Case Studies

“I just got the stats on the traffic driven to by this year’s Inyo County ad campaign that uses your ads and your placements and you knocked it out of the park.” Jon Klusmire, Inyo County/Eastern California Museum

Following are a few of my favorite marketing projects: Tahoe Keepers, Sierra Nevada GeotourismInyo County, and Tahoe Arts and Mountain Culture.

Tahoe Keepers

Need:  Brand Identity & Educational Outreach Program

To prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS) into Lake Tahoe by non-motorized users, the myriad public agencies needed an outreach program to motivate paddlers and kayakers to self-inspect and decontaminate their gear. While the mandatory Tahoe boat inspections program targeted at motorized operators can be controlled and enforced, reaching paddlers poses a unique challenge since they can launch anywhere.

Approach:  After several meetings and analyzing available boat inspection and user profile data, Bell developed a customized outreach program based on the core values and culture of waterborne stewards she named Tahoe Keepers.

To influence behavior, Bell developed a communications strategy to “connect the experience to stewardship” through a highly integrated campaign. To bring the strategy to life, Bell developed the Tahoe Keepers brand identity and hired her go-to graphic designer Greg Brady to create the Tahoe Keepers logo.  To genuinely create an indelible impression in the mind of local and visiting non-motorized watercraft operators, the Tahoe Keepers brand identity portrays each boater’s intimate connection to Lake Tahoe to convey stewardship, pride and respect. Bell also wanted to deliberately leverage the highly recognized “Keep Tahoe Blue” conservation campaign developed by the League to Save Lake Tahoe.  Tahoe Keepers is a natural extension of this famous campaign and visually embodies the values of the waterborne stewardship community.

By connecting the experience to stewardship, Bell knew boaters would identify with the brand and feel a sense of responsibility and obligation to participate in the self-inspection and decontamination training program.  The impassioned appeal of the core communications message developed by Bell, “Protect your favorite place. Protect your favorite pastime.” naturally creates a sustainable cornerstone for the entire outreach campaign that includes an online membership program, watercraft inspectors, and local residents and businesses that assist in the distribution of the clean boating message to visitors.

Results: After creating the sustainable strategy, brand identity and outreach campaign in four short months, Bell was retained to help build the campaign foundation and implement core components in 2011. Bell assisted with the development of the Tahoe Keepers website, secured the URL, developed the framework and strategy for the Facebook community page, obtained local photography, wrote core messages for communication materials, defined the Tahoe Keepers roving inspectors role, and outlined the protocol for working with local paddle shops, aka the Keeper Fleet.  Within two months after announcing, more than 200 people had successfully completed the online training and received Tahoe Keeper membership decals.  As of July 2014, more than 2,000 people have registered as Tahoe Keepers.

Sierra Nevada Geotourism

Sierra Nevada GeotourismNeed:  Destination Brand & Sustainable Marketing Program

Bell was contracted by Placer County Resource Conservation District and Sierra Nevada Conservancy from 2010 to 2014 as the Website and Marketing Manager.

Sierra Nevada Geotourism (SNGT) is a collaborative rural tourism program developed and managed by Sierra Business Council (SBC) and Sierra Nevada Conservancy (SNC), in partnership with National Geographic Society. Managers needed a sustainable marketing program to promote the 25 counties of the Sierra Nevada as a world-class destination, while contributing to the socio-economic health and preservation of the region’s natural and cultural resources.

Approach:  Working extensively with SBC and SNC program managers, tourism officials, county economic development departments, land managers, and Sierra Nevada businesses and residents, Bell combined their input along with her experience and research to develop a long-term “GeoExplorer” marketing program and brand identity/logo designed by Greg Brady.

Bell designed the SNGT GeoExplorer marketing program to establish the SNGT website,, as the definitive travel planning source for the Sierra Nevada, and to encourage visitations to the businesses and attractions featured on the SNGT website.  To engage identified market segments and bring the SNGT destination to life, the SNGT “GeoExplorer” logo genuinely connects the National Geographic brand with modern day explorers personified by local residents and the visitors who share their stewardship values.

Sierra Nevada Geotourism adAlong with SBC and SNC staff, Bell helped to design and meticulously edit a SNGT printed map in 2011. With limited marketing funds, Bell developed comprehensive annual marketing action plans for 2011 to 2014 that included print map distribution in targeted geographic markets, and highly leveraged ad buys utilizing DMO coop advertising.  Bell developed the advertising headline and core message platform integrated into every tactic, “Get off the beaten path.” to clearly differentiate the SNGT travel experience and to connect with Geotourists.

Results:  Traffic to the SNGT website grew more than 50% between May-Aug 2013 compared to the year prior. The SNGT GeoExplorer Marketing Campaign won a California Parks and Recreation “Marketing and Communications Award of Excellence” in 2013.  Along with marketing management, Bell was responsible for editing all website content including sponsor banner ads and local recommendations to ensure they met National Geographic geotourism standards of excellence.

Inyo County: The Other Side of California

The Other Side of CaliforniaNeed:  Destination Brand & Sustainable Marketing Program

Bell worked on this project while employed at Strategic Marketing Group in 2004.

Located in the Eastern Sierra of California, Inyo County needed a brand identity to create one unifying theme for the entire destination. It also needed a long-term tourism marketing program to differentiate the destination from the competition and build demand for visiting the county, and in turn, increase tax revenues.

I.  Brand Development

Approach: A brand building exercise with tourism officials, county supervisors, land managers and a cross-section of community members was conducted. Using this input along with a review of Inyo County’s competitive set brands, Bell developed three strategic options that were sent via email survey to the Inyo County visitor database to vote on the image and tagline.

From a tourism assessment, Bell understood that the greatest challenge was educating visitors that Inyo County is located in California not Nevada. (Many people think that Death Valley and the Eastern Sierra are in Nevada.) To correct this misconception, Bell worked with designer Greg Brady to create options that would clearly represent a geographic sense of place and an emotional state of mind for Inyo County. The brand also had to be completely different from the competition and defensible over the long-term.

Results: The Other Side of California” and a vintage old world poster theme were chosen. The tagline was designed by Bell to clarify the geographic location, and to promote the distinguishable Inyo County experience and attractions that are completely different from more well-known California attractions such as the beach, wine country and Disneyland.

II.  Sustainable Tourism Marketing Program

Approach:  Bell used authenticity as the core strategy to guide the creative execution of all marketing tactics and to reach the identified market segments.

Bell segmented the Inyo County target markets by lifestyle preferences such as fishing, hiking, mountaineering, motor touring; and two primary geographic markets — Southern California and Las Vegas.

Bell understood that Inyo County locals, past and present, personify California’s true adventurous spirit that is confirmed by countless stories of heroic proportions and stunning photography. In addition to this adventurous spirit, the county’s timeless character, rich cultural heritage, diverse geological magnificence, and undeveloped nature also define its allure.

Results: Bell developed a creative concept that would bring Inyo County to life through its local characters. A print and online campaign using vintage photos of locals and legends in identifiable locations was used as the corner stone for the entire marketing program. The vintage photos helped to promote the timeless character and undeveloped nature of Inyo County and support the headline: Legendary Experiences. Larger than Life.

This creative theme was used in every marketing execution to introduce the county’s tourism assets, create continuity for the entire program, stretch limited ad dollars, and tie together existing Inyo County print materials and websites with a similar feel and color scheme.

Meticulous planning by Bell landed 71 placements in eleven publications targeted primarily at Southern California and Las Vegas. The Inyo County website, was redesigned which includes a Content Management System so Inyo County can easily update and manage the content. Until this day, Inyo County continues to use the same brand creative guidelines, and destination positioning copy written by Bell.

Tahoe Arts and Mountain Culture Website

Tahoe Arts and Mountain CultureNeed: Community Identity

Approach: Combining her extensive knowledge of authenticity and geotourism marketing concepts with her own travel behavior, Becky Bell launched the Tahoe Arts and Mountain Culture (TAMC) website – – in 2007.  The website creatively captures an important travel element missing from many destination websites and vacation planning resources – the local’s perspective. Bell designed TAMC to give the destination life and distinction through the exposure of the local artists, individuals, businesses and events that define the unique mountain culture and embody Tahoe’s creative and entrepreneurial spirit.

Keep Tahoe CultureResults:  Bell has built a legitimate and well-respected voice for the local community which has successfully attracted viewers from primary California feeder markets and out of state. More than 50% of TAMC visitors reside outside of Lake Tahoe and Truckee, with most living in Sacramento followed by San Francisco, and Northern Nevada. Along with a comprehensive marketing program, the Culture Connection monthly e-newsletter had an average open rate of 46% and click-through rate of 48%, well-above the national average. Bell won the 2009 Entrepreneur Award presented by the South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce and the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority.

Happy PlaceLake Tahoe Website Creates Authentic Connections

In addition to introducing the people who embody Tahoe-Truckee’s creative and entrepreneurial spirit, Bell also wanted to reach the growing number of travelers aware of their socio-economic impact on a destination’s local community and physical environment.

“By highlighting the local people, places, history, activities and environment, TAMC gives conscious travelers insight into how we live as well as our habits, tastes and values that originate from our innate relationship with the natural beauty of Lake Tahoe. I wanted to provide a resource for people to authentically connect to Lake Tahoe that will encourage visitations to local businesses and events, as well as preservation of our mountain culture and participation in the protection of our natural resources.”  Becky Bell