An essential aspect of the communication plan involves selecting the audiences, also known as targets, as it is not appropriate to address undifferentiated audiences (generalized and mass communication). Instead, it is crucial to select potential interested individuals for each message.
Mass communication, by its nature, being generic and not targeted, does not elicit a particular response from anyone within such a large group. Instead, it is necessary to address specific audiences, targets, segments, and targeted niches with specific messages that leverage their passions, interests, specificities, and unique needs within these narrower groups.
Clearly, a diverse and comprehensive offering can be directed at multiple specific targets, but each target should receive a targeted and unique message. It is possible to start with the product, offering, or experience and identify the target audience as those who can and want to enjoy that particular solution. It is also possible to start with niche targets, communities identified through studies or online reconnaissance, and based on their needs, inclinations, interests, and passions, re-evaluate the offering and communicate it in the most appropriate manner.
It is also important to differentiate communication for each target, even with the same offering, by differentiating attributes, characteristics, emotions, and suitable occasions for each target.
Especially with the advent of digital communication, it becomes easy and, in some ways, necessary to communicate a rich variety of messages for specific target audiences.
For example, mountain bike tourism, which is already a sub-segment of cycling tourism, further divides into completely different niches with specific and distinct needs, such as:
- Rail-trail riders: “Rail-trail riders” love non-paved roads or relatively easy trails with few obstacles. They are generally families who enjoy a relaxing afternoon ride on a converted disused railway path or an old cleared road to admire the landscape.
- Cross-Country riders prefer single tracks that cover a variety of terrains with a mix of moderate to difficult climbs and descents.
- Downhill riders are often found in ski resorts, taking their bikes on a ski lift and descending the longest possible mountain trail. Downhill riders often seek bike parks equipped with lifts or shuttle services.
- Gravel riders: “Gravel riding” is an increasingly popular form of cycling that combines aspects of road cycling and mountain biking. Gravel riders seek long routes on unpaved roads, gravel, and other non-paved roads like forest roads.
But the list of mountain bike tourists doesn’t end there and continues with All-mountain/Enduro riders; Four-cross/Dual Slalom riders; Freeride riders; Dirt Jumping riders; Trials riders; Urban/Street riders; Trail riding riders; Marathon riders (Fig. 3).
Fig. 3 – Different niches of Mountain Bike tourists (own elaboration)
In a future post, we will also discuss the concept of “buyer personas,” a more current and effective segmentation method that helps to further target the digital message, both for web marketing and, especially, for social media marketing.
In the following sections, we will continue with the main areas of the digital communication plan for tourism and address basic strategic questions.
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