The Power of the Brand - Bruce Turkel

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I’m sitting in a marketing committee meeting at the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB). The GMCVB is a very long-term client of ours and a great example of a client who ‘gets it.’

As with most committee meetings, we go around the room and each group stands up and tells their story, explaining what they did over the previous quarter and how they did it.

PR talks about their public relations activities. International talks about their outreach to Asia, Europe, and Latin America. The Film, Fashion & Entertainment committee gets up and talks about, what else? Film, fashion, and entertainment. Meetings and Conventions talks about… (I’m sure you’ve figured it out by now).

But as complicated as the GMCVB and the Miami destination itself are, the overriding theme of the meeting is the strength of the Miami brand.

It seems simple now, but it took a lot of work for the GMCVB and us to convince the power structure throughout our county to narrow our marketing focus from every community and every tourist asset to just five letters: M-I-A-M-I.

The newest Frank Ghery-designed performing arts center? It’s in Miami. The hottest clubs, restaurants, and hotels? They’re in Miami, too. The most important art, marine, and electronica music festivals? They’re all in Miami. Art Basel Miami and Design Miami? (Again, I’m pretty sure you’ve got it).

Thanks to these laser-focused community assets, and so many more, what consumers worldwide have responded to — and what our client understands so well — is that our most valuable asset is our brand — Miami.

How do I know this? Needless to say we analyze and evaluate all the available travel metrics, but I have an experience that hits much closer to home.

Twenty years ago when I’d travel, the people I’d meet around the world would ask me where I was from. I’d answer “Miami” and they’d say “Oh.” Now, two decades later, when people ask me where I’m from I still say “Miami,” and they still say “Oh.” The only difference is the way the say it. The “Oh” of 20 years ago was said the way you might respond to someone who just announced they hadn’t bathed in three months, while today’s “Oh” is said with the wide smile and happy enthusiasm usually reserved for a favorite uncle or a slice of chocolate blackout cake.

Incredibly enough, years of effort, millions of dollars, and the contributions of thousands of partners and participants all worked together to accomplish this goal — changing the perception of five letters in order to go from “Oh” to “Oh!!”

Has it been worth it? The R.O.I. says “absolutely!” Miami’s hotel ADR (Average Daily Rate) is now second highest in the country after New York City. Our hotels’ occupancy rate is also the country’s second highest, trailing only Oahu. More importantly, over the last 10 years, we’ve added a significant number of jobs to the Miami economy. And our visitors’ satisfaction rate – described as how eager tourists are to return – just keeps getting better and better.

All of this is thanks to the belief the leaders of the GMCVB — Bill Talbert, Rolando Aedo, Ita Moriarty, Al West, and the rest of the team – have had in building Miami’s singular brand. By concentrating all of our efforts on promoting a county made up of 36 municipalities and three million inhabitants through a focused consumer experience, we have been able to build a lasting legacy that benefits the entire community and has become the envy of the destination industry worldwide.

You may be wondering how you can benefit from the techniques that have built Miami’s marketing juggernaut. After all, the GMCVB has a multimillion-dollar budget, a well-trained staff, and the support of thousands of community partners. And some of our macro tools do require those kinds of resources. But the GMCVB has another secret up its collective sleeve. And next week we’ll talk about the micro tips and techniques that Miami has used to build its business. None of these micro-moves cost more than $100 and all of them are ideas you can put to use immediately to build your own brand.

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