Destination Marketing – Photos in Bloom

It’s time for your city to strike a pose. Whether you are in need of a new cover for your visitor’s guide or a timely cover photo for your city Facebook page, a high quality shot of your city at work or at play can go a long way. Why is that? Because the old saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words” really is true!

Visual content, both print and digital, is on the rise. In fact, 2014 was dubbed “The Year of Instagram and the Visual Social Web” by BusinessInsider. Research has proven that memory is predominately visual, so when you are looking to build credibility or give the impression of reality, a photo is the way to go. How can you apply the concept of visual engagement to your destination marketing efforts?

Easy: In three picture perfect steps.

1. Assess your assets

Look through your marketing materials and review your photo library to determine what you have, what you don’t have and what you know you could use based on your annual marketing and communications plan. While you are reviewing these materials, think about your messaging and your destination marketing goals – are the photos promoting your city in a positive manner? Are your printed pieces conveying the right image? Are your social media efforts engaging your target market as best as they can?

2. Say cheese

Based on your asset assessment, you should have a pretty good understanding of your current materials and their ability to meet your objectives.

For some of your bigger printed marketing pieces like your visitor’s guide, statewide travel magazine or billboards, a high-resolution professional photo is a necessity. Do you have one of those? If yes, perfect. If not, decide what your budget is and how many photos you need.

If you have a big budget, schedule a few photo shoots throughout the year to capture your city during each season. If you have a smaller budget, pick a time when the leaves are still on the trees and the grass is green and spend an hour or two shooting the main attractions. These high quality photos should cover the bases for major print projects and even website needs.

3. Let your community get social

As for social media and other digital needs, an avid Instagrammer, phone photo aficionado or community photo student can create magical images of your city at no cost. Cha-ching. Not to mention, photos captured through the lens of a cell phone typically are of the moment, on-trend and truly personal – perfect for showcasing the essence of your city.

Photos Build Credibility for Your City

Get ready for your photo finish! Now we’ve encouraged you to use a professional photographer, amateur shooters and community members to snap images of your city, but what we haven’t recommended is the use of stock photos. Why is that? Well, as I mentioned earlier, photos build credibility, and a stock photo won’t help paint a realistic image of your city.

Don’t rely on an over-used staged image to sell the best parts of your city. Instead, let the ones who live in or love visiting your community do it for you. So go forth and start a photo-driven campaign and bask in the glow of 150% more retweets, 104% more Facebook comments, and increased interactions both online and in real life.