Hamburg Marketing Committee Meeting
Minutes taken by Nigel Gordijk.
December 5, 2012. 10:15 a.m. Meeting held at The Waterlot.
- Roger Cowie (JohnBear Chevrolet Pontiac Buick and GMC Trucks Ltd)
- Nick Cressman (Puddicombe House)
- Theresa Dietrich (Sun Life Financial)
- Bill Fleming (Sobeys)
- Karolyn Fournier (Colour Paradise)
- Cheryl Gordijk (New Hamburg Board of Trade staff
- Nigel Gordijk (Common Sense Design; marketing
director of the New Hamburg Board of Trade)
- Dave Heyer (Heritage Pet & Garden)
- Kathie Jordan (Kathie Jordan Design)
- Bill MacKay (MacKay Emergency Management
Consulting Inc.; Stonecroft resident)
- John Ross (Stonecroft resident)
- Chris Spotswood (ABsolute Fitness & Personal
- Steve Wagler (Josslin Insurance; vice-president
of the New Hamburg Board of Trade)
- Who’s our target market?
- Why do they shop here?
- What are their interests, attitudes and
- How do we reach the target market?
- Why do locals choose to shop out of town?
For example, they may lack knowledge about what’s here, local retailers might
have higher prices than box stores, and they might not be aware of how local
businesses contribute to the community. The last item is probably more poignant
at this time of year, because if our businesses don’t thrive we can’t afford to
- What should the Board of Trade be doing on your
behalf to improve commerce in New Hamburg?
- How do we maintain commercial momentum
throughout the year, not just during major events?
- How do we address the needs of service providers,
and not just retailers?
People often choose to shop at chain stores because they
know what to expect from them; familiarity guides expectation.
Bill Fleming: While
small stores might not be able to compete based on price, they can lead with
customer service. The New Hamburg Sobeys is in competition with its larger
sister store at The Boardwalk, but Bill and his staff strive to build
relationships with their own customers. That personal relationship makes a
difference, as it allows the local store to anticipate its regular customers’
New Hamburg Sobeys also strives to be different from its
out-of-town competitors by stocking locally-sourced products, such as those
from Pfennings’ Organic Farm.
Bill MacKay: Reviewing the New
Hamburg Facebook page, Bill observed that there are pictures of buildings,
but not people. This emphasizes the place, but not its residents. (This
Facebook page is generated via content from Wikipedia, and was not created by
the Board of Trade.) Bill advocates being more focussed with out social media
activities because it propagates and allows us to spread “word of mouth” in an
Karolyn Fournier: We need to ensure that people have proper training in how to use social media
effectively and appropriately. Posts on Facebook and Twitter represent
businesses, and not necessarily the person who is typing the words. Also, too
much information can become “white noise”. Messages need to be timely and
Theresa Dietrich: People buy from people. We need to build connections outside of the business
community, and demonstrate the advantages of living in a small town. A website
about New Hamburg shouldn’t be a Board of Trade-branded site; that puts people
off. At the moment, all we do at the Board of Trade is to meet each other. We
need to meet our neighbours downtown in a friendly environment, rather than in
just a business one. It’s easier to do business with friends than with
strangers. What about holding a fun local event? How do we get the message out?
Roger Cowie: We
should appeal to peoples’ emotions. We need to continue to support each others’
Ladies’ Night was a successful and well-attended event,
which had good publicity and promotion. Spring Fling was less successful,
perhaps because its publicity was left too late. Some people only became aware
of it a couple of days beforehand.
Rather than events that last for a few hours, what about
longer ones, like the three-day event in Uptown Waterloo? Perhaps we could have
a “passport” that offers discounts and/or prizes the more often it’s used? That
might encourage people to get out and meet those who are running local
Is there a way of highlighting individual businesses and the
people who run them? This would draw attention to the personalities behind the
local businesses, and allow people to “meet” them; for example, a
businessperson’s profile in print or on a website.
Word of mouth recommendations are a major source of new and
continued business for many.
It was suggested that we use local realtors to help spread
the word about what’s available in New Hamburg, but this will only go so far.
Many people who move here – from say, Kitchener
or Toronto – will have used a
realtor who is close to their former location. At the moment, you need to be
here to learn more. We need to have more information available online.
Bill Fleming: Perhaps
change needs to be more fundamental than just marketing. The town of Cobourg, ON invested heavily in
beautification, and an area of it was marketed as “The Village”. (There might
have been a Trillium Foundation grant to assist with the renovations.)
Does New Hamburg also need some form of tagline that succinctly
sums up the town?
We should foster our image as a warm-hearted, friendly place
to visit, with a message on a sign towards the edge of town: “Thank you for
shopping in New Hamburg”.
Cheryl Gordijk: Part
of the problem is that there are limited services available locally at the
weekend and on Mondays, when many stores are shut. If someone needs to fill a
prescription or pick up other pharmaceutical-related items, there’s nowhere in
New Hamburg that is open on Sunday. This forces people to head to Kitchener,
where they can visit Shoppers Drug Mart. Big stores like this – including
Wal-Mart – offer pharmacy services, as well as stocking many food items and
gifts. If people need to leave town for one thing, they’re likely to shop at
other nearby stores at the same time. This means that we’re losing out across several
Is there a way to welcome new residents to town? There is a
“welcome wagon”, but it isn’t consistently run. Residential subdivision,
Stonecroft, gives all new homebuyers its own welcome basket, which contains
several free samples – from Oak Grove Cheese, for example – plus gift
certificates for several local merchants (Expressway Ford, ABsolute Fitness,
MeMe’s, etc). That’s a great introduction for many newcomers.
Closing comments from
around the table:
- The issue appears to be threefold – educate
local residents, brand New Hamburg as a place in which to do business, and
create excitement. (Nick Cressman)
- What are we trying to accomplish on an ongoing
basis? (Bill MacKay)
- Providing personal customer service should be
our point of difference. (Dave Heyer)
- We need to educate our staff on how best to
represent us. (Chris Spotswood)
Nigel Gordijk: From
this meeting, we’ll be establishing an ongoing marketing committee that will
discuss how best to market New Hamburg.
Although it is useful to meet face-to-face occasionally, most discussions will
be conducted via email or an online forum. Details will follow.
Some people were unable to attend Wednesday’s meeting, or
wanted to share more ideas before or after the event. These are shared below.
Rebranding of New Hamburg
for the Tourist Market Segment
- New Hamburg “The German Block”
This would be a very expensive endeavour as the long-term goal would be to
have signage in English and German. A financial grant would most likely need to
be provided in order to make this happen. This would give us a marketing niche
that would allow us to get on par with some of the smaller tourist towns,
especially with Stratford and St
Jacobs being so close.
- Historical Banner
Purchasing banners to hang on street lamps and help with the short-term sign
issue. A campaign like this should be a revenue generator long-term, by selling
business sponsorship. A while ago I did a model of this concept for the
executive and presented it, it didn’t go anywhere. I think the financial
estimates were year 1 profit of $2,200 and with the 5-year profit exceeding
$10,000 on an annual basis. The cycle would be on a 5-year basis as the banners
have a lifespan. This should help accomplish 2 things: (a) Help with funds to
market downtown New Hamburg; (b) Also increase awareness.
- Facebook Campaign
The current Facebook campaign at Puddicombe House is costing us $.62 per
click from most of our online advertising; this is considered good value. We
are able to market to a younger audience and target an audience in Wilmot
Township to support the “Buy Local” aspect. The only problem is creating high-quality content on a regular basis
and having somebody act as a voice that has a strong understanding of social
- Co-Branded Marketing
Advertising the New Hamburg Brand collectively as a marketing co-op. We
currently participate in several marketing co-operatives that have buy-in
opportunities. Several newspapers already offer this but they lack the brand
building for New Hamburg at the current moment; i.e. having them go to a common
landing site, such as the Board of Trade sites.
Ideas for the New Hamburg brand
“New Hamburg: Waterloo
Region’s Trendiest Neighbourhood”
- Reason behind the wording: New Hamburg’s current locals
still connect with other locals. Including Waterloo Region allows us to be a
part of something bigger and allows former residents of Kitchener-Waterloo and Cambridge
a connection to our community.
- Trendy: we are not old-fashioned just because we are a small
- “Neighbourhood” allows people to take ownership and feel a part
One point I like to make about shopping locally is that
small town merchants CARE. We need every customer to be a satisfied and happy
one. Each customer matters. Word spreads!
Also, local merchants give back to the community by being
involved in service clubs, sponsoring community events, helping make our
community a better place to live.
Last year I wrote a letter to the [Independent’s] editor
after the wedding issue came out. It was written that young couples could save
money by buying their invitations online. I just could not let that one go. My
letter was not published but I was told if I want to we can advertise in the
next wedding issue.
Monday, January 30, 2012
Letter to the Editor:
Recently I read in the New Hamburg Independent that couples
can save money on their wedding invitations by buying them on the Internet.
That got me thinking... it really is possible to buy almost anything online.
Often the transaction turns out just fine. However at Ritz
Printing Inc., we have had opportunity to correct jobs for people when something
they ordered from the Internet was not right. (The small print on the sales
agreement states that the product may not be exactly as shown. Oh well.)
Many years ago an astute accountant gave us some advice.
“Price, service, quality: pick two because you can't give
That’s a statement worth considering. I really believe that
service is one area where our local merchants excel. We care. And we really
appreciate your business.
Being in business in a small community is a wonderful
experience as customers are friends and friends are customers. We are all in
this together. Local business people support sports groups, service clubs, and many
other efforts to make our community better. When you spend your dollars locally,
you are contributing to more than just a purchase. You are helping to keep our
local economy strong, to employ your neighbours and to make our community the
place you want it to be.
By the way, we are one of two local merchants who sell
wedding invitations, paper and envelopes and we are happy to work with you to
get exactly what you want. Just sayin’.
Monday, January 30, 2012
Good Morning Kathryn: Doug has sent me your “letter”.
Unfortunately we will not print this as a letter.
The majority of our editorial for the Bridal section is very
general. We welcome story ideas for all our specials and this one included. I
will put your letter in my file and contact you next year. I agree with you on the
personal touch, price and quality which is available in New Hamburg.
I also think the Board of Trade should have an advertising
campaign promoting “When you spend your dollars locally, you are contributing
to more than just a purchase. You are helping to keep our local economy strong,
to employ your neighbours and to make our community the place you want it to be.”
Thank you for your input.
Sharon Leis, Advertising Representative
New Hamburg Marketing Committee
Forming a Committee
As mentioned earlier, our goal is to form a marketing
committee that will oversee our ongoing activities. In the New Year, an email
request to join this committee will be sent to this meeting’s attendees, as
these are the locals who seem to be most engaged in this project.
Even though the New Hamburg Board of Trade will fund most – if
not all – of the future marketing activities from our marketing budget, it is
likely that at least some of the committee’s participants won’t actually be
members of the Board of Trade. However, we will be providing the direction for
While having face-to-face meetings can result in topics
being discussed spontaneously, some people might not have the time for a
regular get-together. Therefore, it might be preferable to carry out some
discussions online, either via email or an online forum/discussion group. This
will serve the dual purpose of forming a permanent record of everything that is
Our Message: What Should We Say, and How Do We
Get People to Listen?
More than one person at the meeting suggested “branding” the
town of New Hamburg, including
having a tagline that summarizes what we have to offer. Our working title for
this campaign – referred in emails to the Board of Trade’s general members –
used the phrase “Buy Local”. This was misunderstood as being a campaign to
endorse protectionism. Our aim is to encourage local residents to do more business in New Hamburg, and that’s all. The revised
working title of “Choose Local” is probably more in line with what we’re trying
However, the term “Choose Local” is asking for the consumer
to give us something; a better tagline would be one that tells people why they should choose local. For
example, to paraphrase Nick Cressman’s suggestion: “New Hamburg:
Welcome to Your Neighbourhood.” This is both friendly and non-commercial, so
has the advantage of not seeming like a purely business-focussed initiative.
Perhaps we should have an online survey that will enable
local residents and business owners to share their own suggestions. If so, this
could be open to both members and non-members of the Board of Trade. A
democratic approach might encourage more people to get involved.
Theresa Dietrich advised us not to brand our marketing
activities with the Board of Trade’s logo. We want this to appeal to the
general public, and not just fellow businesses.
At earlier Board of Trade executive meetings, we’ve
discussed the possibility of revamping our directory website: www.newhamburg.ca. If funds allow, then
this could still be a worthwhile pursuit, but it shouldn’t be regarded as a
quick fix. Also – as described in a written proposal for a new website – it
will require the involvement of several people who are willing to moderate and
manage the website, as it a more comprehensive site will be too much for one
person to oversee. The Stonecroft residents’ website, for example, is looked
after by a team of volunteer webmasters, who take it turns to look after its
day-to-day management. Each webmaster volunteers for a week at a time, then
hands over to the next person on the list. This system seems to work quite
efficiently, and is certainly worth emulating if we decide to go down this
Producing profiles of the people behind New Hamburg’s
businesses was suggested as a way to put a human face to them. As was mentioned
more than once, “People buy from people”. Where would these profiles be seen?
There are a few alternatives.
- The aforementioned revamped website would be a
good option because over time it would build up to become a comprehensive
collection of business owner profiles.
- The Board of Trade could sponsor a section of
the printed Stonecroft Shopping Guide every month. Part of this section – which
could be either the two or four centre pages, for example – would contain the
- A paid-for half page of the Baden Outlook.
- An advertisement in the New Hamburg Independent,
although the cost for this might be prohibitive.
The example below – from a sponsored section of a recent
edition of the Toronto Star – shows the warm, friendly style of writing and
photography we should be aiming for. The question-and-answer style of
presentation would allow for consistency throughout all of the profiles, if all
the subjects are asked the same questions.
The comments and suggestions above should be regarded as a
starting point only. Opening up the discussion should elicit some ideas and
suggestions that we might not be able to come up with on our own.
Theresa Dietrich suggested holding fun events downtown,
which would encourage locals to come and meet the business people of New
Hamburg. Again, this puts a human face to the folks who bring prosperity to our
town. A team to set up such events will require separate committees to organize
and manage them. This is definitely worth considering if it brings people to
the downtown core throughout the year.
Chris Spotswood has mentioned at executive meetings that people
often don’t realize how much our businesses give back to the community, with
generosity that is only possible for as long as local residents support us. Perhaps
we should think about a complimentary campaign that explains this. The
waterwheel has been cited as a recognizable local symbol. With this in mind, we
could have an advertisement with the headline or tagline, “What goes around,