Talk up Wisconsin

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:36 pm

I bet most of us have never considered ourselves ambassadors.

We think of ambassadors as high-ranking U.S. diplomats smoothing over relationships with other countries. However, ambassadors can also be informal representatives or ambassadors of good will. When you think about it, we are all important ambassadors for Wisconsin. We can help create a positive impression of our state.

The things we do and say have a direct impact on how others view Wisconsin. Our actions, comments, and attitudes can influence business decisions, travel plans, and the image that people inside and outside the state have of Wisconsin.

It is commonly believed that the sole role of business marketing is to sell our state outwardly to the corporate community and business decision-makers. However, it is also important that we market inwardly. Only when we as Wisconsinites understand and express why we love living here, what we have to offer as a state, and become fully committed to bettering our image, will efforts to market Wisconsin reach their full potential.

The marketing process is largely informal. It’s about people talking to each other and the relationships and impressions created through that interaction. We as Wisconsinites can be our own worst enemy with our conservative nature and modesty. Although admirable, it is not always advantageous when working to promote the state as a business or vacation destination. Some of us need to brag a little more, talk up our state and community a little more, and be a little more outwardly proud of Wisconsin. We are in the best position to tell our own story so let’s toot our own horn.

Business executives ask other business executives what their perceptions are of a state or region’s business climate. They additionally base their perceptions on their experience in traveling to a state or region, and, finally, corporate decision-makers place strong importance on what others are saying – the "word of mouth" factor.

Poor and inaccurate perceptions have a way of becoming reality if left unchecked. When I ask people from outside the state what they know about Wisconsin, the answers are invariably, "The Packers, cheese and beer." Although I typically counter that those are things that we can definitely count as assets for our state, I also make clear that Wisconsin has so much more to offer.

Did you know, for example, that Wisconsin has one of the best technical college systems in the nation and that the University of Wisconsin System is a world leader in not only education but also in research? That Wisconsin is home to the world’s largest outdoor music festival and experimental aviation show? Or, that the National Institutes of Health recently made Wisconsin home to the nation’s first and only National Stem Cell Bank? And, that Wisconsin is the number one papermaking state in the U.S? What about our high school seniors being ranked first or second on ACT college entrance exam scores for the past 11 years?

We all can play the role of Ambassador for the State of Wisconsin. In the future, take the opportunity to talk about Wisconsin when visiting another state or region. We should all be positive and proud of Wisconsin and consider it our duty to let others know why.

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