I admit it, I love this philosophy. Advertising is all about big ideas and we're constantly looking for ways to help our clients get big results. Unfortunately, this philosophy is sometimes misunderstood. “Go big or go home” does not involve reckless abandon. It's not always about spending big — throwing money around like an out-of-control member of congress. It's about not being timid when implementing a well-crafted solution to a marketing challenge.

A friend of mine who heads a Convention & Visitors Bureau for a town in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley has made this mantra work for her destination. She examined her community's top feeder markets, analyzed the effectiveness of different kinds of advertising media, and explored ways to stretch her advertising dollars (like participating in co-op opportunities). With confidence, she then launched an aggressive advertising campaign in a major feeder market where advertising space isn't cheap. It was a bold move, but it wasn't a shot in the dark. It was based on research and knowledge. She used her research as a springboard just as I described in a recent blog post. In every measurable way — website traffic, requests for brochures, Facebook 'likes' — the initiative was a success. Boldness when backed by solid strategy almost always pays off.

In recent weeks I've been poring over some examples of tourism advertising and it appears that some interpret "go big" to mean "go with a big exaggeration." Smaller destinations usually have charm and character and offer visitors wonderfully unique experiences, but they are rarely everything that every traveler seeks all rolled into one place. No single place on earth offers the stunning natural beauty of the Tetons, the cuisine of New Orleans, the nightlife of New York and the arts scene of Paris all with small-town hospitality and easy access, that is kid- and pet-friendly. Potential visitors see right through this kind of marketing. So, stop trying to be all things to all travelers. Finding the one or two things that differentiate the destination from everyone else and investing in a great campaign that sells their uniqueness would be the truly bold approach.


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