If there was one message Part I of the Digital Marketing Analysis for Eads should have conveyed to readers, it is that Eads has a lot of great things going for it; however, we haven’t figured out just how to tell anyone outside of Kiowa County what those things are, let alone how to share them with visitors and possible future citizens who have never heard of Eads.
We have got to do a better job telling our story, letting people know how truly wonderful we are, using digital marketing tools to open Eads and surrounding areas to the world. It’s like this: we don’t realize how cool we are, and, if we did realize it, we really don’t know how to say it.
If you are wondering what in the Sam Hill I’m talking about, make sure you read Part I in the April 17th edition of the Independent where we describe the ‘Eight Great Things About Eads,’ as described by the marketing folks at Downtown Colorado, Inc. (DCI). We also listed the “Six to Fix” suggestions made by DCI.
Overall, DCI has analyzed Eads, likes what they see but realizes that we don’t do a very good job tooting our own horn, let alone playing those horns in concert with one another.
After evaluating Eads and offering up some easy and practical solutions for getting the town on the Colorado map, the DCI marketing people went a little deeper into the weeds to describe Current Conditions for Digital Marketing and Top Ideas for Action Steps. The following is the rest of the story as suggested by the marketing experts who want to see Eads put itself on the map. These are ideas, some small and others not so small, that can begin to be implemented immediately:
Consider locals and entrepreneurs as your primary audience.
If your community is just beginning to develop tourism based businesses and you want to appeal to other groups at the same time that you’re putting out the welcome mat for tourists, consider the following four groups: locals (meaning people in this general region), entrepreneurs, employers, and visitors (longer distance) already coming here for other purposes, like visiting family or working at a temporary job.
Control your message.
The Town of Eads and the local businesses have very little social media presence, and social media is the network for reaching people in this age. Consider establishing a community brand that can translate to messaging from business owners and community members to share through multiple sites. Develop your own #hashtag that everyone uses on their posts.
Build on your fabulous stories.
Eads has found success in the past in telling stories of the history in storefront displays. Consider creative ways to tell your stories which are both fun and inspirational. Capture stories on video, in art projects, in articles, etc. and have them in town, online, and share, share, share.
Small Business Opportunities Abound.
In order to be strategic in how you build and implement your regional digital marketing efforts, enlist small businesses to work as partners in marketing the unique features your town has to offer with an eye toward appealing to entrepreneurs. Bird watching, theater events, restaurant development, and event options all present opportunities for entrepreneurs hoping to escape the rat race and start their own business.
Share the story of “Life in Eads”.
The quality of life and affordability of this community and the region are very marketable to small business owners. Making the message a personal story of a great place to live, raise kids, and find a live-work balance will strengthen your appeal to bring people to town. This can be a strong draw for new community members or entrepreneurs to come to town. Include this information, along with itineraries, in hotel rooms and on hotel websites.
Use existing material.
Link into business support groups, like the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) or Startup Colorado. Establish a local initiative for businesses to input and update annually information in/on Mapquest, Google Maps for Business, etc.
Build stronger local partners.
Look at these action plans as a first step toward strategic action where the partners come together to reshape your image. Start by sharing ideas and this action plan with the community, school kids, and existing business and let them know that there are partners hoping to build a stronger Eads. Create a coffee and conversation between the Town and local businesses and property owners. Establish communications for commercial property owners to help them understand that chronically vacant properties—like houses, for example--or properties that are used for something other than a commercial enterprise—like the buildings on Maine Street—can suffocate the whole community.
Create a one stop approach.
Establish the place to go to find out about Eads as a business, as a local, and as a tourist. You are small enough that you can keep this to one site and use evergreen material that won’t become dated or need refreshing all of the time. Consider means for sharing existing resources such as photography, video, and well written messaging about Eads from the private sector. Consider re-allocating time currently used on duplicative efforts towards building a stronger strategy around Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Make it easy for visitors to envision their trip.
The community has great ideas for how to spend a day in Eads. Share cross-promotional itineraries highlighting what to do in Eads for different length visits. Highlight what you can do along the way and multiple businesses that might complement one another. Consider the idea that, for every hour someone has to drive, they need 4 things to choose from (e.g. two hours means eight activities).
Consider the following ideas:
o Visit Sand Creek (2 hour)
o Kiowa Creek Natural Area interpretive barn with stocked pond (restroom, handicap dock, picnic)
o Golf course (9 holes challenging)
o Theatre at night (Fri-Sat-Sun)
o Ice Cream Shop
o Skeet Shooting Range
o Fair Grounds (once a month, riding club, cutting, demolition derby), Horse Arena
o Lake recreation (load up kayak or speed boat and be on water in 20 minutes)
Establish goals and tracking methods.
It is important to establish Eads’ number-one target market, probably locals and entrepreneurs, and how to gauge success. Don’t be afraid to dream big but set small-scale benchmarks that are reasonable and measurable. Consider an inventory of opportunities that include vacant storefronts, partnerships sought by existing business or non-profit groups, and general community needs.
Overall, the DCI Digital Marketing grant has analyzed Eads in a remarkably accurate way. Eads is that athlete with natural ability who is currently just not motivated to take that natural ability and develop and condition skills in order to perform at a high and successful level. All it takes for an athlete to improve is get out there and begin.
Shouldn’t Eads do the same?