A Welcome Change to New Hamburg's Marketing
Showing the people behind the town's commercial enterprises makes business more personal.
Prior to 2008, the New Hamburg Board of Trade had a fairly rudimentary website that did little more than tell people the organization existed. Clearly, it was time to start improving our communication and marketing for the digital age.
We redesigned the Board's website to give it a much more professional image that was suitable for a business organization. At the same time, we also created a second, new website: a local search engine that helps to promote Board members' companies. Along with posters and local press advertisements for recurring events - Canada Day duck race, Sidewalk Sale, and Santa parade, for example - we had the foundations of a year-round marketing campaign.
More recently, several members of the Board of Trade observed that we have the problem of many New Hamburg residents shopping out of town, to the detriment of the local economy. With this in mind, in December 2012, we hosted a marketing meeting that was attended by several local business owners. The agenda included:
- Who's our target market?
- Why do they shop here?
- How do we reach the target market?
- Why do locals choose to shop out of town?
- 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?
Early in the discussion, we realised that all of our promotional work was branded with the Board of Trade's logo, which made it seem as if our message was only business to business. The consumer was being left out of the conversation; or, at least, that was the perception.
Also, as one person pointed out, "People buy from people." In other words, customers prefer to do business with people they know and trust, rather than faceless enterprises.
The full minutes from that meeting can be found on the New Hamburg Board of Trade's website.
As a result of December's meeting, the Board of Trade decided to update its message to make it more relevant. The Board's executive members have formed the core of the marketing committee, discussing and determining strategy, plus making decisions on the most effective use of our budget. Any other members who wish to contribute are invited to contact Nigel Gordijk: firstname.lastname@example.org. We now use a more appropriate logo for much of our advertising, based around the idea that New Hamburg is a warm and welcoming place in which to do business. The New Hamburg search engine - which lists members' businesses, as well as local events, churches and not-for-profits - bears this new logo, and it also features more photos of people, rather than just attractive local landscapes. Building on the friendliness and local themes, the current tagline is "Your smile is just around the corner".
A new addition to the search engine is a section called "Faces of New Hamburg". This collection of profiles of local business people is an informal set of interviews that gives some insight into the person behind the business. This enables us to build on the idea referred to earlier: People buy from people. After all, it's these people who play a large part in making New Hamburg unique.
The regular, recurring advertising that used to bear the New Hamburg Board of Trade's logo will now be branded with the "You're Welcome" message instead. Campaigns are now more explicitly aimed at customers, so shouldn't confuse people into thinking that we're speaking to other businesses. Print advertising will be placed in programs and magazines associated with local events, such as the New Hamburg Live! festival of the arts. These will be seen by locals and visitors alike, thus helping to spread the message.
It's important that we continue to listen, too. New Hamburg is constantly growing, with new homes and subdivisions being built all the time. We devised a simple questionnaire to find out more about new arrivals in town.
Our message and methods will develop over time, but we now have a solid platform on which to build. We still need to explain to local residents the many advantages of shopping close to home. As we say in our advertising: "Shop where you live and support the businesses that support our community."