If you build it they will come: 5 steps to developing killer content – November 2019

You hear it everywhere.  Content marketing.  It’s a term that’s used a lot these days, particularly in the tourism world, and definitely within our organization. Done right, content marketing can be highly effective, but done wrong, your wheels might be spinning and you don’t know what to do next!

So how do you do make sure you are doing it right? The answer to this question is surprisingly less obvious than you might think. We can all recognize amazing content marketing campaigns, but can sometimes forget to note the elements that make them stand out.

Briefly defined (according to Dictionary.com), content marketing is:

“A type of marketing that involves the creation and sharing of online material (such as videos, blogs, and social media posts) that does not explicitly promote a brand but is intended to stimulate interest in its products or services.”

Read this sentence closely, because the answer to the question above lies in the first few words. Content marketing is the “…creation and sharing of online material…” (emphasis added).

Do you see which comes first? This chicken or the egg question is an element that is easy to miss in the rush to dive into the content marketing world. The first step in amazing content marketing is physically creating compelling content.

This means developing the written words that tug at something in your soul, the photos that make you long for the experience, or the video that takes your breath away.

At OHTO, partnership opportunities exist to help tourism stakeholders to develop killer content, specifically because we understand that the quote “if you build it, they will come” is 100 per cent true. First you need killer content that tells your compelling story. Once that part is in place, everything else naturally follows.

At this year’s OH! Tourism Summit in Pembroke, developing strong partnerships was the focus of the event, but the content marketing theme was nevertheless interwoven through every presentation. There was a lot of discussion about how to partner to extend your reach and elevate awareness of your brand, but beneath it all were the casual mentions of the challenges in creating that content in the first place.

If you’ve been looking for a way to strengthen your content, read on for more information about the challenges of creating content, and how to circumvent them.

  1. Identify your strongest assets and their message

If you just thought “well, duh” when you read the heading above, don’t be surprised if this is harder than you might think. Identifying your assets is about more than just writing down the name of a park or museum, it’s taking the time to sit and find a way to spin those assets in a way that delivers your curated message to the reader. One excellent example of this is the video created by OHTO in partnership with Hastings County that went beyond identifying Eagle’s Nest Lookout as an asset, it identified the message to relay to the visitor, loosely translated as simply: “Find serenity in Hastings County.”

  1. Plan ahead – waaaay ahead

Don’t expect to begin developing content to use in two months from now. Understand that there is often a long lead time between when you create your content and when it actually reaches the consumer, sometimes a year or more will pass while you sit squirming on amazing content you can’t wait to get out into the world, but you are waiting for the right opportunity. Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint!

  1. Find good talent and communicate your goals clearly

Finding good talent means taking the time to source photographers, videographers and writers who understand what you are trying to create and have the experience and skills necessary to bring it to fruition. Ensuring that your goals for the project are well communicated will go far in avoiding disappointment later on in the game. Oh, and talent doesn’t refer only to your contractors – believe it or not, models are also considered talent, and they are just as crucial to creating inspiring content as those taking the photos or video.

  1. Coordinate the heck out of it (also known as pray for good weather)

Creating content is a logistical nightmare that can have you waking up in the middle of the night in a sweat, worried you will forget something. You need to coordinate schedules for the models, your contractors, and yourself, along with any businesses or operators who may be included in the content creation. And don’t forget about the weather! Mother Nature can be less than accommodating when you need sun for your shoot, so be prepared for inclement weather conditions.

  1. Don’t underestimate your audience

If you see your photos or video or written content and aren’t blown away by how awesome they are, don’t be surprised if it doesn’t do well in the marketing world. Be brutal in rejecting anything less than your vision. After all, if you aren’t moved by your content, how will your audience be? So if you aren’t sneaking back to your computer to replay your video or flip through your photos, think about why not and how you can improve your content development for next time.

Happy wandering,


Julie Mulligan

OHTO’s Marketing Manager


We are Stronger Together: October 2019

We are stronger together. This is a statement that has withstood the test of time and history, and continues to be relevant today. That we aren’t also strong individually isn’t at question, it’s that when we work together, there is nowhere to go but up.

Stronger, better, smarter. This is true not only in tourism but also in virtually every other industry in the world. Two minds are better than one. Four minds are better than two.

The potential for collaboration is tremendous – in 2019 and 2020 the world is celebrating 75 years since the end of World War II, a feat that came about thanks to the collaboration and partnership of allied forces.

And think of the other instances in which partnership brought about greatness: If the Wright brothers hadn’t partnered to invent the airplane would we be able to fly around the world today? John Lennon and Paul McCartney both made beautiful music as solo artists, but together they created something eternal – the Beatles. And would Ben and Jerry’s ice cream taste as sweet if it was just called “Ben’s Ice Cream?” or “Jerry’s Ice Cream?”

Collaboration is the key to unlocking so much success, a chance to throw ideas into the mix, make connections, and further common goals. For tourism operators and stakeholders in Ontario’s Highlands, our primary goal is to bring visitors to our community, and to present a cohesive message about what a visitor can expect during their visit.

It’s the tremendous potential of partnership and collaboration that led us to settle on this year’s Oh! Tourism Summit theme – Stronger Together: Growing Tourism Through Collaboration.  At the summit on Wednesday, October 23 at the Germania Club in Pembroke, we will be delving into how we can work collaboratively to leverage ourselves and our destinations more effectively.

This theme is present in every aspect of this year’s conference program, from a presentation by Lisa LaVecchia, President and CEO of Destination Ontario, who will be discussing how to Leverage Your Reach to Tourism Matters by Beth Potter, President and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario. Throughout this year’s conference we will be learning how we can be better together, and hearing straight from the experts about the power of collaboration, with success stories of how partnerships have made big differences in driving visitation in communities across Ontario’s Highlands.

Here in Ontario’s Highlands we are killing it when it comes to increasing visitation to our regions, and working hard at becoming better and better at what we do. But how do we pull together that partnership piece? How do we prove that two minds are better than one?

Find out on October 23. Come put your head together with tourism leaders from the Ottawa Valley to Hastings County, Lennox & Addington, Frontenac County, Haliburton Highlands, and Lanark County, and see for yourself what can happen when you partner up.

With our sights set on becoming Ontario’s next most talked about destination, we invite you to join us for a day of exploration, innovation, networking, and collaboration. Please have a look at our conference website, www.ohtourismsummit.ca, for full program details and to register today.

Let’s grow tourism together by inspiring more visitors to Come Wander in Ontario’s Highlands.

Happy Wandering,


Julie Mulligan

OHTO’s Marketing Manager

One Simple Question: March 2017

Come Wander is an adaptable platform where our tourism partners and operators can share their brand message and reach new audiences through storytelling.  As business owners, community organizers, and Ontario’s Highlands’ locals, no one knows the stories of the region better than you. We want you to tell us what makes you unique; what visitors love about you – and then we want to share it!

We know you’re busy, so we’re asking that you answer just one simple question:

What are you most excited about for your business and/or community in 2017?

Moving forward, OHTO will be sending out guiding questions like this every month to spark creativity, uncover insider insight, and challenge you to go beyond what you would typically submit for inclusion in a tourism directory.  The team at OHTO will take your responses, drill down to find the content nugget, and work with respondents to develop a compelling story to be featured on the new ComeWander.ca website, social channels and through other content initiatives, such as influencer programs, media trips, and targeted emails. This is the exciting first step for our tourism partners, businesses, and communities to become a part of the Come Wander story and inspire wandering.

Please submit your responses by Monday, March 20, 2017.

Have a question about this opportunity? Please contact Jennifer for more information.

Getting Social: January 2017

It’s no secret the social media world is constantly evolving. New platforms are popping up, existing platforms are changing their algorithms and releasing new features, and what was trending yesterday seems to be forgotten today.

By now, you’ve probably noticed that the majority of our Come Wander efforts will be focused on the digital world, which includes social media. Though it moves quickly and can seem overwhelming to stay on top of, social media also allows us a direct way to connect with our audience and inspire visitation.

As we move towards our official consumer launch of Come Wander, we’ll be leveraging social media to connect with our followers and create a community that celebrates the ideology of wandering. To do this, we’re going to continue focusing our social efforts on four of our existing platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

We’ve already started the online conversation and are pleased to share that we’ve had many people join in. We hope you’ve been using #ComeWander and want to encourage you to continue to do so moving forward, but also to go even further. Instead of just using this hashtag, try searching #ComeWander on Instagram and Twitter. Take a look at what visitors are talking about and doing in the region. Once you know what visitors are saying, we hope you’ll be excited for your own social posts and can better participate in the conversation. With over 1200 posts shared in the past two months, there’s bound to be a post or two that inspire you.

Feeling overwhelmed? We want to help. On Blast Blog recently created a Social Media Cheat Sheet for 2017 and we wanted to share this with you. This is a guiding infographic that provides some great advice for the best day and time to post, sharing tips & tricks, photo-sizing, and tools to explore. It also provides a sneak peek into new features and trends to watch for in the exciting year to come.

Though chalk full of tips and tricks, it is still just a guide. It’s important to review your page metrics and engagement, and to pay attention and get to know your audience to best optimize your content and your posting schedule to them.

We look forward to getting social with you in 2017.

Julie Mulligan

Marketing Manager, OHTO

Meet the Wanderers: December 2016

With our content marketing approach, it’s more important than ever that we truly understand our visitors to create content that inspires them.

Our visitor-centric approach isn’t new. We’ve been stressing the importance of going beyond basic demographics to understand our valued guest, to focus on their attitudes, values, and motivation for travel, for years. What is new is that we’ve taken this one step further as we develop our Come Wander brand.

To do this, we expanded on our definition of our ideal visitor, the Connected Explorer. We developed the Wanderers: the Creative Cruiser, the Serenity Seeker, the Freedom Finder, the Rustic Roamer, and the Memory Maker.

The five Wanderers allow us to better identify the travel intentions of the Connected Explorers who connect with our region and support the core themes of the Come Wander brand. They provide profiles that dig deeper, that identify the preferences of our market, and that allow us to tailor our messaging to connect them with the experiences that suit their travelling desires.

We invite you to get to know the Wanderers, to identify which Wanderer resonates best with your business or organization, and tell us how you could connect with the Wanderer in the Comments section below! To learn more about the Wanderers, please click here. For each Wanderer, we’ve included a sample profile to put a fictional face to the name and best depict the lifestyle and activities suited to this persona.

Developing Content and the Benefits of Doing So: September 2016

OHTO set out to Haliburton County over the last week of August with one lofty goal: to capture images that support the concept of wandering and highlight the emotions, feelings, and unique moments found by stepping off the beaten path and embracing the unexpected.

This was the first photoshoot planned to support the brand development and capture video and images that portray not only the overall Come Wander brand, but also visually represent the five wandering types. The shoot was organized to explore back roads and small shops as the Rustic Roamer, undertake hands on workshops as the Creative Cruiser, embrace traditions as the Memory Maker, get the adrenaline pumping as the Freedom Finder, and wonder at the beauty of nature as the Serenity Seeker.


Images and video captured from this photoshoot as well as future shoots throughout the region will be used to visually represent the Come Wander brand and support our new innovative content marketing strategy. As we continue to develop content and build our repertoire of Come Wander stories and images, we wanted to share some insight into the benefits of a content marketing strategy.


With online content acting as a major influencer in consumer purchasing, a content-focused approach to marketing allows us to better engage our audience. As the graphic above displays, this generates more leads at a lower cost than traditional marketing. This approach allows us to cut through advertising clutter to share our story, inspire visitation, and thrive in today’s tourism market.welcome-to-wanderland

We’re bringing cutting-edge leaders and industry experts to be delve deeper into the benefits of content marketing and provide you with the tools to share your stories at this year’s OH!Tourism Summit on October 24-25 in Perth. We hope you’ll join us to discover how to navigate the path to develop content, share your stories, and engage visitors as we continue on our collective journey to invite people to Come Wander Ontario’s Highlands.

For full conference details, please visit www.ohtourismsummit.ca.


The Wanderer Takes the First Step to Activate Come Wander: July 2016

OHTO is excited to announce the launch of The Wanderer program, a first step to activating Come Wander to the consumer.  With the movement towards Content Marketing, the focus of The Wanderer will swing towards creating engaging content in line with the creative of the brand.

The Wanderer program features 3 unique aspects as part of its activation:

  1. Evolution of the Brand Ambassador to be The Wanderer, a person who will experience and share the unique stories of Ontario’s Highlands and communicate the essence of the brand.
  2. Development of The Wanderer Blog to be an avenue for sharing unique content targeted to what it means to wander in Ontario’s Highlands.
  3. The production of the Unrehearsed Day web video series. This series will be a 5-part story highlighting what it means to truly wander, to throw away the itinerary, step off the beaten path, and embrace every unexpected moment.

OHTO’s Carly Freeman will be igniting the role of The Wanderer and as part of her journey, will be exploring what it means to truly wander; to trust to find exactly what you need, when you need it. She’ll bring her knowledge of the region, along with her expertise of stepping off the beaten path with her, and as a first step, will quite literally rely on the flip of a coin to determine her destinations. She may wander into your town, or even your business –it all depends on the answer to one question: heads or tails?

Carly will be enlisting the help of local storytellers as she chases a desire to experience an unrehearsed day. She’s setting out on these adventures with one goal in mind: to help visitors, and locals alike, discover something more about themselves; their inner wanderers.

Carly will be sharing her story through a 5 part video series titled ‘Unrehearsed Day’, which will be posted on The Wanderer blog at www.comewander.ca beginning the week of July 25. In each episode, she’ll meet with a local storyteller who will travel with her for the day. They’ll gather suggestions on hidden gems and unique experiences for them to explore, and will flip a coin to determine how their unrehearsed day will unfold. Videos will be published to the blog every two weeks. In addition to the videos, supporting blog posts will be shared, detailing her unexpected moments of self-discovery, delving into what it means to truly wander, and highlighting some of the hidden gems found across Ontario’s Highlands.

We hope you’ll enjoy following along on The Wanderer’s journey and are sure you’ll recognize some of the colourful characters we’ve enlisted to accompany her in sharing some of the stories of our region. If you have suggestions for businesses, attractions, operators, experiences, or events to be featured on The Wanderer’s blog, we’d love to hear them! Send Carly a note and let her know why visitors should wander over to your community!

Come Wander Brand Toolkit and Logo Guidelines Released

After in depth and careful consideration of all information and constructive feedback received from sessions with DMOs, tourism partners and businesses, and OHTO staff, we are excited to make available the Come Wander Brand Toolkit to our industry partners. With this release, we begin our journey to develop the Come Wander brand and position Ontario’s Highlands as the place to wander.  It has been extremely encouraging to see and experience how various businesses, partners, and regions are already adopting the concept of Come Wander and aligning their message with this platform.  The excitement felt and the ideas flowing from the Stakeholder Sessions across the region give us great hope in terms of the potential of the Come Wander brand.

Come Wander

With OHTO focusing our efforts on the development of Come Wander this coming year, this Toolkit should be considered a fluid document as we develop the assets need to support the visual style of the brand.  OHTO will be on the ground this year working with operators to gather stories and collect visual assets across Ontario’s Highlands, to ensure we accurately reflect our region.

Along with the release of the Brand Toolkit, a Come Wander Logo Guidelines document is also being made available to all Ontario’s Highlands tourism partners.  The Logo Guidelines document outlines the creative rules of use for both the Ontario’s Highlands and Come Wander logos for all those partners wishing to align with the Come Wander brand.  For anyone wishing to use either the Come Wander or Ontario’s Highlands logo, please review the Logo Guidelines document and contact Julie Mulligan with details of your project to acquire the logo files.

Both the Brand Toolkit and Logo Guidelines document can be found on OHTO.ca on the Resources page.

We look forward to traveling this journey with you.  Please stay tuned as more developments and progress of Come Wander are coming soon.

Julie Mulligan
Marketing Manager
Ontario’s Highlands Tourism Organization