Una cartina geografica con dei territori segnalati da degli indicatori

Promoting the territory with territorial marketing

The promotion of the territory is the result of various marketing and communication activities that take the name of territorial marketing. In this article we will see what it is exactly and how to implement it.

Local authorities have always been active in promoting their services and activities, just like in many other sectors. The improvements in mobility and the consequently increased number of visitors, as well as the ease with which it is possible to find information on places to visit, have however increased competition.

As a result, over the years there has been the development and dissemination of a new type of marketing that aims to communicate the uniqueness of a specific place: territorial marketing.

Even if in some ways a territorial marketing strategy is similar in means and approach to the traditional advertising strategies of brands, it is also characterised by specific uniqueness. In this article we will see what territorial marketing specifically is, how to develop a territorial marketing strategy and two successful case studies.

What is territorial marketing?

The famous marketer Philip Kotler has defined territorial marketing as the set of activities, projects, programmes and promotional strategies aimed at putting the players of the local tourism market in contact with potential customers with the specific purpose of guaranteeing the economic and social development of a territorial district in the long term.

Briefly, territorial marketing is the set of various activities designed to promote a specific location.

Digitisation, globalisation, greater ease of travel and the affordability of means of transport have generated an unprecedented tourist flow (despite the recent limitations due to the COVID-19 pandemic), but has consequently increased the competition that businesses and organizations dedicated to tourism and promotion of the territory are faced. This has generated the need to focus on the peculiarities of a place to differentiate and effectively promote all that a territory has to offer in terms of experiences, culture, art, entertainment and more.

The territorial marketing activities are aimed at showing the potential of certain places and communicating their specificity, in order to increase their competitiveness on the global market and their attractiveness to a specific target audience, thus relaunching the social and economic sector of these places.

The set of actions that make up a territorial marketing strategy obviously varies according to the territory taken into consideration, the target audience, the resources allocated and the specific goals to be achieved. Each territory has, in fact, its own history and its own culture that could be exploited to attract tourists. This does not only concern seaside areas, but also places with a particular cultural, gastronomic or naturalistic offer, which play an important role in differentiating and positioning themselves, just as if you were building the brand identity of a company.

Not just tourism

Contrary to what one might think, territorial marketing is not exclusively aimed at tourists, although many of its activities and most of the most famous strategies that have been put in place recently are.

Some territorial marketing strategies are aimed at attracting capital and investments to redevelop a specific area and create new industrial hubs. Or to repopulate a sparsely inhabited area with few social prospects.

One example is the Leith district of Edinburgh, which wanted to attract new inhabitants by promoting the area as a community of young creatives and cultural hub. This allowed the neighbourhood to repopulate and led to the creation of new business opportunities that made Leith one of the most popular areas among Edinburgh citizens and tourists as well.

How to develop a territorial marketing strategy

Let’s now understand specifically how to create a successful territorial marketing strategy.

The territorial marketing strategy can be divided into 4 steps:

  1. Analysis of the social and economic system of the area we want to promote, in order to identify its characteristics, strengths but also any critical issues;
  2. Identification of the target audience;
  3. Definition of the goals to be achieved;
  4. Choice of promotional channels, tone of voice and messages to be communicated.

As for the points listed above, one is the result of the other. Moreover, they also influence each other. The identification of the characteristics of a place leads to determining the relevant public. Once the objectives of the territorial marketing strategy have been established, then it will be necessary to choose the choose the channels based on the audience to be reached. If, however, the resources allocated are not sufficient, then it would be necessary to partially reshape the strategies taking them into account. Finally, it will be necessary to set the tone of voice that best suits the chosen means of communication and your audience.

For example, a seaside resort that has an alternative cultural offer to its competitors may want to attract a tourist flow of young families looking for a place that can combine days at the beach with visits to exhibitions or museums. This allows you to focus on a different audience than that of the seaside areas which instead attract young people who are also looking for evening entertainment with bars and clubs.

But how to communicate this territorial uniqueness?

The storytelling marketing

Once the 4 fundamental points for each territorial marketing strategy have been established, it is time to give shape to the message to be transmitted. This is where storytelling comes to our aid. Storytelling marketing uses narration to communicate a promotional message. The goal is to make the audience feel emotions, in order to arouse interest in the territory and in the experiences it can offer.

The public is subjected to multiple stimuli. In fact, it is estimated that an adult person is exposed on average to about 7,000 ads per day. From commercials on TV to banners on websites, passing through the billboards on the way to work and the ads that appear while watching stories on Instagram: advertising is always present in our daily life.

As a result, it is necessary to create an effective message, able to reach the audience immediately. Storytelling, due to its emotional and evocative nature, can be one of the best ways for this purpose. This strategy helps to perceive the meaning of the message conveyed and establish an emotional connection: applying storytelling to territorial marketing allows you to narrate the emotions aroused by a specific region, its characteristics and its values.

This will create an interest in that territory that will also be reflected on local activities, which will however have to be ready with their specific communications to intercept the needs of tourists who will go to that place.

For more information on how to communicate a brand with storytelling marketing, you can consult our dedicated blog post.

The need to be transparent

One of the fundamental aspects for the success of a territorial marketing strategy is transparency. When describing a territory, one might think it’s better to omit certain issues and enhance only the positive sides.

This would be a serious mistake: an untruthful communication could collide with a negative customer experience, amplifying the disappointment. Disappointment that could also be shared on review platforms such as Booking or TripAdvisor, but also on social media, generating a bad return on the image you want to give to a territory.

This does not mean that stereotypes or gossip relating to a specific place should not be denied, but that it is necessary to work in synergy with the other players in the area and local administrations to redevelop a territory and solve the problems that afflict it, improving as much as possible the visitor experience.

Successful examples of territorial marketing strategies


The ONLYLYON territorial marketing campaign is an excellent example of a promotional strategy resulting from the collaboration of several entities with the aim of improving the reputation of the city of Lyon, located in south-eastern France.

Lyon has a vast historical, architectural and cultural heritage, but the perception of international tourists towards the city was not particularly positive. Consequently, 12 institutions and local bodies involved some local businesses to develop and create a territorial marketing strategy.

The goal of the ONLYLYON campaign was to improve the image and competitiveness of the city to attract tourists but also international investors. To do this, the city was transformed into a creative hub that enhanced the values and differences present within the local community.

The slogan “ONLYLYON” was therefore created to signal the uniqueness of the city of Lyon and evoke the image of a lion, an animal associated with strength and majesty and symbol of the city itself. This slogan was then reported on red and white installations, also depicting the running animal, positioned in different strategic points.

The installation "ONLYLYON" for the territorial marketing campaign of the city of Lyon

With the aim of increasing the media exposure of the campaign, numerous cultural events have also been organised in the proximity of these installations. In addition, the campaign went beyond the French national borders, with images spread in the main European airports which made it possible to intercept a wider audience.

The campaign was also able to wisely combine online promotional activities, mainly on social media, through a network of brand ambassadors who have spread the message and values of the campaign. Since every resident of the city could intervene, becoming a protagonist of the campaign, it was boosted by the sharing of countless photos, videos and stories of unique experiences that took place in Lyon.

The network has since expanded and now includes a large local community, but also students and anyone who visit the city for business or tourism reasons and want share its beauty. However, the ONLYLYON campaign did not end once its goal was reached, but was updated over time to continue promoting the local territory through the voice of those who live there.

Lyon is currently the second city in France by number of tourists, with around 6 million annual visitors.

Inspired by Iceland

“Inspired by Iceland” is the name of a territorial marketing campaign carried out by the Government of Iceland, the municipality of Reykjavík, the airline Iceland Express and 80 other local authorities and companies. Due to the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano and the consequent news – often inaccurate – that were reported by international media, bookings by tourists have suffered a decline of 22%. Consequently, the parties involved have decided to exploit the attention given to the island to convey positive messages, present its potential and reassure tourists.

The first promotional activity was the “Iceland Hour” initiative, an hour during which the whole nation was invited to share their experience, culture and history with family and friends around the world. Also, a video aimed at promoting the island as a perfect tourist destination was shared.

The video features the song “Jungle Drum” by Icelandic singer-songwriter Emiliana Torrini and shows people joyfully dancing in various rural and urban locations, proving that Iceland still has a lot to offer.

The next phase involved the intervention of celebrities such as Eric Clapton, Yoko Ono and Viggo Mortensen and the creation of a website which contained the stories and experiences of all the inhabitants who wanted to take part in the territorial marketing campaign. Finally, the promoters organised numerous cultural events and music festivals, to show that Iceland was ready to welcome anyone who wanted to visit it.

The campaign met expectations with a 12% increase in tourist admissions.

Summing up

The socio-political and economic changes that cities and countries are undergoing have generated the need to rethink and re-narrate places of tourist interest. The territories are in fact changing and should reposition themselves accordingly.

A successful territorial marketing strategy can attract capital, generate tourist flows and economic income, revitalise the territory by retaining human resources and companies in places that otherwise would have little to offer. For their full success, these strategies should be developed in synergy with all stakeholders, such as local institutions, private businesses and associations.

Has the place where you live ever implemented a territorial marketing strategy? How do you think one should communicate the characteristics of that territory? Let us know in the comments!

EOS Mktg&Communication can help you develop a strategy and better manage your communication activities, whether it is related to a territory, a brand, a single product or a person. Visit the page dedicated to our services or contact us at info@eosmarketing.it to receive more information.

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Marketing enthusiast, bachelor’s in linguistic sciences for media and communication at Catholic University in Milan and then MSc Media Management at University of Stirling. Thanks to my academic background, I am now working my dream job: I manage communication and marketing strategies for EOS and the ipcm® magazines. In my free time I play basketball and watch lots of films. Favourite team: Milwaukee Bucks. Favourite director: David Lynch.

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