In marketing, we have a popular saying: If you can describe the customer’s problem better than they can, they will trust you have a solution.
On the surface that sounds like a call for big words--and lots of them--to show you’re “better” at using language. But it’s really a call for empathy, because people want to trust someone who shows a genuine understanding of their deeper motivations.
That’s simple when businesses offer limited products or serve limited clientele. But what if you had multiple businesses under a single brand and needed a unified message that spoke in a meaningful way to different customer types?
This was our challenge when we started working with Redwood Coast Cabin & RV Resort in late 2020. Their network of RV parks in Northern California needed new websites and branding for four locations, but a common message that linked them together. To accomplish this we had to look beyond the unique appeal of each park and discover what common motivations linked different types of campers.
Knowing the Audience
We were off to a strong start when our client described the varieties of campers who chose to stay at their parks.
During the summer, they hosted regular vacationers and snowbirds, while the off-season saw more students in town for college. Throughout the year they hosted long-term and full-time RV’ers, traveling workers like doctors and utility employees, and wanderers exploring the open road.
This helped us narrow the questions we needed to answer such as, “Who is the typical customer?” “Where do they hail from?” “What is their background?” But while this demographic information was valuable, the breakthrough came when we looked at the words customers used to describe their own experiences.
Finding a Clear Motivation
Online reviews have become a tremendous tool for customer research. People are free to describe the good, the bad and the ugly, while reviews can be cross-referenced to compare how customers rate similar businesses elsewhere.
Negative reviews are particularly helpful, because customers tend to provide greater detail and vividly describe the disappointment they feel. Their disappointment may not always be valid, their reviews offer a clear picture of the expectations that drew them to a business in the first place.
And that’s the motherlode: A clear picture of emotional motivation.
For Redwood RV, we analyzed dozens of reviews from numerous parks, keeping track of when customers used emotions to describe their experiences. They were often excited by hiking opportunities, comforted by ease of check-in and glad to have friendly neighbors.
That is when a pattern emerged.
Looking Through the Client’s Point of View
Time and again, campers who enjoyed their stay felt like everything was effortless, from parking their RV to stocking up at the corner store. They sometimes mentioned location, affordability and other factors, but ease and relaxation were the deal-breakers between a good or a bad experience at every park we studied.
When we compared this to what we already knew about campers and RV life, it made a lot of sense. Camping is very ritualistic, from the way someone packs their RV, to how they navigate from rest stop to rest stop and arrive with enough time to set up camp before dinner.
In the same way someone prepares coffee to tell themselves, “Time to start the day,” or kicks back with a beer after work to tell themselves, “Time to unwind,” the ritual of camping helps us say, “Time to take a break from the real world.”
This camping state of mind brought it all together. It meant different things to different campers, but showed empathy for the same inner motivation.
Different Paths to the Same Goal
With this foundation in place, we built our client’s brand around the message, “Camping should be an escape, not a source of anxiety.” Each park’s website would highlight this as their goal, but describe the unique ways they help campers relax.
This is when demographics came back into the picture.
Redwood Coast Cabin & RV Resort is away from the big city and has large spaces to play, providing escape for families with kids and campers looking for a slower pace of life. These tend to be summer campers and snowbirds.
Shoreline RV Park is close to Historic Downtown Eureka and across the street from a large shopping center, providing escape for campers interested in cultural experiences and creature comforts. These tend to be traveling workers, long-term campers and young couples.
Redwood Meadows RV Park is in the midst of old-growth redwoods and close to popular hiking and nature viewing destinations, providing escape for adventurers and those who admire the beauty of nature. These tend to be summer campers, snowbirds, those living on the open road.
Crescent City KOA has easy highway access to towns and tourist destinations throughout the region, as well as has redwood hikes and other family-friendly recreation on-site, providing escape for families and those who want to explore Northern California. These tend to be summer campers, snowbirds and young couples.
The puzzle was solved. We’d found a unified message for four unique brands that didn’t just invite campers to rent a space, but empathized with their need for time away from the outside world.
A Strong Message is More than Words
With messaging squared away, our designers took the baton and looked at how they could achieve the same results through graphic design. Their solution was to use a layout that was consistent between websites, but with color palettes unique to each park.
These colors were carefully chosen to reflect the offerings of each location, with earthy green for Redwood Meadows, a vibrant teal for Shoreline, deep blue for Redwood Coast and bold emerald for Crescent City KOA. These colors were also applied to the third-party booking pages used by each park for a smooth, consistent user experience.
And our messaging is meant to go beyond the website itself. With the ethos of helping people relax, our client was encouraged to use this in the way they communicate with staff, business partners, vendors and any communication they engage in as a business.
Because when this type of ideal becomes more than a talking point but a way of life, that is when the customer feels truly reassured. They are encouraged to come back, to tell their friends, and spread the word that they found a business who truly knows how they feel.
EvenVision simultaneously designed four separate webpages for our companies. Their staff were efficient, provided excellent guidance and suggestions throughout the course of the builds, and were highly responsive to feedback and requests. We are extremely satisfied with the end product, and will not hesitate to use them again in the future.
—Alec Ziegler, Redwood Coast RV
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