Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Working with people you like

We hear it time and again, business is all about relationships. People work with people they like. This could not be more true in our business. As important as it is for our clients to know that we are marketing savvy, and will spend their advertising dollars wisely, it is also very important that they genuinely like us -- that our personalities complement each other.

It is also much easier (and rewarding) to do great work for clients or customers that you really like. People who treat their staff and their customers with respect. People who treat you with respect. Honest, hard-working people.

I am happy to say that I work with lots of those types of people. I brag about my clients all the time, because I believe in what they do, I know they really care about doing the best job that they can, and I know that they are honest, good people. That being said, I must take this opportunity to brag about Homewood Suites by Hilton at Newburgh's Stewart Airport . I have never seen a hotel that is more devoted to customer service and to making everyone feel so welcome and comfortable. They strive every day to out-do themselves. Their recent Quality Assurance rating of 97.3 from Hilton is what has inspired me to write this blog.

There are people and companies out there who are in it just for the money. Unfortunately, it is those types of companies that make us wary in business dealings. So, when we do find businesses that are exceptional in their offerings and in their character, we should take the time to tell others and to brag about them.

People DO like working with people they like. And they also are more likely to work with someone if they come through a referral.

So, take some time today, and brag about someone you enjoy working with. Someone who is honest, hard-working, and you know will do a great job. Hopefully, they will return the favor some day.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Diversity in Advertising

Recently an article in the Times Herald Record noted how local business owners in Ulster County were calling for a change in direction in how their county's tourism dollars were being spent. Cannot say I blame them in asking for diversity – funneling all your funds into one media is rarely a good idea.

Tourism Marketing, like just about every other industry, requires an integrated approach. Travelers and tourism consumers aggregate their information from multiple channels – both online and offline. And though our Hudson Valley depends heavily on revenue generated by out-of-towners, we can't forget our local audiences, whose dollars help drive and support the $46 billion spent state-wide in 2009, the $13 billion generated in state and local taxes, or the 660,000 direct industry jobs sustained by visitors to the state.

Given that our local counties are working within budgets of varying sizes, some Hudson Valley tourism offices may be in a better position than others to implement all the tactics mentioned below. But with judicious planning, a strong in-house team, and the support of an experienced agency resource, most should be able to plan and put into practice an integrated program.

How to build a solid Tourism Marketing Toolbox
  • Leverage Public Relations for cost efficiency.
- amplify your print, radio, TV, and internet presence
  • Integrate Social Media.
  • Use the web wisely.
– advertise online, selectively
– have great content on your site
– make it easy for people to find the information they need, plan a trip, take advantage of a package, and share about their experiences
  • Package seasonal attractions and build partnerships to maximize promotional opportunities.
  • Utilize FAM tours to drive group and international tour business, and publicity.
  • Integrate local, regional, and national high impact media. You can't be everywhere, so make where you are count.
  • If you can, participate in key trade shows. Partner up to save money.
  • Do not be afraid to think outside the box.
If you would like to hear more about our ideas for marketing your tourism venue or destination, give us a call! We would be happy to help. 845-695-1880

Grant Opportunities for Ag Marketing

Last week, BBGG coordinated an Information Meeting to facilitate an opportunity for Valley farmers and agricultural producers to learn more about the funding opportunities available through the USDA Value-Added Grant (VAG) program. We all gathered at the offices of Dutchess County  Tourism, generously offered for use by Mary Kay Vrba, Director.

The USDA VAG program provides funding for the "soft" costs associated with marketing agricultural products through Planning and Working Capital Grants.

Planning Grants can be used to develop business operating plans, develop marketing plans, and obtain legal advice and assistance related to the proposed venture.

Working Capital Grants can be used to implement a marketing program, pay for advertising, web site design, packaging design, or pay operating costs (such as salaries, supplies and supplemental raw product costs) of the value-added enterprise.

Gary Pereira of Rural Development, USDA, presented on the requirements of the program and the basics of the application process to those attending.

In a nut shell, these USDA grants are appropriate for:
- bringing new products to market, or
- bringing existing products to a new market

Gary explained that agricultural products qualify as value-added if they:
- have experienced a change in physical state – such as dicing tomatoes, processing milk into cheese or grapes into wine.
- are produced in a way that enhances their value – organic production, grass-fed beef, eggs and meat from free-range chickens.
- are locally-produced or raised and marketed within 400 miles.

Although held in Dutchess, farmers at the meeting came from Orange, Columbia, Ulster, and Dutchess Counties. Interest was high, and Gary emphasized the importance of starting early on the application process. It will take time, he counseled, and he advised on beginning the process as soon as possible. FarmNet, the Cornell Cooperative Extension, and the Hudson Valley Agribusiness Development Corporation all have programs and services in place to assist producers in putting together the business plans and feasibility studies necessary to pursue a Working Capital Grant.

For our part, we'll continue to connect farmers and producers with the USDA and other services that can help them, and facilitate as many Hudson  Valley farmers as possible to pursue these grants. We can assist in writing the narrative piece of the application.

Please feel free to contact me, Deborah Garry, at 695-1880, or Gary Pereira directly at (315)-736-3316, x129