“Marketing Hawke’s Bay” means many things to many people. And therein lies one of the key challenges in selling our region as a place to visit, live or invest.
Our various Councils in Hawke’s Bay spend in the neighborhood of $3-5 million marketing the region, its attractions and events. At the Regional Council, $1.2 million is centered in Venture Hawke’s Bay (VHB), the region’s tourism and economic development agency. At the Hastings Council, nearly $500,000 is spent on tourism, branding, and event support, in addition to monies spent marketing facilities like Splash Planet, the Opera House, Hastings City Art Gallery and the Holiday Park. Similar amounts would apply to the Napier Council.
And in the case of Hastings and Napier, additional amounts are spent on “economic development” activities … essentially marketing the Bay to potential relocating businesses, trade partners and investors outside the region.
This represents the public investment in marketing the Bay. It supplements the private sector marketing monies spent by individual businesses, event and attraction promoters.
“Marketing” has a negative connotation to many people. It conjures up “selling stuff” to unwitting customers who don’t really need the products or services on offer, and are being “manipulated” to buy … maybe even through misleading promotions and advertising.
So when we hear talk about “marketing Hawke’s Bay,” some might be put off. And when we realise that our local Councils spend a significant amount of ratepayer dollars on such marketing, some might be appalled.
Why should ratepayer funds be used at all to aid the marketing of private profit-making enterprises?
Listen to Mayor Yule: “Hawke’s Bay needs to be marketed, marketed and marketed. Our ratepayers may be worried about the money involved in marketing the region. But we have little choice, our competitors are in our face.”
The reality is that our region’s businesses – the businesses that provide our livelihoods – operate in an intensely competitive environment that extends far beyond the geographic and economic boundaries of Hawke’s Bay. If they don’t present their case aggressively and well – i.e., market themselves – they won’t prosper, or even survive.
Beyond what individual businesses and sectors do to market themselves in their own self-interest, is the issue of the community’s self-interest in helping its private enterprises succeed.
For example, few would dispute the community’s broad interest in providing or subsidizing the first-class infrastructure to support commerce, such as a port, airport, major roads and, lately, broadband service. While these are not marketing investments per se, such expenditures establish the principle that public monies can support private enterprise.
From there, it’s not such a big leap to public expenditures that support tourism, exporting, or technology innovation. Once that leap is taken, debate shifts to which parts or sectors of the regional economy – because of their dominant importance – should receive the most ratepayer largesse.
Of course, there’s a direct return to local governments from their marketing investments in the form of a larger rating base, which can generate more revenue to finance the projects of politicians and bureaucrats.
So, how, and how well, do our local bodies spend their marketing dollars? We’ll talk first about tourism, and then economic development.
Go here to read entire article. Or if you’re in a hurry, here are my recommendations for marketing the bay:
1. Get and use the right data – know our customers
2. Create one “premium event” calendar, with funding support
3. Leverage our HB “friends & family” and overseas ambassadors
4. Implement a serious, world-standard PR campaign
5. Make memorable service and experiences a marketing advantage
6. Improve quality of local business mentoring – to grow HB from within
7. Upgrade and master online/web-based marketing
8. Adopt the marketing execution focus & discipline recommended here by Kim Thorp
9. Produce a consolidated budget showing all local body marketing spends & KPIs – so best bang for the buck can be identified
10. Form a “Regional Marketing Council” like Wellington to strategize, coordinate and knock heads
And bring competitive air fares to Hawke’s Bay!