Telling the Byway Story
The Bold Coast Scenic Byway has been designated as such because it is a special route winding through a special place.
Many communities along the Byway already contain museums, arts and crafts galleries, gift shops, guided tours, restaurants, lodging, historic districts, self-guided walks, interpretive sites, recreational opportunities, and scenic vistas that offer opportunities to enjoy the local ways of life. Many communities host events and festivals that celebrate them. A key role of the Byway is to create a unified, accessible experience from these existing assets, and to identify missing opportunities and assist with their creation. The Byway achieves this by providing interpretive information that weaves together the regional story; by providing a cohesive, accessible network of places and activities; and by providing the basic infrastructure for a safe, efficient, and enjoyable journey.
Packaging hands-on experiences that exemplify the historic relationship between the people and places of the Bold Coast is the key to creating authentic and rejuvenating vacation opportunities. All-weather activities; centrally located amenities and services; comprehensive and easily accessible visitor information; and upgraded dining, lodging, shopping, and cultural/historical opportunities will reduce existing barriers to visitation and encourage longer stays.
Visitors should be provided with an honest, “authentic” experience of the land and its people. These experiences come through opportunities to meet the people who make their living by harvesting the bounty of the land, by hearing their stories, and by exploring first hand the places and events that shaped them. These experiences should be provided in a personal, unhurried manner, allowing the visitor to unwind and to immerse themselves in the quiet and simple way of life, creating the opportunity and desire to bring a piece of it home with them—and thus, a desire to return again for more.
Promoting the Byway Region
Businesses and organizations should work together to attract visitors through a constructively competitive yet collaboratively networked marketing approach. A compelling Bold Coast regional brand and tagline are needed to position the region as unique, with distinct benefits to convince travelers to “come further” and to “stay awhile.” A simple method must be provided for connecting the visitor with the myriad of intrinsic qualities scattered across the entire region. All stakeholders should align to support this effort. By taking a collaborative approach, existing organizations, businesses and services can bring the Bold Coast region story to the forefront, and provide an exemplary experience for all.
The Experiential or Cultural Heritage traveler desires an honest, “authentic” experience of the land and its people—they want to experience the places and activities that authentically represent the stories and people of the past and of the present. These travelers want to personally know the people, they want to hear their stories and explore the places and events that shape them.
In order to provide these types of visitor experiences, marketing and development strategies should first focus on existing experiences and visitor-ready facilities. Secondly, strategies should support the thoughtful creation of new experiences and facilities that most compellingly tell the stories of a people who live and play by the rhythms of the land and the sea, whose way of life is historically connected with the abundant natural bounty of this wild and scenic coastal landscape.
Existing Marketing and Promotion Initiatives
Marketing and promotion of the Scenic Byway should support, complement, build upon, and unify existing marketing and promotion efforts, of which there are many. Please refer to J, Regional Promotional Initiative, for a listing of major marketing and promotion efforts across the Bold Coast region.
Maine Office of Tourism:
MOT’s “The Maine Thing” campaign delivers the brand platform of originality through storytelling. Real Mainers tell their stories to capture the essence of Maine’s offbeat, one-of-a-kind, quirky, and pragmatic character. Examples include:
Downeast Acadia Regional Tourism:
- Special interest experiences
- Interactive learning experiences
- Authentic, unique experiences
- Physical or psychological experiences
- Customized, individual travel that matches one’s personal identity and goals
To the touring and outdoor vacationer, the Down East & Acadia Region is the Northeast U.S. vacation destination that provides a completely fulfilling, relaxing and well-rounded vacation experience. It is well known to have an authentic, pristine, coastal wilderness with a distinct “Down East Maine” character and heritage.
Leveraging Originality: DART has used the theme of originality, authentic, and “the real Maine” from its inception. DART expects to continue with this messaging and will leverage the message using the following elements:
Experience Maritime Maine:
- Rugged coastline
- Most lighthouses
- Acadia National Park
- Roosevelt Campobello International Park
- Lobsters fresh from the sea
- Wild blueberries
- Darkest night skies
- Highest tides
- First sunrise
- “Old Sow”
- Revolutionary history
- Whale watching
Experience Maritime Maine (EMM) is an online travel planning tool dedicated to Maine's maritime and coastal lifestyle activities. EMM is a partnership of museums, historic sites, communities, chambers and other maritime-related organizations throughout Maine.
The EMM website promotes Maine as a destination for maritime-related travel, and packages a collection of the very best of Maine’s maritime and coastal lifestyle activities into a convenient interactive experience for travelers.
The Two-Nation Vacation campaign promotes a visit to Canada and the United States to explore the history and culture shared by these two regions.
Both New Brunswick and Maine have deep cultural roots, and the cities and harbor towns along the Two-Nation itinerary share a rich and storied past. The itinerary showcases the similarities that bond our countries together while gaining a new respect for each region's own unique strengths.
Creating a Distinct Regional Brand
Many parts of coastal and inland Maine, especially nearby Acadia National Park, offer great beauty and exceptional recreational opportunities. The Bold Coast region is unique from these places. Rooted among the scenic and recreational splendor is an intact, visible, and accessible resource-based culture. To inform the creation of a regional brand, the Corridor Advisory Group conducted a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) Analysis. The SWOT process generated the following:
Strengths for the Bold Coast Scenic Byway Region
Weaknesses for the Bold Coast Scenic Byway Region
- Nature-based economy, heritage & culture
- Local Experts/Local stories
- Three Nations (United States, First Nations Tribes, Canada)
- Natural beauty/Bold coastline/Abundant wildlife
- Regional network of self-guided trails and scenic byways
Opportunities for the Bold Coast Scenic Byway Region
- Lack of awareness of the area and it’s diverse assets
- Perception of poverty, decline, and lack of interesting things to do
- Distance to travel from both outside and within the region
- Perception that it isn’t easy to get here from there
- Lack of communication on a regional level
- Lack of modernized accommodations
Threats to the Bold Coast Scenic Byway Region
- Two Nation Vacation and Experience Maritime Maine marketing
- Diversify local economic opportunities by incorporating experiential tourism
- Collaboration of existing local/regional/state promotion, funding, program partnerships
- Comprehensive network of regional/international special-interest trails
- Many small groups competing for same grant funds for compatible programs
- Varying stability and health of traditional nature-based economies
- Growth or change that is not compatible with regional scale/aesthetics/culture
The Bold Coast region thus has tremendous growth potential. It has a unique, vibrant, and authentic experience for the visitor and an extensive support network to assist with promotion. The challenges are in getting the word out, promoting traveler-ready assets while improving others, and supporting a collaborative network of independent actions. These challenges do not out weight the potential!
For a great many Bold Coast visitors, the opportunities that exist in the region will prove to be the experience of a lifetime; different from anything they could experience anywhere else; unforgettable.
The distinct regional brand of the Bold Coast Scenic Byway is established by answering three questions about how it is experienced by visitors. These questions and how they are fulfilled in the Bold Coast Region are as follows:
Brand Promise (What is the essence and benefit of the Bold Coast experience?)
Brand Position (Why is this experience unlike any other?)
- Hands-on, individually tailored cultural experiences
- Once-in-a-lifetime experiences and unforgettable people
- Personal, Family-oriented service
- Activities for all interests, ages, skills, schedules, and budgets
- Easy-going, relaxing atmosphere
- Simple trip planning – plenty of local experts and other resources
- Food and Arts inspired by the cultural heritage and landscape
- Safe, attractive travel routes and inviting roadside accommodations
Brand Personality (How does the experience of People/Place feel?)
- Local experts eager to share stories and knowledge
- Intact, “salty” working waterfronts and coastal villages
- Extensive self-guided tours
- Passamaquoddy Culture/Heritage
- Maritime/fisheries heritage sites
- Tidal rivers & marshes, mossy coastal forests
- Blueberries, fisheries, agriculture
- Many historic villages
- Clean, abundant water
- Iconic Wildlife – Puffins, Whales, Lobsters, Salmon, Eagles, Moose, Bear
- First sun, moon, and stars rise/set
- Darkest night skies
- Easternmost point of USA
- Two-nation vacation
- Bird Migration and abundance
- Personal/Unique/Like Home
- Intact/unspoiled Nature/Culture
Once these experiences are articulated, the core messages for a marketing message follows and a distinct, regional marketing theme begins to emerge:
Core Messages for the Byway Region
- Boldness (of spirit, sense of adventure, resilience)
- Family-friendly adventure
- Discovery, exploration
- Connection, rejuvenation
- Cultural celebration
- Unique coastal landscapes
- Nature-based economies
- Tradition and innovation
- Resilient, resourceful people
And with these core messages, a marketing message can be crafted, as follows:
The Marketing Message
…Along the Byway, from end to end and at every waypoint in between, visitors are provided with an honest, “authentic” experience of the land and its people. Opportunities exist to meet the people who make their living by harvesting the bounty of the land, to hear their stories, and to explore first hand the places and events that shape them. These experiences are provided in a personal, unhurried manner, allowing the visitor to unwind and to immerse themselves into the quiet and simple way of life, allowing them to bring a piece of it home with them—and stimulating a desire to return again for more.
Different visitors or market segments will be attracted to different parts of this overall message. Likewise different businesses can deliver on the experiences that are a promise of the marketing message. The message is therefore separated by a theme and sub-themes within it.
The Marketing theme:
Celebrate the Downeast Maine way of life: Engage in a personal experience, led by local experts, of our proud heritage of harvesting the natural bounty of this wild and scenic coastal environment.
- Unique coastal landscape – geology, climate, flora and fauna, habitats, waterways, weather…
- Nature-based economies – fishing, small farms, aquaculture, commercial agriculture, forest management and forestry products, hunting, tourism, arts and crafts, literature, education, tourism…
- Tradition and innovation – cultural heritage and evolution of nature-based industries: berry/wreath cultivation and processing, fisheries, boatbuilding, wind and tidal power, farming, guides and camps, timber management and forestry products; literature and art, including fiber arts; Native American culture and communities...
- Resilient, resourceful, welcoming people – personalized, authentic service; “family style” tours and accommodations; unique businesses; lively community celebrations and events; down-home, local food; many storytelling opportunities!
Finally, a marketing positioning statement emerges that yields a memorable and engaging tag line for all to use in individual and regional promotion.
The Marketing Positioning Statement:
The Bold Coast Scenic Byway gives travelers personal access to a way of life that is intimately related to and dependent upon a wild and scenic coastal environment. Active fishing villages, working forests, and prolific blueberry barrens reflect this historical relationship as people continue to harvest the seasonal bounty of land and sea, much as their ancestors have done for over a century, and even for several millennia.
Of the following taglines, the Corridor Advisory Group settled on “The Journey IS the Destination.” It is now in use on the website, the map of the region, and other promotional literature.
Potential Taglines and Promotional Messages
"Where the Journey IS the Destination"
"Explore a New Route Home"
"The Bold Coast of Maine"
"Explore Deeper. Stay Longer."
"Come for the Day. Stay for Supper"
" Life on the Edge"
"Where Real Maine Lives"
"Go for the Bold"
"The Road Less Traveled"
"One visit is never enough"
Marketing Strategies for the Bold Coast Region
The first phase of marketing focuses on making the Byway experience accessible, cohesive, authentic, and unforgettable. These initial efforts focus on current visitors and regional stakeholders; their successful implementation sets the stage for attracting new visitors.
Visitors to the Bold Coast region are aware of certain locations, but may not consider the area as a holistic experience (this is an issue even among locals!) The brand and any interpretative plan created from it will lay the foundation for a cohesive experience.
Stakeholder and visitor engagement helps align marketing promises with actual visitor experiences, and also maintain the cultural and natural integrity of the region.
Communication of a consistent brand will serve as an important bridge to engaging the regional community of byway stakeholders.
This marketing plan identifies programs that will attract visitors to the Byway and help create a cohesive experience of the Bold Coast region, and is organized into 4 sections:
- Overarching marketing objectives.
- Primary audience for marketing and promotion efforts.
- Essential infrastructure and services improvements.
- Actionable marketing projects development; networking and collaboration, cultural-heritage and recreations opportunities; direct marketing; and outreach events
The immediate, medium-term, and long term prioritization of these marketing actions and programs is provided in the chapters that follow. The organizations, actions, and funding that will implement all of the strategies in the Corridor Plan, including Marketing actions, are provided in the following chapters:
: M. Organizational Partnerships to Sustain the Byway
: N. Bold Coast Scenic Byway Six-Year Action Plan
: O. Future Funding and Administration – Capital Investment Plan
1. Overarching Marketing Objectives
All marketing efforts for the Scenic Byway will serve its primary audiences—visitors and residents—in ways that:
- Highlight sites and activities that celebrate and support local culture
- Communicate/preserve local values through shared local/regional stories
- Establish the region as a compelling/cohesive/unforgettable visitor destination
- Encourage return visits and further exploration “beyond the Byway”
- Strengthen regional/community identity, pride, participation, and stewardship
- Encourage networking and partnering to strengthen and increase possibilities
2. Primary audiences for marketing and promotion
Current and Potential Byways Travelers
- Cultural/Heritage; Friends/Family; Recreation/Leisure/Healthy Lifestyles
- Multi-modal: (motorcycle, RV, bicycle, ATV, snowmobile)
- Acadia, Mid-Coast, Aroostook, and New Brunswick
Social Networks and Local/Regional Media
- Community members; businesses and organizations; public officials
- Program partners and financial sponsors
- Local Chambers and other business/area promotion organizations
- Local Print Media: newspapers, magazines, guidebooks
- Bloggers/Travel writers/Niche magazines
- Facebook/Twitter/YouTube users
3. Essential Infrastructure and Services Improvements
- Informational/interpretive centers;
- Directional signage for recreational, scenic, cultural, and heritage sites;
- Scenic turnouts, roadside trails, picnic areas, and public toilet facilities;
- Retail shops providing basic necessities for residents and travelers;
- Recreation equipment rental facilities;
- Vistas when touring by vehicle;
- More lodging and dining capacity; and
- Context-sensitive technology.
4. Actionable Marketing Projects
Training and Business Development
- Support local experts in online marketing and online sales training to keep organizations and businesses connected to visitors during the winter, including shopping and education opportunities; use interactive, hands-on strategies
- Organize a Pop-Up weekend for home-based or explorative businesses to display their wares in empty downtown businesses.
- Encourage and support the communities of Cherryfield, Milbridge, Jonesport, and Lubec to participate in the Maine Downtown program.
- Encourage and work with local experts to develop niche operations that tell local stories.
- Actively encourage and support local experts in partnership/packaging training and development.
- Create a simple “media kit” brochure for business owners that highlights the brands, tag-lines, marketing position, logo, etc. to encourage/facilitate a stronger regional unity.
- Create “Regional Destination” brochure for business owners that includes themed itineraries and lists of regional visitor assets.
Networking and Collaboration
- Establish partnerships with and among Chambers of Commerce.
- Hold yearly winter retreats for 3 chambers, Destination Cherryfield, Downeast Acadia Regional Tourism, and the Milbridge Area Merchant’s Association.
- Improve engagement of communities and businesses—discover their interests.
- Assist downtown businesses with finding viable, fun methods to stay open through more of the winter; more winter special events
Cultural Heritage and Recreation Opportunities
- Establish accessible short scenic/interpretive hikes directly off the Byway route.
- Utilize the skills of Maine Guides and Wardens for guided tours.
- Develop/gather podcasts for listening to while people drive, walk, or ride through the region,
- Utilize snowmobile and ATV clubs to provide recreational learning experiences to cultural heritage travelers, boomers, adventurers, and friends/family.
- Help establish more “working museums” and experiential tours where people can see the process, touch the tools and products involved, and try to do it themselves.
- Encourage more farmers to participate in Open Farm Day and Maple Syrup day each year.
- Encourage creation and promotion of books, website, posters and videos that describe how things are made including wreaths, blueberry jam, cranberries, goat cheese, sardines, smoked mussels; provide the experience “a day in the life” of local production.
- Conduct “real Bold Coast people” video/audio interviews. Link to historical societies, libraries, schools, places with public television, and regional promotional websites.
- Involve schools, museums, artists, local experts, historical societies, etc, in creating and connecting with regional identity, discovering favorite places, creating art and literature about home, learning the origin stories of their communities.
- Every community gets a weekend! Collaborate on timing/location of events and celebrations; create complementary events and thematic movement through the region.
- Create a Passport program or Geo-cache trail to specific, themed destinations for visitors and school programs.
- Work with local organizations to create mutually beneficial volun-tourism opportunities.
- Share and promote the regional brand that unites the Bold Coast region: The Journey IS the Destination.
- Work with high visitor traffic locations to conduct visitor surveys
- Provide and maintain regional information racks at high-traffic tourism businesses.
- Encourage the development of guided niche tours: foliage and night-sky viewing, “tour-to-table,” island life, etc.
- Highlight businesses, events, and itineraries at info kiosks w/wifi hotspots and maps.
- Inspire people to go beyond Bar Harbor before they plan their trip-allow more time.
- Improve maps and signage to the most exemplary experiences.
- Driving tour maps/magazines with beautiful photos.
- Update Discover Downeast & Acadia map.
- Get Byway maps into State Visitor Centers/regional Chambers of Commerce.
- Promote existing 4-season assets and create winter celebrations.
- Promote volun-tourism and eco-tourism opportunities.
- Promote local food experiences.
- Utilize local insider stories to create intrigue and personal connection.
- Encourage businesses to partner up to market experiential packages.
- Brand Bold Coast Scenic Byway events; utilize media to extend awareness.
- Create several itineraries: best of the best; 1-day, 3-day, week-long; themed.
Outreach and Events
- Maintain Byway Planning website for regional stakeholders/partners.
- Produce monthly “insider” blog for website.
- Produce a quarterly press release to local papers and newsletter for stakeholders/partners.
- Maintain Facebook page several times a week with photos, news and events.
- Create news by holding quarterly Byway-supported events (small is fine); bring the attention of writers and photographers to the area!
- Get businesses involved in fun activities showcasing community culture/assets/brand.
- Get young people involved; what are their stories/experiences, favorite places/activities?
- Issue a Call for submissions for Bold Coast region photography, drawings, and stories by local adults and youth to populate website.
- Organize events at several sculptures and fisheries sites within Byway communities that focus on telling stories of Byway people, places and culture/history.