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The Maze of Local Marketing: A Regional Round-table
October 17, 2011 - Ernest Hohmeyer
The other day I was trying to get serious about a marketing strategy for 2012.
My kids interceded though with their annual request to visit the Tucker Farm Corn Maze.
Lesson learned: Never attempt to do this while you are trying to determine the maze of marketing.
Do you ever find yourself doing one thing but you are really somewhere else? Here I was going through this incredible corn maze on a beautiful day but with each dead-end I kept being reminded of my marketing strategy. I was trying to find that proverbial “mailbox” that had the right message to send to my target customer.
I realized I needed a road map on who's doing what on local and regional marketing.
Where do You Start?
There are so many local and regional marketing resources out there, yet no central place to go to.
I am part of a community marketing group that sometimes I think was formed just to understand other local marketing groups. We have been meeting now for almost 2 years. By design it is a very informal group that ebbs and flows with the marketing ideas we come up with. There are no minutes and not a lot of time wasted on creating agendas and resolutions. We concentrate instead on 2-3 marketing ideas with a focus on getting them done. We are just a group of business and community advocates that recognizes with declining local, county and state funds being appropriated for marketing, we need to work together to leverage our own scarce marketing dollars.
The other day, as we were attempting to establish a proactive marketing agenda for 2012, we realized we did not have a good grasp as to what other marketing organizations were doing. What are their plans for 2012? Is there a possibility that we could leverage our marketing efforts with theirs? Could these experts perhaps be of assistance in suggesting on how we might go about a marketing strategy for 2012? Is there a way that we could collectively bring together some of these marketing organizations, who are struggling with their own budgets and work together as a region?
Further, the world of online and social media marketing is changing so rapidly that we wanted to have a handle on what are the latest trends on how to reach your target customer.
Besides a proliferation of local marketing groups, there is a rapidly expanding maze of marketing opportunities. So much more in fact, that sometimes we get caught up in trying to get the a message in every mailbox without realizing we only need to find the right path to those customers that are interested in our product.
Who do We Talk To?
We realized we needed to understand the local marketing map. As we attempted to determine who we should talk to we came up with more questions than answers:
• The Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake and Lake Placid downtown merchants groups? Are they even active? What is their marketing program for 2012?
• Each community in the Tri-Lakes has numerous business associations. These range from lodging groups to business referral organizations.
• Each of our 4 communities in the Tri-Lakes has their own chamber of commerce of one form or another.
• Is the Tri-Lakes region a common boundary of marketing interest based on its small business and tourism emphasis? If so, we need to consider how we are split among municipal lines - each with their own marketing programs.
• The local marketing maze does not stop there as the two counties are part of the Adirondack Regional Tourism Council, an eight county effort.
• However, if we want to build an Adirondack Park brand as part of our message, we would also need to talk to the Leather Stocking and the 1,000 Islands regions, all of which cover part of the Park.
• And then there are a host of quasi-public and private organizations such as ANCA, the Plattsburgh Chamber and others who are also involved in marketing our area.
• The state is also involved with programs such as I love New York.
• Finally, something that is important to all of us, there is the world of business development marketing which range from efforts such as the Saranac Lake Village Community Development Office, the county IDA’s, ARISE, AEDC and Empire State Development to name a few.
Done by Design?
We can look at all of this as a maze - or as an opportunity.
If one were negative, we could say that these multitudes of marketing organizations are symbolic of the fact that an Adirondack “Park” does not exist. We have a regulatory boundary but no Park-wide effort that promotes our Great Woods or showcases the diverse business resources we have in our backyard. Local communities have been largely on their own to get the word out about what they have for both tourists and residents alike.
Perhaps, some would say, that this was the plan all along. Divide and conquer our small communities and instead of an Adirondack Park effort, encourage them to create a multitude of local and under-resourced efforts that creates the environment of competing against each other.
If the glass is half-full, one could say that we have a unique opportunity to take advantage of these multitudes of resources to help us with our marketing plans. We are also rich in business expertise and in the knowledge of our residents and second home owners which can provide a tremendous resource to our efforts.
A Regional Marketing Round-table
As a first step, we thought it would be a good idea to get as many of these local marketing groups together as we could. On Wednesday, October 19 at 6:00PM, we will hold an informal Regional Marketing Round-table.
Whether you are a tourism business, a professional organization or a community official, how to figure out today's marketing maze is important to all of us whether your customer is a tourist or a resident.
We are inviting all of you to attend. In addition to getting a handle on understanding what these groups are doing, there will also be a special panel discussion led by one of our own local businesses, Ad Workshop, on the latest trends and key marketing strategies you can consider in 2012 whether you are a business or a community group.
The days of relying on the world outside the region are past us. We can also be our own best customers for our own communities. There are such incredible opportunities to reach your target audience – no matter where or who they are. They are no longer regulated to region but can reach the expanse of the globe – with minimal expense. Our biggest obstacle may our own parochialism and a fear that others will detect we do not know all the marketing answers. No one can and the only thing certain in these uncertain times is that we are rich in marketing resources, perhaps unlike any other rural region in the world.
Perhaps by understanding what’s out there and how we can take advantage of it, is the first step in finding the appropriate marketing mailbox which becomes a recognized name for your business and our communities.
We hope you will join us on October 19th. For further info or to register - its free - e-mail me @ MountainCommunityVisions@live.com
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