Executive manager of Destination Marketing for Tourism Campbell River and Region, Kirsten Soder, explains some of their ideas for marketing the region to the world. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror

Campbell River tourism marketing strategy getting close

Soft-launch of new campaign slated for mid-September

The team tasked with creating a new identity for Campbell River in terms of marketing the community to the world has been busy the past few months.

At a recent stakeholder meeting at the Campbell River Golf and Country Club with operators in the tourism industry, Kirsten Soder, executive manager of destination marketing for Tourism Campbell River & Region, said the team has developed a plan to make Campbell River more widely-recognized as a destination worth considering when planning your vacation and is looking to “soft-launch” a campaign as early as mid-September.

“We really need to start moving forward on some things,” Soder told the room, “and we didn’t feel comfortable doing that without first coming to industry and letting everyone know what we’ve been up to and where we’re headed.”

What they’ve been up to is redesigning how Campbell River will be marketed to the world.

While previous tourism strategies relied heavily on taglines like “Salmon Capital of the World” and “Discover Your True Nature,” the new strategy, Soder says, will rely more heavily on a combination of imagery from professional photographers and encouraging the visitors themselves to do the community’s marketing via social media while they’re here and then going home and continuing to share their stories. Those previously-used taglines will likely show up in future marketing, “because they have worked well here and have become part of the DNA of this place. We don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater,” but Soder also says the over-reliance on taglines and slogans themselves “can be very limiting.”

“When you’re talking about a brand, as far as a destination is concerned, we want to go way beyond a logo, a tagline and fancy fonts and colours. I mean, those things definitely come together to help represent a place, but at the crux of it all, we just want to make sure that we’re delivering a remarkable experience that our visitors are going to be able to buy into and rave about and take that back to wherever they came from and share that story.”

Part of how to do that, Soder says, is to “package and partner” the experiences being offered here to, “make it a more fullsome experience where people can’t even remember what they were like before they came to Campbell River.”

But that’s a matter of what the community does while they’re here. How do we get them to come in the first place?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the imagery presented as examples of how we will be portraying ourselves to the world relies heavily on the natural surroundings of the region – bears, eagles, shoreline landscapes and the like – but while Soder says the upcoming marketing campaigns will likely be heavy on natural imagery, it won’t be aimed exclusively at outdoor adventurers.

It’s about layers, Soder says.

“The experience is the sum of the parts, and we would never focus exclusively on whale watching or just focus on culinary. No two people traveling together are interested in the same thing, either. If you’re selling Campbell River to a mom with two kids, that positioning is going to look a little bit different than if it’s a young couple with no kids, or a retired couple or international travelers.”

And they’ll be changing up the imagery and messaging as they go based on what they’re feeling from the audience, according to assistant manager of destination marketing Carly Pereboom.

“We’re really sensitive to the fact that we have a growing audience and we need to have shots and images that are resonating. If it’s not resonating with them, we’ve got to change up what that imagery looks like, because it’s most important that everything we’re projecting out is attracting people to come here,” Pereboom says.

“And we can tell that based on our engagement rates,” Soder says. “A lot of what we’re going to be basing these things on is what our audience is reacting to and engaging with.”

Soder asks that anyone who would like to be a part of these exciting changes in marketing the area to the world to contact them to get on their mailing list to receive periodic updates and be consulted on possible marketing opportunities. You can do that by emailing campbellriver@destinationthink.com and they will send you a link. Soder is also hosting office hours on what she is calling “Tourism Tuesdays) beginning this week (Sept. 12) where stakeholders can book appointments. To speak with her about the process email kirsten@destinationthink.com

“The strong majority of both verbal and written feedback we’ve received to date from industry operators, the Tourism Advisory Committee and our elected officials has been positive,” Soder says. “The potential of the Campbell River tourism industry seems limitless; it’s deeply rooted in the ability of our residents and industry advocates to provide consistently remarkable visitor interactions and experiences, and there are ambassadors doing exactly that in our community.”