Not Just Content – Wise Content

A family-owned, 34-room Smoky Mountains motel uses wise content tactics to triple its sales over the past three years. Here’s how they did it.

Your phone number no longer qualifies as your content, much less wise content.

Back in the day, you put your phone number on display – lawn signs, billboards, the side of your truck — and people called you. The rest was up to you: You closed the sale or you didn’t. Alas, the days of your phone number as your lead marketing piece has gone the way of the Yellow Pages.

“People don’t remember phone numbers anymore,” Joseph Franklyn McElroy, CEO of Galileo Tech Media, said on this episode of the Publio Podcast. “They will remember your neighborhood, the tagline on your building, or your company’s name. But they will not remember your phone number because they figure they’ll find you online.”

Yes, put your phone number on your website, but, McElroy explained, “make sure that your website tells people what you do – and not who you are or that you’re merely here.”

This is what wise content is all about. When you put up a sign, make sure people can find your online content based on what they see on your sign.

“You gotta optimize for Google and your business page,” he added. “You’ve gotta do all the things that make sure people find you when they search for you.”

Wise content requires a modern marketing machine, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. That’s the sophisticated work. You must still do the heavy lift of producing content with freelancers and content machines, and all the things that make your marketing machine run. 

“You’re just not gonna open the door one day,” McElroy said. “Those days of instant internet gratification are gone.”

“But,” Publio CEO Keith Reynolds added during the podcast, “you can be up and running in 90 days. You just have to do it right.”

“True,” McElroy agreed, “but you’ll still need somebody to keep the team on track, who understands the emergencies, who can interpret the data and make decisions.”

Wise content demands commitment. Wise content gets results. 

How Wise Content and Memorable Experiences Turned the Meadowlark Motel Around

The Meadowlark Motel has been in McElroy’s family since the 1940s. The early days were prosperous for the motel because a nearby amusement park attracted a steady stream of families. But things change. The amusement park shut down, and the families stopped coming in. Room prices dropped and the Meadowlark was going to seed. 

“The Meadowlark has been in my family for 70 years, and I decided that I’m not gonna be the owner that let it die,” McElroy said. “I did not want that legacy.”

Here are some examples of how he used wise content strategies to triple Meadowlark’s revenue over three years, and put it on track to becoming a million-dollar property.

Understand the client base

Research showed that people come to North Carolina’s Maggie Valley for a good vacation experience. People like:

  • Middle aged and older couples who want to relax in the mountains.
  • Motorcyclists who are seeking the area’s world class trails such as the Tail of the Dragon and the Rattler
  • Beginner skiers who are attracted to nearby ski resorts. A perfect outing for church groups and youth groups.
  • Leaf peepers in the autumn and families in the summer who want to experience the mountains.


Check out the competition

None of Meadowlark’s competitors allowed pets. “People with dogs had no place to go, so we redesigned the motel to make it pet friendly,” McElroy said. “We get people with dogs every day.”

Have a vision

The Meadowlark is part of the original motel road culture, and retro motels have come into vogue. McElroy embraced these ideas with the motel’s Appalachian chic design concept. These target audiences are millennials and single women (or girlfriends) who want an adventure at a cool, cute place in the mountains. 

meadowlark night pavilion

Memorable tourism experiences

McElroy’s team knows that memorable experiences seal brand loyalty. Recurring events such as free barbeques costs only $7.50 per person. Compare that to the $35 that Meadowlark pays to booking agencies. 

“Now we have people coming four or five times a year,” McElroy added.


Wise Content and digital advertising

Email campaigns and contests for a free three-night stay draw people to the site. “Right now, we have 50,000 people from the tri-state region on our email list,” McElroy said. The emails attract several stays each week that bypass the booking agencies, which means McElroy doesn’t have to pay commissions.

“We’re up to 60 percent direct booking now.”

The marketing side of the operation hinges on creating anticipation, whether it’s autumn colors, winter ski slopes, scenic motorcycle rides, barbeques, the motel’s Appalachian Chic vibe, or any of the Smokey Mountain attractions. Once the customers arrive, the staff delivers on their expectations.

A wise content strategy is not a one-and-done proposition. It’s a long-term commitment that should last for about as long as you want your business to succeed. 

“When you get this all clicking together, you’re no longer having sales conversations with people,” McElroy said. “You start to notice how you’ve enriched people’s lives.”

Listen to the Publio Podcast

Jump in on the conversations and some serious real talk with executives and thought leaders on growing your business with digital media. Find us on Spotify, and follow your North Star.

We discuss innovation, marketing, business, events, books, successful must-see strategies, and anything that is positive and refreshing.

If you are responsible for your company’s success, pull up a chair, grab some coffee, tune in and connect with your customer audience.

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