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Local vs. Regional Marketing
December 11, 2012 - Ernest Hohmeyer
Just by me pondering this issue in these terms indicates that I may still be driving by the speed of snail mail and being corrected by typewriter whiteout.
There really is no such thing as local versus regional marketing anymore. It is not the way it works in today’s world of borderless information.
We may need to stop thinking this way.
It’s hard to do when you are thinking about your own business or a community official thinking about your village.
But it is not about me or you – it is about presenting a “want” that our visitors will “desire.”
Do WE Need To Change?
We may need to first change our thinking:
• It is not about one community versus the other, it is about creating the capacity to act like a regional destination • It is not just about marketing; it is also about developing more amenities. • It is no longer local versus regional, it is about linking and networking • It is not mine versus yours; it’s about together offering a package.
Forget the Park?
We can all pine about the need for an Adirondack Park tourism entity. Perhaps someday it will come along.
But for now, there is no true Park and there has never been one.
Perhaps we should stop wasting our breath on waiting for that day because we may run out of our ability to sustain our community breath.
Community’s vs. Destinations
And while we can pontificate about the glories of our communities just like me as a business person can shout about my products over yours, our businesses and communities are simply too small to be considered a stand-alone destination.
Yes, even Lake Placid needs our help when it comes to their major events like the horse show, Ironman and in fact one of their key amenities, Whiteface Mountain is not even in the Town of North Elba.
What is perhaps more difficult to understand, is the effort and resources it takes to be “on top.”
One tourism business for example, depending on their size and the amenities they offer, can spend anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000 on their “marketing presence.” This can include:
• Maintaining and updating your website • Providing fresh content, literally daily • Search engine optimization • Social media updates • Website hosting • Promotional campaigns • Visitor or guest services • Online reservations • Public relations
If you are a small community trying to:
• Bring events into your community • Conduct those events • Market your community • Answer the telephone • Respond to e-mails • Conduct public relations
Oh, have we mentioned “marketing” your community? What about going after targeted groups: • Paddlers • Cross-country skiers • Snowmobilers • Art enthusiasts • Hikers • Bikers
You get the idea. This can no longer be a “one-size-fits-all” message. These need to be targeted campaigns that speak their language.
We need to “connect” our community efforts with county and regional efforts.
There is much afoot already with ROOST in Saranac Lake and Franklin County debating an occupancy tax. Further, the counties already work with the Adirondack Regional Tourism Council and I Love NY.
However, we need to connect our local efforts not necessarily by community lines but as destinations.
In Franklin County, one way for our communities to work together is to create a Franklin County Tourism Council made up of our individual communities.
And then wouldn’t it be great, if each County Tourism Council would be a member of an Adirondack Park Tourism Council? And that the multiple tourism regions that currently cover the Park are a member?
Okay, dreaming again.
Local promotion could be done with local or regional tourism councils that would “connect” with the County.
From local efforts to county partnerships to Park initiatives BUT – thinking in terms not of political boundaries but as visitor destinations – or in our case – community clusters.
How Can We Do This All?
We can’t by ourselves and even if we work together we need to focus.
Today, it’s all about “personalized mass marketing” or developing content for a very specific audience. A cross-country skiing campaign for example may be made up of:
• specific messages about the type of cross-country skiing we offer • special packages or “hot deals” with hotels, retail and restaurants • targeted and personalized advertising that may utilize Facebook “cross-country likes,” • industry publications • saturating targeted geographic areas with a combination of media
This is no different than in regional versus local marketing. To be successful, today’s regional campaigns need to be very specific in their messages. In order to appeal to the cross-country skier, these County or regional websites need to “link” to our communities and create a “trail” of other activities that cross-country skiers “like.”
In other words, they also need to package to our lodging, retail, the arts and restaurants. How they “package” our activities in a simple and coordinated way may put our area on top of the many other cross-country skiing areas they can choose from.
By ourselves, our individual businesses and communities will have a difficult time “packaging” these activities. Together, we are a regional destination.
They also want choices. Not just one motel or restaurant or cross-country ski course. Can you imagine if we pooled all of our cross-country ski areas in the Tri-lakes together – and offered a package – with our lodging, restaurants and retail?!
To do so, we need to pool our marketing resources
And today’s marketing is becoming expensive. Essex County as reported this week in the ADE, is seeking to raise their occupancy tax from 3% to 5%. They already take in over $1 million. If this comes to pass, this will put their tourism marketing fund well over $2 million.
The Need for Amenities
There is still one missing critical component: amenities.
You cannot market what you do not have. It is not just about marketing, is also about amenities.
We can talk all that we want over promotional dollars but they will mean nothing if we cannot grow this fund. We need more amenities.
A Next Step?
What might be some things we can do together to create a regional destination of our individual communities?
• Hold a Tri-lakes Tourism Forum that includes Wilmington. Perhaps the Saranac Lake Area Tourism Council can host it. • Create one tourism website for the region • Develop regional events that connect our communities
Work Together on Events?
We may not be able to create a cohesive regional destination overnight. The Saranac Lake area is having a difficult enough time putting the pieces together to make it financially viable for ROOST to capitalize the “R.” Perhaps it would be too much to ask them to run before they can walk across the county line and work with Tupper Lake.
Perhaps though, if ROOST is seen as a viable marketing partner, the Tri-lakes can work together on a contractual basis for very specific marketing projects. For example on a Tri-lakes basis, supporting existing regional events like Tinman or new ones like an Adirondack Beer Festival, a Tri-lakes Cross-Country Tournament or bike race.
Perhaps we can start by a simple invite through the Tourism Council and see if there are ways to work together.
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