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Adirondack or Tri-Lakes “Incorporated”
March 19, 2011 - Ernest Hohmeyer
A Perfect Storm As cut-backs continue and the economy bobbles up and down, I wonder if a perfect storm is brewing through a combination of economic uncertainty, potential increases in local taxes and additional appeals by worthy community organizations who have suffered budget cuts.
Perhaps we can be more effective by working together as businesses and a community to create cooperative and lasting strategies to help local organizations. As a group we have the potential to pool our resources into a more permanent mechanism like a “community endowment” then what is often for many of us an annual shot-gun approach.
More Choices Less Dollars Locally, we are in a Pandora’s Box of folks potentially spending less and yet wanting to be sure they are getting good “value” when they get here.
They are sure to compare our “value” experience with other nature-based communities.
They may end up traveling less at a time where their choices to be in nature are more plentiful. The folks in New Jersey, Connecticut or the New York City can just as easily travel to the Jersey shore, Martha’s Vineyard, the Green and White Mountains or the coast of Maine.
At a time when tourism budgets are being cut locally and in the state, some of these locations are making more of an effort to cull these potential visitors.
Their money is tight as well so they are exploring new cooperative partnerships between businesses and communities. They are expanding their resources and marketing power by joining up with who were once their competitive neighbors.
We need to start working even more feverishly as a community, as a Tri-lake region, as an Adirondack Park. We have to work together to give folks the impression we are a destination and to make clear our brand.
Filled with small businesses, we are often too small to portray ourselves as a destination, but together we can do so. It may require new thinking in terms of packaging and cooperative ventures. It is not just regulated to tourism folks but having unique packages with health and wellness businesses, outdoor organizations, and downtown retail shops to create, for example, the new marketing tool of “virtual destinations.”
Offering Something For Everyone Think of the stressed out parents trying to decide where to go on vacation. With money being tight, this is going to be this year’s big event. But they want to be sure that all members of the family from their teenage kids to their tag-along grandparents will have something that each enjoys.
The experience will have to be diverse. Perhaps some interactive fun and challenging outdoor activities for the kids, a health and wellness opportunity for your wife, a historical tour for the grandparents and simply a good locally based meal for you. Perhaps there are some things you can do together like shop, hear music or see a play.
Tri-Lakes “Incorporated” Stressed out and seeing all the options on the internet you come across this banner: “We can offer you a seamless, ease and convenient way to enjoy a diverse set of experiences. We are Tri-lakes Inc (or Adirondack Park Inc. if you want to think brand), a virtual destination that can provide you a host of Adirondack products and services in a simple, one touch manner.”
A pipe dream?
Perhaps, except the technology exists and they are doing this already in remote areas such as our national parks and metropolitan areas like the Tampa Bay region.
These communities and businesses have realized that if they are going to be competitive with everything from business development to tourism, they have a better chance for their voice to be heard above the busy clutter of the information age, if they work together.
Look at the difficulty we sometimes have with awareness for local events. Even at a community level there appears to be too many scattered and incomplete sources of information.
As business and communities strive to maintain their viability it is becoming a world of not necessarily the fittest that survives, but the most cooperative.
Region vs. Region It is no longer about local community vs. local community or local retail shop vs. local retail shop, but regional economic and tourism centers versus others who are going beyond increasingly irrelevant local, state and even national boundaries to create regional brand destinations.
As part of this virtual “Tri-lakes” or “Adirondack Park Inc,” you roll up your sleeves believing that all parts of the “community corporation” must function well to be successful. We as individual businesses must offer real value to it as if we were an employee of a company.
It is not your neighbor down the road or even in the Adirondack Park that is your competition, it is regional centers that are amassing resources of their individual communities that are effectively meeting the demanding, diverse, costly and time consuming market place.
Perhaps for our Tri-lakes or Adirondack Park Inc. an initial agenda might look like this:
- Creation of a virtual destination that centers on a coordinated marketing approach with seamless packages among a group of your fellow businesses who you might have not considered in the past. We are a group of small businesses that together can give the impression of a diverse range of activities that can rival any nature destination in the world. To do so we need inclusive packages that range from lodging choices and arts activities to shopping and outdoor activities. It has to be more than a listing of resources or referrals; it needs to work like a virtual destination.
- A more cohesive and unified manner to promote our events that includes using individual business and community web sites, data bases and promotions. A uniform Tri-lakes marketing center with a simple tool of a master calendar may help.
- A collective business development strategy that begins with working with our existing businesses on how we might help them. Let’s talk to them about their ideas to attract business and how we may partner with them.
- Creation of a “Local Business Giving Foundation” where collectively we harness the power of our business community to establish an endowment for local organizations.
- The Sears Parking Lot as a Cooperative Example: The meridian that runs up the middle of the Sears Parking lot offers the opportunity for a cooperative marketing venture. Kiosks can be placed there that lists current events. Other kiosks can depict sections of downtown that lists businesses with a one line description. If $2,000/month is required, 40 businesses signing up would cost $50/m for prime downtown advertising. This area could become a downtown mini-information center.
As a community, if we add all of us up together and market “co-creatively” by packaging each other then suddenly that art walk, health and wellness tour combined with a Pendragon play, an outdoor guided adventure, an Adirondack dinner with music, can sound appealing to a whole family. It may help us with customers who are looking to make sure that if they spend their hard earned dollars, everyone will have something to do from a teen-age boy, a Gen X parent and an empty nester.
Unlike my parents time when folks would come back to the Adirondacks every year, there is no such allegiance anymore to our Great Woods. Today’s visitors are looking to explore and seek diverse nature experiences – throughout the world - as better travel and the internet has brought mysterious and exciting remote places to our door.
We need to develop a killer instinct as a business and a community. The game is afoot, the economy a challenging changeling. We need to start approaching some of these challenges and opportunities together with a new sense of partnerships.
If you are interested in learning more or have your own ideas, let me know at the Adk Biz Today blog or join the local marketing group that meets once a month with the next meeting scheduled for March 22nd, 6PM @ the ADE.
Ernest is an award winning national and state certified business and community professional for 25 yrs. and an Adirondack entrepreneur. E-mail MountainCommunityVisions @ live.com
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