimed towards digging deep into the group.
Together, we revealed the story beneath the story:
By addressing these two problems head on, we were able to develop a new approach to telling the town’s story that felt more authentic — and, in the process, enabled Tourism Ucluelet to engage with a new demographic that the competing town was avoiding.
“Imagine this if you can. You have a small town, and the people have been here since the late 1800s, so there’s a lot of history in the area, and Jordan has to bring a cohesiveness to our message and bring a story out of a community that has a lot of different stories and a lot of different points of view, as any town will have. He took all these great voices from our community and history, and managed to work us through an entire process where late in day two we were able to understand what we were bringing to the world.
“All these people have chosen to be here. Let’s trademark that. We’ve built entire campaigns around that. Our new feature video, our new website — everything is built around the messaging, ‘Choose to Be Here.’ All of that because of Jordan.”
With the story had been uncovered and the underlying problems addressed head on, Tourism Ucluelet went back to its agency with the vigour and direction to complete their website. The new website relied heavily on the ideas developed during our creative session together.
Today, Tourism Ucluelet continues to use the ideas developed in our session to drive content marketing strategy and town messaging. It was an honour to work as a partner in messaging development — and it just goes to show that a few hours of clear, targeted conversation can straighten any story out!
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