Imagination Fuels Community Marketing

Robert Rose once said, “Marketing tells the world you’re a rock star. Content marketing shows the world that you are one.

Too often when we think about marketing our communities or businesses, we think in terms of how many pairs of eyes we can reach. Granted, reaching as many pairs of eyes as possible is critical to our success or our overall marketing mix, but if that’s the scope and sole focus of your marketing efforts, you’re completely missing the boat and will end up failing. .

Humans have several senses that are overlooked when crafting a marketing or branding message. Yes, the eyes are important. But let’s not ignore the senses of touch, smell, taste and hearing. Let’s face it, many of these other senses are quite, if not more powerful than the eyes. Think of the music you grew up with, think of the music that accompanies the Olympics, movies or TV shows. They conjure up powerful visuals in your mind.

When you walk into a restaurant, is it the words on the menu that captivate you or is it the smell of fresh coffee, bread, seafood and steak that ultimately wins you over. When you walk into a potential new home, is it the address and appearance of the property? Or is it a combination of that with the feelings of home, the smell of freshly baked cookies on the counter, or the image of what it would be like to live there that ultimately sells the property?

When you listen to music, do the lyrics of the song grab your attention? Or is it the beat and the rhythm that sucks you in? Is it the words on the window of a new car that capture you, or is it the smell of newness or the feel of the vehicle when you take it for a test drive?

But greater than all the examples above and the words or images the eyes see, there is the unrecognized meaning that we often overlook, the meaning of the imagination. The best way to sell your ideas, your community and your business is imagination marketing. What is imaginary marketing? In very simple terms, it is marketing in such a way that the consumer or potential customers imagine themselves in your product, business or community.


Some of the greatest marketing campaigns of all time revolve around this concept of imagination or content marketing. Whether you can be like the Marlboro Man years ago, jump like Michael Jordan while buying his designer shoes, be an Indy driver by buying a certain car, lose weight with this or that product, discover the burger that puts you mouth watering watching the ad, hearing the Coke sizzle on the screen forcing you to get up and buy a $6.00 cup of Coke, everything evolves to make you believe or see you with the product gain a particular strength or passion by simply purchasing the product.

What does this mean for a company or a community today? Communities must sell vision and imagination. They not only have to sell their events and attractions, but they also have to convince readers, viewers and listeners that they have to do more than just see it, they have to experience it and imagine it. If you think your city is musical, visitors should hear, see and experience music at every turn. If your city bills itself as a barbecue capital, promote the barbecue imagination to everyone’s taste buds 24/7. If you think your city is a Renaissance city, then adopt it and become a rebirth in nature. Whatever the hook, be a big hook that can catch big fish, not a hook looking for minnows.

Marketing and branding are very different. Although different, both are actually an art based largely on localized intuition coupled with good information and data. When it comes to marketing and branding your community or business, everyone will offer their two cents, but understand the true value of those two cents. Don’t just tell the world who you are, show the world what you are. This is the essence of imagination and content marketing. Let me conclude with the words of Albert Einstein. He once said, “Logic will take you from A to B. Imagination will take you anywhere.”

John Newby is a nationally acclaimed publisher, consultant, and speaker whose “Building Main Street, not Wall Street” column manages more than 60 communities. He can be contacted at: [email protected]

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