Local Digital Marketing – Lessons We Learned From a Dark Sky Ordinance That Increased Tourist Business

Dec 07, 2014 Mike Hanna


Here’s a successful story that can inspire you in creating your local digital marketing strategy. Sanibel Island is an island located off the coast of Ft. Myers Florida. It was first connected to the mainland by causeway in 1963, and soon incorporated as a city. While the rest of Florida was developing into a Disneyland of sorts, Sanibel took the opposite approach. It wanted to preserve its traditions.
The island is known for its pristine white beaches and abundant wild life. When first founded, the main task before the city counsel was to preserve the island’s natural environment.
Ding Darling National Wildlife Preserve occupies a large portion of the island, so environmental protection was, and continues to be a high priority. At the top of the list for the first counsel members was the protection of the Loggerhead Turtles. The turtles, an endangered species, lay their eggs in holes that they dig into the beach. The hatchlings use the light of the moon over the Gulf of Mexico as a beacon to the sea.
Artificial lights from beach homes and businesses disorients the hatchlings, usually steering them to their deaths. To protect the turtles and environment, the city counsel passed two important ordinances. The first banned stoplights and street lights on the island. The second was the adoption of the International Dark Sky Association’s mission of preserving and protecting the nighttime environment.
Darkness is when the body produces melatonin and resets our master clock. Tourists who visit Sanibel not only experience a great night’s sleep, they also get to witness the dark sky unpolluted by ground lights.
The magnificence and majesty of the heavens, as the ancient people witnessed it, is just as awe-
inspiring today as it was to our ancestors. The undisturbed heavens is what inspired poets, philosophers, dreamers and lovers, and yet it is disappearing in most of the modern world; except on Sanibel and a few other places.
“Visitors are encouraged to look into the heavens,” and when they do they are amazed. They experience infinity, tranquility and the beauty of the universe. They see stars, planets and meteor showers in “Full HD”. They are utterly transfixed.
Sanibel’s adoption of the IDSA mission has ignited tourist imagination which has led to more positive publicity, which has lead to even more tourists, and has made Sanibel one of the most sought after vacation spots in Florida. There are two lessons to be learned from Sanibel’s forward thinking:

  1. Email communication to your customers is not always about stumping for sales. Your business’s good deeds and forward thinking will inspire loyality and drive sales.
  2. Your customers are interested in what you do besides sell products and services.

Keep these two lessons in mind when you create your local digital marketing strategy. All of us have been tempted at some point to think exclusively on the sales aspect of marketing, due to our limited finances. But the truth is that you don’t need to focus on sales, to drive sales. You don’t even need to invest huge amounts of money to have a successful strategy.
Think about engaging your customers with relevant, inspiring, and entertaining messages. Show them that your local digital marketing is not all about the profit. Convince your customers that you want to communicate with them. Show the human element of your business and you will reap the benefits.
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