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Digital Destination – Introduction

Posted: June 27th, 2010   |   Category: Blog | Case Studies | Strategy

Prologue & Origins of ‘Digital Destination’

Over the last year, I’ve been working on a rough outline for a research project that I call ‘Digital Destination’.

When I moved from Toronto to London, Ontario, I didn’t really think about this much, as Toronto had a very large and self-sustaining digital community that grew nearly instantly as the Age of the Internet came upon us.

Of course, there were gaps (which arguably still exist in many places), but I would describe Toronto as a mature and expanding ‘Digital Destination’.  Admittedly, this is a debatable position, and as we develop this concept through this series of articles, we’ll find out if I’m actually correct in that assertion.

London’s been a different marketplace and experience for me and it’s an exciting place to live in.  There are a number of production groups and companies committed to creating the best-in-class for an array of projects, the two main educational institutions (Western and Fanshawe) are pushing ahead with various specialties and many of the local ‘digerati’ are engaged with everything from leveraging social media, podcamps, open data/access, developing new tools and advancing unique creative concepts for the digital world.

There’s obviously considerable risk in comparing London to Toronto or any other jurisdiction, so I’ll actually do my best to avoid including London unless I’m invited to do so.  This may bother some people on the local scene, but the reality is that I want to be as objective as possible with this project.  It will be much easier to do so when it’s not my home town.

I hope that makes sense.

What I will say is that London and its inhabitants are conceivably in a different place compared to other jurisdictions.  Please note that ‘different’ isn’t meant to be good or bad.

It’s these differences that inspired the thinking behind ‘Digital Destination’ and what it can mean to any jurisdiction, both as a road map and also a marketing opportunity.

So what is a ‘Digital Destination’?

As mentioned, ‘Digital Destination’ can easily be any / all of the following:

  • A research project
  • A marketing strategy
  • A basic road map for a digital life in the 21st century

Digital Destination as a Research Project

For many reasons that I won’t get into here, I’m not really well suited for the academic community.  However, I have always been attracted to the idea of research projects.  A good research project is like detective work.  You seek out clues, talk with people, interpret situations and find ways to offer up ‘solutions’ to what it is that you’re investigating.

The concept of ‘Digital Destination’ shouldn’t be any different.

I’m setting out on this project without funding and without bias towards any specific jurisdiction, but I’m hoping to collect dozens (if not hundreds) of examples of what various jurisdictions are doing in the marketplace to attract capital, people educators and businesses to their areas.

My goal is to offer up research as part of an ongoing discussion related to the 12 components of a ‘Digital Destination’ (see below) and solicit feedback from readers as well to enhance the experience.  In fact, at any time you have suggestions, please post them as comments or add them to the ‘Digital Destination’ wiki (pending).

Finally, with research, I am open to funding recommendations and opportunities, but want to make sure that I’m not regurgitating someone’s marketing materials.  With that in mind, it would be ideal if the funding comes from unbiased sources.  While this is an unrealistic goal, I’m open to ideas about how I can achieve that.  Perhaps a book contract?

Digital Destination as a Marketing Strategy

I believe that ‘Digital Destination’ makes for fantastic marketing.

For example, if you’re in Nova Scotia and you’re trying to develop a strategy to get companies to invest in your area, what better way than to leverage all of the discussion about the components (again, see below) and clearly illustrate how your community is leading the pack when it comes to thinking about ways to make the ‘digital life’ a good life.

In the interest of transparency, I am a consultant for hire.  I have booked the URL ‘digitaldestination.ca’ and I fully intend to make the site part of a marketing strategy for a jurisdiction or organization that would like to leverage this concept to the full extent.  Ideally, the Government of Canada will provide funding to help me develop the marketing side of this concept, but I’m available for any jurisdiction that is keen to attract the ‘digeratis’ of the world.

Admittedly, this conflicts with the idea of developing an objective research project, but I have to be realistic and acknowledge that it’s worth ‘diversifying’ this concept.

When the two paths collide (or if they do), I’ll be very clear about the change in status and will acknowledge any funding that I receive from specific locations.

Digital Destination:  A Basic Road Map for Digital Life in the 21st Century

I’ve mentioned the ‘components’ of a digital destination.  Again, I admit that this is a subjective idea, so I’ll need to expand / contract the list depending on feedback that I get from the public.

That said, here they are, all represent as ‘spokes’ of the digital destination ‘hub':

Digital Destination Logo and Components

Hopefully, it’s easier now to see that a Digital Destination represents a hub.  It’s a location or jurisdiction that possesses all or most of the characteristics related to all things digital.  Of course, it can also be a location that has all of these traits, but is still making efforts to improve on them.

A digital destination is attractive to potential employees, businesses, investors, educators and other organizations because it captures the spirit of innovation, research, work opportunities, technology enhancements and policy priorities.

Why ‘Digital Destination’ as Part of My <Jurisdiction’s> Vision?

Throughout the 20th century, manufacturing, processing and other industries that leveraged physical contributions to mass production were the central focus for planners, builders and visionaries that hoped to create a productive and profitable economy.

We all know that as we enter the 21st century, the dynamics have changed severely.

General Motors – the company that most people said would never die – faced unprecedented financial hardship during the last few years.  Chrysler wasn’t far behind. Other manufacturers have outsourced most of their core processing capabilities to other countries that have invested in automation or that have cheaper labour costs.

Unfortunately, reliance on manufacturing of any kind has ensured that many areas face perilous problems, both with unemployment numbers and seasonal or structural inconsistencies.

Canada has become a service economy, where a substantial percentage of our economy relies on ‘knowledge-based’ workers. The economy relies completely on all things digital.

The Internet is now the medium of choice for nearly all consumers of media, entertainment, research, basic information and personal activities. But the ‘Internet’ is not just about one activity or one specific role for users or programmers. It represents the amalgamation of thousands of ideas and platforms that enable people to have conversations and engage with new audiences.

More importantly, ‘digital’ isn’t just about the Internet. It’s about finding ways to improve our efficiency and productivity in the mundane things that we do on a day-to-day basis. Can GM be made to be a better company if we helped it develop better technology related to research and production? That’s the hope.

Also, ‘all things digital’ have an impact on everything that surrounds us and a digital destination confirms the commitment of our local politicians, educators, businesspeople and other leaders to take advantage of all of the opportunities that this new industry represents.

Given the array of competition out there – cities, companies and people – vying for visibility in the digital marketplace, we think a sound marketing and communications plan and grasp of the components of a healthy digital destination is needed to differentiate you and your jurisdiction from the ‘noise’.

Ultimately, we have a choice. We can either use valuable and limited resources to support industries with a questionable future or we can allow new industries to elevate us to new levels.

What’s Next With This Blog?

I still intend to post updates about the digital marketing industry, but I hope to turn my focus towards the development of the concept of ‘Digital Destination’.  More importantly, I intend to define and expand on the components over the coming weeks and months, including examples of what various jurisdictions are doing (and what some are not doing) to develop each component.

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However, it’s extremely important that you help us (please):  provide suggestions, examples, recommendations, critiques and offer up connections that will help me expand on this concept.

Thanks!

Bill Wittur
Bottree Digital Services
bill AT bottree DOT com

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