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Community Marketing Assistance Store?

September 9, 2013 - Ernest Hohmeyer
Is there a way to help each other with marketing – as a community business?

Last week I attended a Franklin County Tourism Advisory Committee (TAC) meeting held at the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino. The group is made up of representatives of tourism organizations and businesses throughout Franklin County as appointed by the legislature. The TAC is charged with making recommendations to the County on its tourism program and to facilitate the Occupancy Tax awaiting for approval on the state level.

Trends

There were several presentations made by Ad Workshop and the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism. Members were also asked to identify 3 trends they see in the tourism industry. Trends identified included:

• Importance of selling an “experience” • Travelers are more informed today • Need for customers to be connected while on vacation • Increased use of mobile devices in travel decisions • Need for adaptive web sites for various mobile internet devices from phones to tablets • Customers are value conscious but expect more • Internet portals are increasingly used for travel research • Customer demographics can change dramatically with the seasons (families in the summer and empty-nesters in the fall for example). • Planning for trips becoming shorter • Travelers use their mobile devices to find local venues once they are here

We are Small

Upon hearing all of these trends, discussion then centered on how “Mom & Pops,” the County’s tourism backbone, could keep up with all of these changes. Adaptive sites, blogging, tweeting, packaging, on-line reservations, PR, were just a few mentioned.

How do small businesses handle all of this? This is not just a tourism industry question but one for virtually all of us. In addition there are the constant social media updates. It is not just the writing of it all; we need to be tech gurus to understand different interfaces and platforms.

We’ll Learn It

It got me thinking later that night, that it is not just a question of not knowing how to play with these new marketing rules, it also a question of having the time.

As small businesses owners, we have to be good at many things in running our business to survive. If we don’t know something and we feel it is important to our livelihood, we learn it. We may not be the best at it, but sometimes we know we have no choice.

So many of have taken the time to learn as much as we can about this new marketing beast that seems to get bigger each day.

We try to keep up.

But more and more I am hearing it is becoming too much. Part of the challenge it seems today is to focus your efforts. Understanding your customer, what they like and the experiences they are looking for has never been more important. You need to cull all of this information to key words: it is as if understanding your different customers is like working at the UN: they all seem to speak a various languages with different agendas, needs and likes.

It is the new rage about how technology is making marketing more personal.

Community Marketing Co-op?

How are we going to do all of this? How about a community marketing center?

Hey, the community is rich in one big resource – its people.

We all know the challenge to running a business or organization is to admit what you are good at and what you are not. Today’s marketing world is so complex that each of us probably are good at some part of it but are shaky (or don’t like) others.

Could we form a community marketing team to help each other?

An Idea

For example, let’s list some of today’s marketing items: • Blogs • Artwork and pictures • Press releases • Search words, key words • Customer research • On-line transactions • Market and business planning • Etc.

I hear this all of the time at these community meetings: “I am so overwhelmed, but I can’t afford to hire a full-time person.” Or, “I know this stuff but I just can’t get to it!”

The idea could be to help people learn how to do some of these things themselves or to provide potentially on-going assistance.

Resources

Perhaps this “community marketing center” is no more than a web site or landing page at our local chambers that lists all of the businesses who are doing parts of these marketing tasks.

If that is not sufficient perhaps a community marketing co-op could be formed – an actual business.

For example, interested artists who would be interested in providing art work or pictures. Other existing professionals in the community who may have an interest in writing content, yet others still who like to do research or planning. Besides existing professionals, these could also be retired business people or those that want to work at home.

Pay-back

In return, this network gives back expertise to each other. For example the artist good at art work but who does not like to write blogs. Or, someone who likes to design but is not good at research.

We seemed overwhelmed with these daily marketing tasks and maintenance. Sometimes we know this stuff but can’t keep up and in other areas we need to learn.

Either way, there appears to be a need to help our small businesses with these growing marketing tasks.

Perhaps we need to develop a marketing plan to help each other.

 
 

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