Digital marketing on a budget: Gain inspiration from the Faroe Islands’ online strategy


Although global travel is restricted right now, the creativity of some tourism boards is stronger-than-ever. One place this is visible is in the Faroe Islands. 

Since mid-April, Visit Faroe Islands has been adding fuel to the wanderlust fires of many by sharing virtual tours of the archipelago online. In the past, they attached cameras to sheep and let them roam freely. 

The marketing success of the islands’ main tourist organisation is impressive. As of 8th May 2020, they have accumulated 254,000 Instagram followers and 251,000 page likes on Facebook. To put that into context, the Faroe Islands’ population is just under 53,000. 

Their Instagram and Facebook followings are also considerably higher than the 80,000+ of these fluffy creatures that call this patch between Norway, Scotland and Iceland their home. 

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Even if your business has nothing to do with travel, there are a couple of things you can take from Visit Faroe Islands’ success and apply to your own sector. And that’s what we’re going to talk about today. 

What’s particularly impressive about Visit Faroe Islands’ marketing strategy is…

… That their budget isn’t very big. According to an article published by The Drum, Visit Faroe Islands and its team – supported by two advertising agencies – have less than £1.8 million ($2.2 million) to play with. Their staff costs, creatives and owned media must all fall within this.

To put this into comparison, ‘nearby’ Iceland has – according to Digital Marketing Manager Bárður Eklund – a budget which is roughly 10 times larger. 

When talking about the strategies of other companies within the travel industry, he mentioned that the Faroe Islands *literally* can’t afford to not be different if they want to stand out. 

“We see some other countries… making films with the story of ‘this is a great destination – come and visit us once you can’. We cannot make those movies and push through those channels – we don’t have those budgets.  

“When people can travel again, all the tourist organisations are going to try and yell the loudest with fancy billboards and TV commercials. We can never compete with them. We have to think differently.” 

Here’s what you can take from the Faroe Islands’ digital marketing success and apply to your own strategy 

Be yourself. The Faroe Islands have a distinct advantage that their landscape, language and customs are unique. They know what makes them different to everybody else, which is why they’re able to create engaging campaigns that reflect this.

For you, it doesn’t matter which industry you operate in. You will have something that differentiates you from your competitors. Once you determine what this is, and how you can leverage it to relate to your audience, consumers will both notice and appreciate your authenticity. 

Create a game where the odds are in your favour. Maybe you’re similar to Visit Faroe Islands, in the way that you don’t have a big budget at your disposal. Or perhaps you’re the new kid on the block and find yourself in the shadow of more established businesses and websites. 

That doesn’t need to be a problem. Rather than jostling for power with brands that can blow you out of the water, you should instead focus on creating your own unique space. What can you offer that others can’t? For example, would you be able to specialise in a unique form of content marketing, such as podcasting?

Knowing your strengths and playing to them, while also identifying your weaknesses and focusing less on these, will play a key role in determining your success.

If you’re on a shoestring budget, consider the following tips too 

Build an email list. When done correctly, email marketing is one of the best budget-friendly ways to keep your target audience engaged. As soon as you set up your website, you should be encouraging people to sign up and receive content via their inboxes. 

There are plenty of tools out there to get started. One of these is Mailchimp, which allows up to 2,000 contacts and 10,000 sends for free each month. If you need to, you can use paid versions as you scale up. But ultimately, you’ll boost long-term customer retention if you provide valuable and regular content. 

Build a social media presence. Just like email, social media can be a powerful and cost-effective marketing tool when done well. Over two billion people across the globe use Facebook alone, while Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and even Reddit also have a huge pool of users waiting to discover you. 

Rather than going all-in on every platform at once, you’re better off picking one or two and concentrating more of your efforts into those. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to which channels are the best to use – it depends on your own audience’s online behaviour. Find out where they hang out and tailor your strategy accordingly. 

Sort your SEO out. If you’re easier to find in search engines, attracting more traffic becomes less difficult. There are various ways you can improve your SEO – publishing authoritative blog posts, refreshing old content and even utilising video to name three. 

Of course, SEO isn’t something you can plough everything into once and then leave forever. You must carry out regular audits to see what’s still working and what needs to be tweaked. If you teach yourself about the fundamentals of SEO and stay updated with trends, you’ll keep yourself visible. 

Final thoughts 

Whether or not you operate within the travel industry is irrelevant – there’s a lot that you can learn from Visit Faroe Islands’ success. 

Having the most resources doesn’t necessarily determine how well your marketing campaigns perform. It’s instead about how well you use those resources, along with understanding both your target audience AND your own brand. 

Authenticity has always been important. But in a society where superficial nonsense fills much of the air we breathe, it’s even more vital. Fake personas are never sustainable for the long run and even if you attract an audience by putting one on, it won’t be the one that you want. 

Be smart about where and how you spend your time, too. If you believe that you’d stand out through video streaming, rather than posting five times a week on Instagram, go ahead and do that. Don’t adopt certain practices just because everybody else is doing it. 

Once you know where is best to allocate your resources, you’ll be able to develop a more effective digital marketing strategy. Even if you’re on a shoestring budget. 

Keen to pick up more digital marketing advice from people who’ve been there and done it? We’re hosting a free online networking party on Friday, 22nd May. You’ll meet people that could be vital for your business’ growth, along with picking up handy new skills. RSVP here



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