Tourism SK newsletter highlights content strategy project
We loved working with Tourism Saskatchewan and are thrilled to have our work highlighted in their spring newsletter, Going Places. Check out their article below to learn how we collaborated with the Tourism Saskatchewan team on a content strategy that:
- improves customer experience
- inspires travel
- moves from traditional to digital content
Content strategy project delivers a roadmap for change
Many organizations face the same challenge – change is difficult. Traditional ways of doing business and techniques that have long been viewed as “tried and true” are hard to part with. The attitude – “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it” – can be deeply ingrained in the workplace culture.
The machinery may be fully operational and running smoothly, but is it keeping up?
In the competitive world of tourism marketing, simply keeping up is not enough. Tourism destinations and businesses can pull ahead in the race by being proactive, investing in research to understand their customers, and shifting gears and direction, if necessary. And if a major overhaul is required, where does a business start?
In 2016, Tourism Saskatchewan set the wheels in motion for a sweeping analysis of its consumer content across all of its marketing channels (print, online, advertising). The need was straightforward. A content strategy would identify efficient and effective ways to inspire travel, improve visitor experiences and adapt to an increasingly digital world. Diagnosing all of the functions and parts, however, was more complex.
Authors of The Language of Content Strategy explain content as a “business asset that we use to communicate to our customers, prospects, and investors. Content is how we communicate our brand, how we acquire and retain customers, how we drive our reputations, and how we build a social enterprise. It is the lifeblood of any organization.”
In November, Tourism Saskatchewan contracted Vancouver-based Content Strategy Inc. (CSI) to deliver a roadmap for navigating the digital age and employing tools and processes to ensure the right information and messages are reaching the right markets. The company makes content strategy its core business and is one of a limited number of firms in Canada that have expertise in this field.
Co-founder Kathy Wagner shared that CSI observes a common barrier among its clients across a wide range of organizations. “People are not always open to new ideas, to changing the way that they work and think,” she said. “We have found that industries struggle with many of the same issues. It’s the solutions that are different.”
An advantage from the start of the project with Tourism Saskatchewan was that two factors were clearly understood by everyone involved:
- The media landscape has changed, and the shift to digital communication has reduced the impact of traditional marketing tactics.
- Audiences expect to get their needs met through digital experiences. They are no longer captive audiences and are less trustful of brands.
Wagner and her colleague, Blaine Kyllo, managed the ambitious project and its aggressive timeline. They worked closely with the 11-member internal steering committee that was formed and with staff assigned to the project.
“It was critical to ensure that we had the right people at the table for the content strategy project,” Elizabeth Braitenbach, Manager of Communications, said. “Because this was a consumer-facing project, we needed to have a cross-representation of the Marketing and Communications division, as well as the e-Business and Technology department, which oversees the website and has responsibilities for data collection.”
Wagner and Kyllo led a series of onsite staff workshops and training sessions, and conducted external interviews, surveys and focus group sessions with consumers. A Findings and Foundations Report was delivered by February and included the results of focus groups held in Saskatoon and Calgary, as well as data from an online survey of more than 1,600 Saskatchewan, Alberta and U.S. residents.
A comprehensive content inventory and audit was performed. Over 100 corporate documents and research reports, along with the outcomes of internal stakeholder interviews and staff workshops, were evaluated. The findings shaped the basis of the Final Recommendations Report, delivered on March 31. The extensive report offered fresh approaches to conducting business, taking a digital-first approach. Strategies were presented that concentrate on a range of responsibilities, processes and functions, including:
- website information architecture, social media channels, print literature
- identification and detailed description of three primary consumer/visitor personas
- new content ecosystem
- consumer-focused content journey mapping
- governance model addressing content lifecycle, team structure, content engine, content toolkit, areas of responsibility
On the heels of submitting this report, Wagner travelled to Saskatoon to deliver a presentation to industry at the HOST Saskatchewan Conference. One of her main messages to delegates was to talk with and listen to their customers. “If you truly understand what they are interested in, what they want to know and what is important to them, then you are light years ahead of most people,” she said. “Too often, people don’t talk to their customers because they think they either know them or that they represent them.
Wagner commented on the uniqueness of working on a tourism-focused project. “Tourism Saskatchewan has a valid need to create ongoing regular content. People are looking for it, so it’s already a win. Your customers want content. It’s how they prefer to learn about tourism opportunities and destinations, and consuming content is enjoyable for them.”
The recommendations put forward by CSI build on foundational projects introduced in the past two years – the compelling tourism brand for the province, along with the identification of key visitor market segments. The new content strategy will create more effective and efficient internal processes, while the improved messaging and new approaches will connect with consumers and position Saskatchewan more competitively as a travel destination.