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Now - More Than Ever?

September 3, 2013 - Ernest Hohmeyer
When things are going good we tend to ease off – sometimes on things we know we ought not to.

Hopefully for most of us, the cash register has been ringing and our businesses and community events have been busy.

Work or Run?

We are small organizations which mean we are not just owners or executives but workers for our ventures. We are in there with hands, feet, sweat and all of heart with what we are doing.

The old saying “I am the cook and the bottle washer” can’t be more true for many of us. We run the sales counter, do the books, are the marketing department and deal with all the regulations.

We get so busy working the business; we sometimes don’t have time to run it. We work today but don’t have time to think about how we are going to bring in customers in November.

Business Lazy?

A savvy entrepreneur in one of my business classes once said to me: “We work hard in the summer but get business lazy.” For a long time, I didn’t understand what he meant by that but I get it now. We are so exhausted working our business we don’t even want to think about marketing or planning when summer is over. However, we hear that little voice in our heads constantly reminding us that we may be the only one that can bring in customers tomorrow…

Sometimes I think it is easier to be working your business vs. running it. When customers are in your store, you have to react, just do it. But marketing or doing the books, well sometimes you have to will yourself. There is no one there but you saying “Come on...”

Adaptors

We are quite the adapters, us small businesses and organizations when you think about it. We definitely are adept at changing our routine at a moment’s notice and reacting to what just came into the door. Sometimes it is that quiet planning on those slow days we have trouble with…

And when things are going good, we don’t feel so bad about letting things slip. Thinking about marketing packages for the fall, or asking that extra question to our customers flying through the door about how they found out about us, seems a little easier to ignore. I always thought we should have a picture of our empty store front in the shoulder seasons in front of our cash register. This way it could remind us that seasonal cash flow is a real life reality to our Adirondack businesses. Something we like to forget or ignore, in the warm, dog days of summer.

An Opportunity?

And with the announcement of 2 major hotel projects in the Saranac Lake area for example, we may feel that warm and cozy feeling continue. There may be this feeling of letting these big projects lead the way in marketing our area and as a retail store, restaurant or smaller lodging business, ride the coat tails.

However, it may be now, more than ever, that all of us in the Tri-lakes region need to think about marketing together.

Packaging

Today’s customer is looking for varied experiences. It is all about the experience and a big part of how you explain that is through packages. Yes, major components of packages are rooms that these hotel projects will have, but important additional experiences are those things that the rest of us can provide: canoe trips through outfitters, seasonal culinary themes with area restaurants, themed specials in our retail stores, etc.

As much as it is hard to believe, major venues need the rest of the community and the region to help sell their wares. This might be hard for our small Mom and Pop businesses to understand, but you and what you sell are an important part of “packaging.”

The one common bond we all have is that we are not just selling only our independent businesses but perhaps just as important – is the experience of the entire region.

Now, perhaps more than ever we should take advantage of this momentum; meet with these potential developers as well as other key existing amenities and discuss how we can market and package together.

Tourism Council?

Perhaps the Tourism Council may be a place to start. This round-table is made up of tourism stakeholders throughout the area including local chambers, ROOST, Franklin County Tourism, local municipal officials and area businesses.

The possibility of joint marketing or packaging should not be restricted to Saranac Lake only. Doing that, would leave out important area amenities such as the Wild Center in Tupper Lake, the Paul Smiths VIC and many others.

Reacting vs. Planning

Part of my hang-up with all of this marketing is that we seem to be always reacting to ideas at the last moment. As businesses we are constantly being asked to support some event that is happening tomorrow. Perhaps some of it is our own fault, we are just so busy we ignore these things until we have to deal with it, but there just does not seem to be an overall marketing road map.

As a business, a community and a region can we take advantage of this momentum:

1. Know Each of Us? Understand key marketing targets of some of our major businesses, not just new projects but all major venues like ORDA, the Wild Center and others?

2. Tie-in with Marketing? How does this tie in to marketing strategies of Essex and Franklin County, the Adirondack region and I Love NY?

3. One Marketing Calendar? Is it possible to develop a marketing calendar with events, both large and small that extends out 18 – 24 months?

Making it Easier

If we could establish some of these things, it might make it easier to develop packages between all of our communities and businesses.

Getting this out in advance may allow us to take advantage of more of the marketing avenues available to us that we just don’t seem to get to in the heat of running our business.

Yes, much of today’s travel is last minute. However, coming up with marketing ideas and packages for our small businesses at the last minute, or the wild weekends of fall foliage or Winter Carnival may be too much to ask.

If we had a game plan now, we may be better prepared to take advantage before we get busy again.

Perhaps the Tourism Council could be the place to advance this opportunity.

 
 

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