Marketing Planning 101: Three Tips to Stay Open for Business

When a well-intended local tourism promotion agency decided to shift their marketing strategy to promote more in-migration and job growth and take a bite out of a reported 14% unemployment rate, I was encouraged. Then their cheeky “Top 10 Reasons to Move Here” list ruined their best-laid plans.


Yesterday, I was intrigued by the business headline story in my local Bend Bulletin. It said “Bend (Oregon) is Open for Business: City hopes to lure businesses with new campaign focusing on outdoor lifestyle.” As a conscious capitalist with a passion for work/life balance, I was inspired to read further.


Visit Bend, our well-intended local tourism promotion agency, just launched a marketing strategy to promote more in-migration and job growth by showcasing the active outdoor lifestyle this region offers. This is a noble effort, given the reported 14% regional unemployment rate and heavy dependency on room tax revenues to keep our economy on life support.

It sounded like a good idea at the time. Then the campaign details began to border on the absurd.

Here’s how: the Visit Bend PR team launched a Top Ten list of reasons why CEOs should relocate to Bend. One of the reasons was: “A good powder day is a perfectly acceptable excuse to miss work.”

When I saw this reason, I thought I was hallucinating.

The Visit Bend campaign highlights what mistakes to avoid with your marketing planning…such as belittling the work ethic in the midst of 14+% unemployment.


It also sends a strong warning to business owners who excel in one area, and choose to replicate those skills in a completely different market, expecting the same results. Although Visit Bend’s heart is in the right place, they clearly did not test their messaging with CEO’s who actually want to grow their business and attract dedicated, passionate employees.

The campaign will backfire and will perpetuate the casual lifestyle that Bend is best known to promote. For many residents, work is merely a way to earn enough money to pay for your annual ski pass. Tell that message to your private investors, venture capitalists, and family members who expect and deserve to eventually enjoy the fruits of their labor. This Top Ten list is a surefire strategy for business shrinkage and fosters a culture of mediocrity.

Watch my latest YouTube video to hear three essential things you can do to avoid these mistakes and stay open for business (5 minutes, 51 seconds).

Here’s my unsolicited advice to the Visit Bend marketing team. Get back to basics. Focus on your strengths: promoting tourism. You designed some gorgeous, panoramic posters and online content to attract sports enthusiasts.

Oh, and next time, ask a seasoned CEO how happy she will be about her relocation to Bend when half of their workforce does a “no show” on a good powder day.

[Photos courtesy of Visit Bend]


Copyright 2010, Lisa Nirell. All rights reserved.

Lisa Nirell is the Chief Energy Officer of EnergizeGrowth®. She is one of the only marketing experts with 27 years’ experience advising and working exclusively with B2B growth companies. Lisa helps her clients improve their top line revenues and attract more ideal clients. Lisa has worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs, as well as BMC Software, Sony, Wells Fargo, Microsoft, and IBM. She is also the author of EnergizeGrowth® NOW: The Marketing Guide to a Wealthy Company.” Visit and today to download free educational resources and join the community.