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Is it time to re-think Commuity Marketing?

November 11, 2010 - Ernest Hohmeyer

Perspectives From An Adirondack Entrepreneur: Is it Time For the Tri-Lakes Business Community to Have a Cup of Coffee Together on Business Development and Marketing?

This article is not about creating another organization and it is not about slamming any existing community organization or governmental body, however it is about that while the Adirondacks are a unique place to do business, the Tri-lakes to me are a towering example of this. Here’s the dilemma: the visitor generally, when want to come the area search wider terms like Adirondack or lodging rather than a specific town. Generalized area marketing needs to be supported to get them to come “here” rather than another tourist region. BUT each town has its own personality and offerings and it is important for each one to showcase their individual attributes and specific events. So how does one small business support the regional efforts and all the individual town Chambers etc with advertising fees, membership dues, internet listing and on and on.

1. We all know that the Tri-lakes are a major sales tax driver for two counties, yet being straddled between them and numerous local government entities we feel divided and often conquered. Is there any benefit to see if there are priorities we share in common and let our issues be heard with a unified voice?

2. Currently, when you are a Tri-lakes business that serves both local and visitor markets there are a host of business marketing organizations you believe you should partner with. These include the Essex and Franklin County Visitors Bureaus, the Adirondack Regional Tourism Council, the Plattsburgh, Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake Chambers of Commerce. All of these organizations are vitally important to our business. In today’s challenging economic times with tightening belts that are threatening to strangle our businesses as well as these organizations, are there new ways to work together? Is there any validity to create a more unified Tri-lakes message while at the same time insuring that the activities and uniqueness of our communities are represented? For example: A. To create a more seamless visitor marketing strategy in the Tri-lakes: ie. membership to the Saranac Lake Chamber does not eliminate the fees on the Essex County promotional racks. Furthermore, each entity has a wealth of marketing materials and programs each with an associated fee. With the emphasis on on-line as well as print marketing material, the number and cost of these publications are escalating into the thousands of dollars. A small business may now have to choose what to be left out of. B. Are there simple measures we can consider to help promote our local events? Recently, we helped to put on a community event and just in the media that covers the Tri-lakes, we counted over a dozen community calendars. Is it possible for the local marketing organizations to create one local event promotional format that integrates local events that lessens the burdens of our limited business resources? C. Is it possible for each of these organizations to get together to assess their strength – and their weaknesses and discuss further collaborations. In this economic recession, many businesses have been forced to rethink their future realizing they need to pick priorities and create a focus. We cannot do things like we used to. Perhaps the days of the individual organizations being involved in diverse activities such as visitor marketing, community event promotion and business services are no longer doable with declining financial support. Again for example, the 2 county organizations appear to be the best equipped to handle visitor marketing while the individual Chambers are in key positions to promote individual community activities.

Yes, I know that there exists a level of cooperation between these organizations already but with the emphasis increasing on internet marketing, many businesses are challenged financially to justify escalating costs to be a part of these marketing programs while at the same time there appears to be lapses in other areas such as event coordination and businesses services. The more sophisticated technologies and internet capabilities has created a Pandora’s box for small business – each business now has new expenses related to their own websites, Google search engines and the myriad of other possible paid sites that one needs analyze. In addition, traditional media such as newspapers have added online options that increase costs. Taken in total, businesses have to create different priorities for their marketing dollars.

The Tri-Lakes IS a unique region but we should no longer be in competition with each other. We are now in competition with any place on the globe that calls tourism their home. The savvy traveler can be going in any direction these days, even once they jump in their car. We want them to consider our region rather than another first, then decide what community to stay in even though they may play in all of them. The Tri-Lakes as a region can offer an incredible diverse experience all within minutes of each other – ranging from paddling on the Raquette River and visiting the Wild Center to cross-country skiing on Dewey Mt and visiting artisan shops to the thrill of Olympic venues. The question is can we benefit from promoting the Tri-lakes as a destination while promoting the uniqueness of each community and can we do so in a way that lessens the burden on each individual business?

 
 

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