Ithaca is located in central New York. We’re called the Finger Lakes region and we’re best known for our wineries. We give Sonoma a run for their money most years.
But our winters are… well… ridiculous.
So last winter our visitor’s bureau decided to change their website’s home page and tell people to go to Key West instead. They had no idea what was in store for them!
Here is a screenshot of the home page. Read it through. I find it very funny.
If You Click on the Image It Will Open a New Window and Show You a Larger Version.
Well, major news outlets picked it up and Ithaca got TONS and TONS and TONS of free press. Here is an article about it in USA Today, CNN, Today, MSNBC, Snopes, and the list goes on and on and on.
Expedia, Priceline, Greyhound, and other travel websites started running deals from Ithaca to Key West. Our mayor was interviewed on morning talk shows.
I’m telling you it showed up everywhere.
So what in the sam hell does this have to do with you? (Please excuse some of my hillbilly language.)
Look, I constantly preach that the best way to be successful in business is to be true to you. Stand out and be different. Be you. Whatever that means. (here’s a secret – this is part of your branding!!)
This small and funny joke turned into a huge media blitz for Ithaca (a town of 30,000 that swells to 60,000 when Cornell and Ithaca College are in session).
Want free publicity? Be different.
Want to get on the radar of media? Be different.
Want to reach more people that have never heard of you? Be different.
Want to generate more visitors/sales? Be different.
The Ithaca Visitor’s center called Key West and asked permission to use them on the website. They said yes, not thinking much of it. Because of the media frenzy you’ll be glad to know that both Key West and Ithaca greatly benefited.
That is the definition of a true strategic partnership. A win-win.
In fact, smart entrepreneurs in Ithaca even made out. For example, our town has a slogan. Maybe you’ve heard of it? It’s “Ithaca Is Gorges”. If you don’t know, we have tons of gorges here and well… it’s gorgeous here too. So the play on words works great.
So a local custom t-shirt maker decided to make “Key West Is Gorges” t-shirts. See the article here.
So are you being boring and doing what every one else is doing? Time to stand out! Time to be different and brand what makes your business so amazing.