In April of 2003, the Cape Girardeau Convention and Visitors Bureau enlisted the services of Northstar Destination Strategies, a Nashville based firm that specializes in helping communities identify their strongest attributes and build brands around that information. Seven months later the extensive research and accompanying reports have been completed and presented to the Cape Girardeau Convention and Visitors Bureau.
"Northstar Destination Strategies used a trademarked process called Destination BrandPrint to develop Cape Girardeau's brand," said North Star Destination Strategies president Don McEachern. "The process involved extensive research, strategic planning, and creative work, such as the development of logos, positioning statements, and advertisements."
First, Northstar looked at where Cape Girardeau's brand has been and why. Past and current positioning includes the River City, Escape to Cape, Celebrate Life on the Mississippi and most recent and notably the City of Roses on the Mississippi River.
The Vision Survey portion of the BrandPrint provided needed insight ...
When your first think of Cape Girardeau, what three adjectives first come to mind?
What is Cape Girardeau?
The center for commerce, transportation, entertainment, health care, and education for Southeast Missouri and Southern Illinois
Best kept secret west of the Mississippi River
In your opinion, what are the top things in / about Cape Girardeau that attract visitors?
The Mississippi River
In your opinion, what are the top things in / about Cape Girardeau that attract businesses?
In your opinion, what are the top things in / about Cape Girardeau that attract residents?
Cost of living
What is Cape Girardeau's greatest asset?
The Mississippi River
What do people that have never been to Cape Girardeau think about Cape Girardeau?
A nice town with many parks, shopping and friendly people
A good, short stopping place between St. Louis and Memphis
It's the home of Rush Limbaugh
In your opinion, what are the top three things in / about Cape Girardeau that prevent potential visitors from visiting?
Lack of marketing / advertising
Poor roads / bad traffic
If you could add something to Cape Girardeau, what would you add?
East / West highway
If you could take anything away from Cape Girardeau, what would you take away?
Lack of city unity
What are the biggest challenges currently facing Cape Girardeau
Lack of vision
If you could make Cape Girardeau even better, what would you do to improve your city?
Develop more attractions - better infrastructure
Improve access and signs to historic sites and buildings
What does Cape Girardeau add to Missouri?
A prominent regional center for the Bootheel section of Missouri - economically and culturally
A wonderful, growing community which welcomes outsiders with open arms
River heritage, history dating back to the first explorations of the west
In the context of tourism, what does Cape Girardeau aspire to be?
The best river town on the Mississippi
An all American hometown with strong values and a real sense of community among its residents
A regional medical hub that provides a home with good values and standards
If Cape Girardeau were a person, who would this person be?
Age: 30's and 40's; experienced enough to understand life and still young enough to move forward and progress
Marital Status: Married; stability and growth
Children: Yes; children are the hope for the future
Occupation: Primarily blue collar service; that's where the jobs are
Wardrobe: Jeans and clean shirt; simple, but proud and dedicated
Personality: Honest, hardworking, caring
Current Issues: At a crossroads; do we want to grow or stay the same?
If Cape Girardeau were a song, what song would it be and why?
Old Man River; We wouldn't be here without the river; our city began because of our location on the river
If Cape Girardeau were a famous person, who would it be and why?
Rush Limbaugh; He reflects the town precisely as most of the community is conservative.
The Visitor Origin portion of the BrandPrint also provided a number of key findings ...
The St. Louis DMA represents the largest visitor market with approximately 20% of total visitors.
The Paducah - Cape Girardeau DMA ranks second with over 13% of total visitors.
Half of the top ten markets are within the state of Missouri, and roughly 90% of the top markets are within one day's drive
The Inquiry Origin portion of the BrandPrint reflected the following ...
The St. Louis DMA again ranks as the highest responding market with over 11% of total inquiries
Top 4 inquiry markets are also top 4 visitation markets. This reflects a strong conversion rate among the top 4 markets.
60% of the top ten inquiry markets are found within the top ten visitor markets, which again reflects good conversion rates.
As a part of the Destination BrandPrint, Northstar also provided the Cape Girardeau Convention and Visitors Bureau with proprietary Demographic Modeling statistics and visitor profiles utilizing the PRIZM analysis. The reports in this analysis will help us answer two of the most fundamental marketing questions: Who are the targets that we most want to reach? and What are they like? Answering these questions is an essential step in designing a well-focused target marketing campaign that will make the best use of our marketing dollars.
The strategy for identifying our marketing targets is based on two tried and true observations:
The best visitors are existing visitors.
Birds of a feather flock together. In choosing a place to live, people tend to seek out neighborhoods compatible with their lifestyles, where they find others in similar circumstances with similar consumer behavior patterns. Once established, the character of a neighborhood tends to persist over time, even though individual residents come and go.
By identifying the types of neighborhoods in which we find our existing visitors, we can accurately predict the types of neighborhoods where we will find our visitors in the future and develop targeted marketing plans that will focus on those areas.
The PRIZM analysis will help us identify our targets (our existing and prospective visitors by determining their PRIZM clusters - the type of neighborhoods where they live.) This analysis examined the lifestyle and profile characteristics of Cape Girardeau's current visitor base. The objectives of this analysis were to determine:
The consumer market segments that have a high potential to visit Cape Girardeau.
The lifestyle preferences of Cape Girardeau's visitors, so as to make it easier to develop practical marketing strategies.
The Visitors Perception Study portion of the BrandPrint gave us insight into visitation motivation and brand perception...
People visit Cape Girardeau because of ...
A stop on their way to another destination
A river cruise stop
Pass-through visitors found Cape Girardeau to be an interesting city and wanted to do more, but were unable to successfully find their way downtown from the interstate. As a result, their experience in the city was limited to shopping and restaurants, but they did express an interest in returning.
River cruise visitors enjoyed walking around downtown, but were disappointed to find that attractions weren't open.
The Mississippi River was identified as a major moniker to Cape Girardeau, but only a small amount of visitors that went downtown knew they could go beyond the floodwall.
Several couples interviewed said they came downtown to see the river and walk around, but left because they thought they were not allowed on the river (wall and railroad tracks)
The Missouri Department of Tourism describes Cape Girardeau as a significant historical experience. Furthermore, Cape Girardeau is recommended to travel writers and inquiring visitors as the place to stay to experience the entire region.
The overall perception of Cape Girardeau is that it is a very pleasant city, but that there is not much to do.
Lack of attractions
Lack of awareness of attractions
Poor accessibility to existing attractions
The Insights portion of the BrandPrint also provided a number of key findings, one in particular ...
With the exception of the Mississippi River, there is no dominant association or identifier for Cape Girardeau.
Strategic Positioning ...
Cape Girardeau is first and foremost a river town
A river is a story
Cape Girardeau has many stories to tell.
Position Cape Girardeau as a river town with tales to be told ...
John Robinson, Director of the Missouri Division of Tourism, wrote in the Fall 2003 issue of Inn Sights Newsletter, the trade publication for the Missouri Hotel and Lodging Association, "Researchers have built monuments to the reasons why Americans travel. You know the catch all categories: relaxation, history, fun, adventure, shopping. With all due respect to researchers, on a personal level there are 270 million reasons why Americans travel. Yet a single common thread runs through each and every trip. Stories. Since before recorded time, humans have recounted their experiences through stories. As a nation, we unite through our tales. Truth is, no matter the path to your welcome mat, visitors see you as a unique island in an archipelago of undiscovered attractions, stuffed full of great stories ..."
The Red House Interpretive Center now stands as a living history exhibit of Lewis and Clark's visit to Cape Girardeau, of our community founder Louis Lorimier's life, and of life in general in the Old Cape Girardeau district in the early 1800's. Gerald Baker, Superintendent of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail and Corps of Discovery II recently said in the publication Experience Your America, "Cape Girardeau is one of many great Lewis and Clark stories. When we can connect people with the expedition and places like the Cape and people like Louis Lorimier, the story really comes alive."
In her biography of Ulysses S. Grant, author Jean Edward Smith in "Grant" relates the following, "On August 30, 1861, Grant assumed command of the Union army on the Mississippi. He was at Cape Girardeau, 120 miles below St. Louis, on the west bank of the river looking south. Suddenly, uncharacteristically, Grant was awed by his responsibility. 'You should be cheerful and try to encourage me,' he wrote Julia (his wife). 'I have a task before me of no trifling moment and want all the encouragement possible. The safety of the country, to some extent, and my reputation and that of our children, greatly depends upon my acts.'" Grant concluded his thoughts with the sobering statement, "All I fear is that too much may be expected of me." That moment was experienced, that letter was written here in Cape Girardeau.
Cape Girardeau has a wealth of stories, a thousand tales waiting to be told. Tales regarding Jean Baptiste Girardot, Louis Lorimier, Lewis and Clark, Ulysses S. Grant, Louis Houck, Mark Twain, Dennis Scivally's Ten Mile Garden (the story behind the City of Roses' name), Billy Sunday, Old St. Vincent's Church, the Common Pleas Courthouse, the Minton House, the murals, the Civil War in the Cape area, the Missouri State Flag, the first long distance telephone call west of the Mississippi, Old Lorimier Cemetery, the Trail of Tears, and on and on ...
When Lewis and Clark set out to make history, they found a town that already had one. Perhaps the reason Mark Twain's words flowed so smoothly was the view he had of the river. Cape Girardeau has a rich history, a lasting legacy. In addition, to the extensive market research and recommendations highlighted above, Northstar has also provided the Cape Girardeau Convention and Visitors Bureau with a new logo and a new positioning statement. Cape Girardeau is where the river turns a thousand tales.
The logo conveys the image of the sun rising over the river. Cape Girardeau not only has a rich history, but it has a bright future. The sun is rising as a new day sees the development of the River Campus of Southeast Missouri State University with a 1,000 seat theater and state-of-the-art museum, the opening of the new Bill Emerson Memorial bridge, the building of the Conservation Campus at Cape Girardeau County North Park, the restoration of the Old Marquette Hotel and the H & H Building, the construction of the new Federal Courthouse, the launching of river cruises in the spring and fall aboard the Grampa Woo luxury yacht and so much more. With such a rich history, how exciting it is to know that Cape Girardeau's best days still lie in front of her. The sun is rising. The river is inextricably linked with this community. A thousand years ago the Mississippi River flowed along the banks on which we stand to view the river today. And a thousand years from now the river will still be flowing along those same banks. It's the constant in a world of change. Turn after turn, the ship's wheel in the pilot's house allows the pilot to respond to all that lies ahead. Safely, confidently navigating. Cape Girardeau ... where the river turns a thousand tales; where you can feel the river's past, where you can feel the river's current.
In conclusion, Northstar has provided the Cape Girardeau Convention and Visitors Bureau with a number of proprietary Business Building Ideas that we will be rolling out in the coming weeks, months and years.