So many gulf coast beach destinations are telling consumers that their beaches AREN’T fouled that I can’t help but wonder how robust their businesses must have been before the oil spill. As I recall, a prolonged recession, increased competition, reduced consumer confidence and many other reasons had already softened most of the destinations’ business. Why is it then that they feel that by just announcing “We don’t have greasy beaches yet” the consumers will arrive in droves? Since when was telling people the reasons why they shouldn’t not come considered good marketing?
Eat here, our restaurant isn’t dirty.
Drive our car, it’s not unsafe.
Wear our jeans, they don’t make you look fat.
Thanks to Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, even most politicians have learned that defending a negative doesn’t work:
“I am not a crook.”
“I did not have sex with that woman.”
Saying “we don’t have oil” or the positive version – issuing “clean-beach guarantees” – is more of the same – telling people why they shouldn’t not come. Instead, thoughtful messaging for the near future (and for the next several months) is critical, particularly in markets that were hurting before anyone ever heard of the Deepwater Horizon.
The good news is that an opportunity actually exists in this crisis that shouldn’t be missed. Resort areas should seize the opportunity to highlight their strongest selling points and not just make the beaches look inviting. Negative perceptions have already been developed even if there isn’t oil on the coast of Florida, yet many tourists pick their destinations for reasons beyond the beach. And with all eyes on the region, now is the perfect time to show those eyes what they’re missing. At least the positive parts.