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From the Ground Up

Marketing a community to the outside world is a lot about discovering uniqueness and then finding the best channel to communicate that uniqueness to those who might want to visit.

In this column we will review examples of how some communities communicate their messages to a targeted market. In this case, the market is called historical tourism.

For communities that have historical uniqueness there are good channels in the historical tourism market. The Internet is becoming more prominent every day, but magazines are also a good medium. Articles in tourism-related magazines are probably the best way to get out the word about a historic community, but advertisements can also serve the same purpose.

A person can learn a lot reading advertisements. Especially if the ads are in the “Historic Travel” section of Preservation, the magazine of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The March/April, 2001 issue shows how variations on the historical theme can attract visitors and tourists. One technique is to take a place known for one thing and advertise another aspect.

Here’s the text of one such advertisement: Get close to the past. You can almost hear the cannons roar. A stark contrast to today’s serene environment along (this state’s) beautiful…coast. Make your next vacation one you’ll always remember.”

Do you think you know where this place is located? It is one of the following:

A. Gulf Shores/Orange Beach, Ala.

B. Brunswick and The Golden Isles, Ga.

C. Baltimore, Md.

D. Charleston, S.C.

I would be tempted to answer either “B” or “D.” Brunswick, Ga. and Charleston, S.C. are practically coastal towns, and both have a lot of history having to do with cannons. Baltimore is not a coast city, unless one counts the Chesapeake Bay. The Alabama beaches are almost always marketed for their sugar sand beaches and beautiful water. Hmm.

In this case, the advertisement is for the Alabama beaches of Gulf Shores/Orange Beach. If this sounds illogical, don’t forget that the ad appears in a magazine for people interested in historic preservation. By the way, the cannons roared at Ft. Morgan at the mouth of Mobile Bay.

Below is a matching quiz containing a few more of the historical travel advertisements in Preservation. Match the area with the partial ad copy.

1. Pennsylvania

2. Jekyll Island, Georgia

3. Helena, Montana

4. Havre de Grace, Maryland

5. Meridian, Mississippi

6. York, Penn.

7. Olde English District, S.C.

8. Bucks County, Penn.

9. Virginia

A. “Civil War Trails”

B. “Get to the bottom of history. Descend 300 ft. beneath the earth. Ride the rails. See the Birthplace of America’s Trolley System.”

C. “More to see. More to do. More to experience.”

D. “This turn of the century railroad hub today retains the best of the old and new.”

E. “The gold is gone, but the fun’s still here.”

F. “McCormick Reaped. McCormick, Rockefeller, Pulitzer, Macy, Morgan, Vanderbilt. Among America’s financial elite who reaped success and made (this place) their glittering retreat at the turn of the century.”

G. “Climb a lighthouse, explore the rich maritime history and visit the Decoy Capital of the World.”

H. “Just like the History Channel. Only in 3-D.”

I. “A film location for ‘The Patriot.’ Antiquing and historic tours.”

The answers are at the end of the column. Before seeing how well you did on the quiz, take a moment and think about which of the descriptions made you want to visit the area. Also think about which ones could apply to almost any community in the country.

Finally, before leaving this subject I must tell you about my favorite historical advertisement in the section. Here’s how it reads:

“Over 2,000 of the family’s original possessions on display. Including their dirty laundry. Shootings over a business dispute. A lawsuit between lovers for breach of promise. It seems the Civil War wasn’t the only time the Mabry-Hazen House found itself at the center of a war zone…And discover something more — that the most prized possession of these wonderful old homes isn’t their architecture or antiques. It’s their stories.”

Now there is a community I want to check out. Where is it? Knoxville, Tenn. Who knew?

Answers to matching quiz: 1-B, 2-F, 3-E, 4-G, 5-D, 6-H, 7-I, 8-C, 9-A.

Phil Hardwick’s column on Mississippi Business appears regularly in the Mississippi Business Journal. His e-mail address is phil@hardwick.com.


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