An interesting use of a QR code in downtown Reykjavik
An interesting use of a QR code in downtown Reykjavik

I just got back from the land of the Vikings with some fun friends.

We toured through Iceland and were in constant awe at the endless beauty. Upon first reflection, I found the people of Iceland to be very friendly, the land to be a mixed bundle of topography, and the water and air as clean as it gets.

Many people have asked me, “What made you want to go to Iceland?” “Because it looked really cool,” I reply. As a marketer, I have to say that the Icelandic people have done a really good job at marketing themselves. And let’s be clear—I mean the whole package—from product and promotion to delivering on promises, to sheer dumb luck. Yes, I include dumb luck because in this day and age, you never know what’s going to go viral. For example, in 2010 an unpronounceable volcano erupts and catches the eyes of the world because it stops air traffic and we get to see journalists sound stupid trying to pronounce Eyjafjallajokull. One very savvy journalist said, “In America, we pronounce it volcano.” Funny. In case you’re interested, it’s pronounced: Eh ya—fee yaht lah—yo koot.

In addition to the free media promotions about erupting volcanoes, Icelanders do a really nice job of promoting themselves. As a group, they are a fun, friendly people so their promotions are a good representation of the kind of folk you’ll meet there. Not so much the bloodthirsty Vikings of the past, or the scary trolls that hide in the glens, but a kinder more friendly folk who still believe in elves and fairies and who stock up on booze at the duty free shop at the airport.

But let’s talk about the how these Vikings sell themselves to the world. In ancient times they founded and plundered much of the civilized world. But now, through a variety of tactics, they invite travelers to visit their tiny island for a peaceful and relaxing vacation.

Photography and Messaging

The ads and brochures capture the fun spirit of the people, and the photos they use let you see the stunning beauty of the landscapes (as well as the gorgeous geothermic spa where your problems just float away).

Some of the promotions I saw on Icelandair include messages such as:

  • The great thing about Iceland isn’t the country’s [900] volcanoes, it’s the fact that the prime minister is listed in the phone book.
  • The great thing about Iceland isn’t the fresh fish caught every day in the crystal clear waters, it’s the fact that the most famous restaurant is a hot dog stand.

Words and pictures. They can create a compelling story and are leading more and more visitors to the shores of this geological wonder. When creating your marketing pieces, make sure to include great photos that tell the story of your event, products, and organization. At CSG we have access to some excellent photographers who can capture the excitement of your expo hall and compel exhibitors and attendees alike to participate in your next event. In addition to the photos, tell your story through action-oriented and interesting headlines and copy. Make sure the reader can get a feel of the character of your organization or the reward of attending your conference. Buying decisions are made from emotions, and words and photographs are a perfect way to tell your story.

Social Media and the Web

One thing I will say about travel is that a whole lot of us are finding places to stay and eat as well as good travel tours by combing through the Web. If you have good reviews on Trip Advisor you’re going to grow your business. My group found some truly superb activities as well as that famous hot dog stand I mentioned earlier by reading reviews and comments online.

Lesson learned—if you deliver a great product at a reasonable price, whatever your business, you can create net promoters who will sell your brand for you. Go where your customers are. Ask your customers to become fans on Facebook or to follow you on Twitter. Just make sure you provide fun and interesting content that keeps them coming back and excited about your company, product, or even your country. Engage your audience, link to their sites, make it fun, offer professional help relevant to their interests. See below for an example of how one of my Iceland tour guides successfully uses Facebook to connect with his customers.

Product, Customer Service, and Delivering an Experience

I hate to share this wonderful tour group because it was so special and I want to keep it that way in case I go back, but I will for the sake of you, my dear CSG faithful blog follower. The quirky duo that make up Goecco Outdoor Adventures have developed a very unique product and they differentiate themselves from the myriad day tours by offering trips that are more customized, more intimate, and a bit mysterious. Jonas, our guide, took us to some “secret places” that allowed us to experience Iceland in a very special way. The places we went, the stories he told us, the food they cooked (whale being one such item), and the laughs made the product truly exceptional. Jonas was very conscious of delivering an excellent experience by keeping the customer as his number one priority. He also does a fantastic job of connecting to all his customers and friends via his Facebook page. As soon as you send an email to him or show interest he finds you on Facebook and friends you. Then he posts fun things and replies to all his friend’s comments. It’s a bit surprising coming from this self-described hippy, conspiracy theorist, but he’s got a heart of gold and a wonderful imagination.

So, Iceland marketing is pretty well done I think—they are inviting their guests to do the plundering now. I admit, they caught some breaks having the inspiring scenery of volcanoes, glaciers, green pastures, lava fields, and breathtaking waterfalls surrounded by great oceans. But even so, it’s what you do with it that counts. Their promotions reflect their spirit and they create a great experience for their visitors. For your business, I would suggest following their lead. Provide an excellent product. Offer exceptional customer service and train your staff to live for the “wow” moments—that is giving your members and customers an experience that leaves them saying, “wow.” And then use language, words, graphics, and photography to tell your story.

If you have traveled to Iceland or other wonderful places and would like to share your experiences here, please do. The more perspectives the better! Tell us, what kind of marketing gets your attention and makes you want to travel to certain places? Where is your next trip?

luscious Iceland
From glaciers, green mountains and volcanoes to mossy lava fields, pretty pastures, and gorgeous waterfalls, Icleand has it all.
Kerid volcanic crater
Crystal blue water in the Kerid volcanic crater.