None of the aforementioned companies or brands are current or previous clients of Wilson Advertising, just ones that we admire and find interesting. All trademarked and copyrighted names, marks and logos are the property of their respective companies.
You heard it right. Brands are taking their passion and sharing it through a variety of distribution channels. People are discovering and following them. Then the craziest thing is happening: that audience is seeking them out in real life, creating a destination for travelers and revenue for areas where it didn’t exist before. “If you build it, they will come,” was a great line for a movie, but it’s a hopeful strategy at best. With so many things competing for our time, hoping you break through the noise isn’t a strategy at all. Building an audience is a proactive approach that connects your brand with the customer, and it’s happening all over.
Here are just three examples.
Hamilton, Missouri | Missouri Star Quilt
An hour northeast of Kansas City, in Hamilton, Missouri, a daughter and son started a side project for their mom, Jenny Doan, called Star Quilt. The town, like a lot of small rural towns, was not in great shape. “When the company was founded we had one or two antique stores, city hall, a Subway®, and a couple gas stations,” said co-founder Alan Doan. “We wanted to give people a reason to stay in a rural town in Missouri.”
Things started slowly, but really took off when Jenny started doing tutorials on YouTube™. Now a bona fide YouTube star with more than 400,000 subscribers and millions of views, the business is steaming along—and it’s brought the town with it. Missouri Star Quilt is now the largest employer in the county (more than 180 people) and it’s transformed Main Street into a quilter’s paradise. One person interviewed by NPR drove from California to Missouri just to visit the company. “It was my dream to get here and see Jenny.” When she arrived, instead of seeing a strip of rundown buildings—as she would have seen a few years ago—she strolled among a dozen different shops and restaurants, and even Man’s Land, a respite for non-quilters.
Waco, Texas | Magnolia Market at the Silos
Chip and Joanna Gaines are the husband and wife team that host the popular television show, “Fixer Upper,” on HGTV. Each episode, they partner with prospective homebuyers to find homes around the town of Waco, Texas, that could use some TLC in addition to design upgrades. Luckily for the buyers, the couple offers both renovation and interior design services, with Chip managing the build and construction and Joanna lending her unique design sensibilities. Their skills, combined with their funny, approachable on-screen personalities, have created a passionate worldwide audience.
They have worked to build their business into a legitimate lifestyle brand, a line of home paint, a wallpaper line, and a quarterly journal, among other things—and people can’t seem to get enough. The result has been to drive a new energy into the area as visitors come from around the world to see what the Gaineses and the local craftsmen they partner with have created. To accommodate those guests, they created the Magnolia Market at the Silos. Once abandoned grain silos, they are now the backdrop for shopping, games, relaxing in a garden, and grabbing a bite to eat. It’s the perfect place to think and dream about your own space, just as the Gaineses imagined.
Helvetia, Oregon | Roloff Farms
Some people have trouble imagining big dreams and stop short of pursuing them. That’s not a problem for Matt Roloff and his family, the focus of the TLC reality show, “Little People Big World.” The show follows the family: father and mother, Matt and Amy, both little people; and their four children, only one of which is little, around their farm in rural Oregon. The Roloff family and their “never quit” attitude turned what began as a dilapidated 34 acres into a family home, farm, and a thriving business.
For years people tuned into see what was happening on the farm and what the family was into that season. In the beginning, pumpkins were the draw as people came from all over to pick pumpkins in the fall. The farm morphed to accommodate the growing crowds and entertain them while they were there. The other projects around the farm changed as their children grew, from fantasy pirate ships to wedding barns. Recognizing that their audience would love to experience what they’ve seen on television, they’ve hosted weddings, created a bed and breakfast, and developed other projects that bring their audience into their world.
Sharing a Passion
What is the one thing that these three family brands have in common? They converted their passionate audience into destination seekers. Because these families exude a passion for what they do and a willingness to share it, they connect with people all over the world. But all three understood that simply creating an audience was the first step. The next was to develop smart, creative, and ever-changing destination brands to attract and engage those audiences. Their ability to relate to their audiences, help, entertain, and let them into their worlds is the reason for their successes.