The South Dakota Department of Tourism was recently in Rapid City meeting with tourism businesses to tell them that the and the good folks at Sioux Falls' Lawrence & Schiller Advertising Agency have discovered a new concept: Targeted marketing! Eureka! Tourism's problems are solved! Tourism businesses needn't worry about the high cost of fuel, the tanking economy or the competition! All they need to do is trust Lawrence & Schiller to buy ads featuring "sad-eyed Labrador retrievers begging, 'Take me hunting'" for them in hunting magazines. Read it in the Journal here. Boy those guys are geniuses.
They have identified three groups of people whom – each with household incomes of $80,000 or more – they have "typified" as visitors: Mobile Mom Mollys (married women with kids who travel often to places with pretty scenery); Al and Alice (over 50 travelers who enjoy national parks); and Hunter Henrys (35-65 men who travel to hunt with friends).
As is always the case with east river researchers, they sort of forgot about the more than 400,000 people who come here each year to ride their motorcycles in the Black Hills. Maybe they couldn't come up with a sophomoric alliterative name for them – like Biker Brewsters. The Travel Channel, in 2000, did their own research and called the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally the largest annually recurring tourism event on the planet.
Lawrence and Schiller's and the Tourism Department's omission further advances the myth that bikers coming to South Dakota don't patronize tourism-related business. And, that is just plain baloney. Most bikers make an annual ride to Mount Rushmore. Now if Rushmore has 2 million visitors annually, and 400,000 bikers are among them...well, that's significant. It's significant at half that many. Apparently, Lawrence and Schiller and Tourism believe bikers don't buy food, lodging, entertainment or fuel while they are here. They do. Ask any waitress in any restaurant.
Yet, hunting magazines, homemaker magazines, and AARP magazines are where the state wants businesses to focus their advertising dollars.
I'm all for targeted marketing. But, I'd like to see the department more accurately defining the markets they are trying to target.