The Northwoods of Wisconsin has long been a draw for outdoors adventurers thanks to its thousands of lakes and endless miles of recreation trails. Recently, several destination marketing organizations in the area–including Oneida County, Langlade County, Forest County, and Lincoln County–wanted to take a closer look at something that’s been growing in popularity: ATVing and UTVing. Working closely with these groups (and aided by a Joint Effort Marketing Grant from the state Department of Tourism), we created several helpful new resources and a successful marketing campaign that spread the word about the great riding in Wisconsin’s Northwoods.
Learning more about the market
First, we wanted to learn more about ATVers and UTVers in the region and what they knew about the Northwoods’ trail offerings. We conducted a survey of riders from across the Midwest to learn about their riding habits, interests, and familiarity with the trail systems in northern Wisconsin and received more than 500 responses.
‘It’s always a great ride Up North’
Not only had the vast majority of our survey respondents used the ATVing and UTVing trails throughout the Northwoods of Wisconsin, their impressions of the trails themselves were overwhelmingly positive. Riders said they were impressed by everything from the abundance of trails to the beautiful northern Wisconsin scenery to the “mom and pop” places to stop during their rides.
We had learned that ATV and UTV riders knew about the Northwoods’ trails and liked riding them, which helped guide our marketing strategy going forward–namely, to highlight these assets and give riders a comprehensive source of information about where to ride throughout northern Wisconsin.
It’s always a great ride Up North. We live in central Wisconsin and don’t have the awesome trails like you do up north. We travel 2-3 hours to ride up north…
Working with stakeholders
Now that we had a picture of who our audience was (and how familiar they were with the area’s trails), we moved forward with a strategic planning session that incorporated the Northwoods’ key stakeholders, including local chambers and CVBs and area ATV clubs. We analyzed the survey data and used these groups’ valuable input to determine the next steps in our marketing strategy.
Highlighting a Northwoods asset
While many ATV/UTV riders and prospective visitors might have been aware of the Northwoods’ trails already, it was our job to highlight these trails and make those riders who hadn’t come to northern Wisconsin yet see what they’d been missing. To start, we compiled existing assets–including photography and trail information–from counties, local ATV/UTV groups and other organizations, then set out to capture what makes the area such a special riding destination through a series of photo and video shoots in Forest, Oneida, Lincoln and Langlade counties.
Comprehensive information for riders
With our market research and existing assets in hand, it was time to get the message out about northern Wisconsin’s outstanding options for ATVing and UTVing. Our Web and Content teams worked together to create a compelling, one-stop website that ATVers and UTVers could use to find information about riding in our four-county Northwoods area. The engaging site incorporates the photos and videos we produced, as well as trail info and maps, information about local ATV/UTV clubs, and more. It also highlights local businesses–gas stations, restaurants, and more–along each of the county’s ATV trails.
We also wanted riders to have something tangible they could use when they were visiting the Northwoods on their ATV/UTV trips, so we took the highlights from the extensive web content we had compiled and created a handy trail map for the four-county region. The map includes vital information about the trails, including GPS locations and descriptions, and riders can get the map from the Northwoods ATV/UTV website or via any of our destination partners.