General Tips and Tools

Your story begins and ends with your visitors’ stories

I think it was the spring of 1993, maybe 1994. I was attending a conference on research methods for communicators in Ottawa, and one of the presenters confused the hell out of most of us with his introduction of this thing called the World Wide Web. I was still getting my head around how I could possibly use up all of the 45 MB of memory on my new laptop and figuring out how to send an email. And what was with this new CD called a DVD? And a cell phone that wasn’t the size of a brick. Craziness. 

A few things have changed since then. 

One thing in the world of communications planning that hasn’t changed, however, is that the audience’s needs and interests trump (sorry, that’s probably a poor word choice right now) everything. In my previous blog post, I wrote about the importance of understanding your strategic marketing and communication goals as it relates to developing your tour (or just about any communications initiative, for that matter). Very important, for sure, and a critical starting point. 

But none of that matters if you don’t take into account your audience or market. So, your story begins and ends with their story. Knowing who they are, what is important or interesting to them, how to present your story in a way that will captivate and resonate with them…it’s all essential.  

The marketing and communications world is littered with examples of campaigns gone bad because the creators didn’t think enough about the impact on the intended audience as well as other possible viewers. (In case you missed it, Google “Kendall Jenner and Pepsi” and then sit back and cringe while you watch the sparks in response to this poorly thought-out campaign…) 

So, as you begin designing your tour, we encourage you to take into consideration demographics, psychographics and current behavioural  practices. To help develop a better profile or understanding of your audience(s), you can use a checklist like the one below to create that understanding and ask the question, “As it relates to our intended audience/target market for this tour, what do we know about their…”: 


  • Age 
  • Gender 
  • Ethnicity 
  • Preferred language(s) 
  • Geographic location  
  • Socio-economic status 
  • Education 


  • Values (cultural, locational, individual) 
  • Interests 
  • Personality traits 
  • Attitudes 
  • Lifestyle  


  • Current (as it relates to technology and tours, for example) 
  • Perceived benefits 
  • Potential barriers to participation 
  • Sources of information related to our type of organization 

By going through this list, you will be able to identify several things: 

First, you will find out how much you know and don’t know about your audience and gaps you might need to fill in with additional research. 

Second, as your profile(s) becomes more complete, you will be able to create a tour that will really resonate with them, including appropriate messaging, imagery, tone, etc. 

Third, it is a lot easier to develop an inspired an inspiring tour for that “ideal visitor” that you can visualize than for the “general public”. (I once attended a marketing workshop led by a well-known Canadian marketing professional, and he said at the beginning of the session, “If anyone in this room tells me they’re creating a campaign for the general public, I’ll kick them out.” So, don’t do that.)