Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Shaking Off the Doldurms?

I had the opportunity to visit with a number of site consultants and corporate real estate executives last week, thanks to the Piedmont Triad Partnership. It was a hectic week but I returned feeling better about the future than I have in several months.

The site consultants, who are a key player in the site selection game reported an increase in the number of deals that they have seen and reported a nice increase in traffic. They reported that several projects that had been shelved or put on hold were seeing new life and that inquiries were on the up-tick.

This doesn't mean that we are going to see the end of double-digit unemployment anytime soon or that I expect a sudden rush of inquiries for Stokes County but it does mean that there is hope. Companies that have sat on expansion plans for 18-24 months are looking to grow again, which will lead to new building, new jobs and economic growth. It won't be a deluge, more like a fine mist, but you have to start somewhere.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Tourism Webinars

The Cascade Highlands, our regional tourism destination provider is offering a slate of training webinars and workshops over the next two months. Please view details below.

Tourism Hands-On Workshops

As part of its mission to provide tourism educational programs, The Cascade Highlands will be offering a series of practical, relevant hands-on educational workshops designed for the tourism industry. Based on the experience and knowledge of industry professionals, these workshops provide operators, business owners and their staff up-to-date training and insight to grow their business.

Event Title: The Secrets of Travel Packaging Success by Opportunities Unlimited, Inc.

Date and time: May 5, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Location: Hampton Inn & Suites at Shelton Vineyards, Dobson, NC

Price: $35 (lunch included)

Description: Create results for your tourism region, lodging property, attraction, arts organization, restaurant or tour company with the secrets of packaging success. You will uncover the marketplace forces of packaging, online packaging models, and consumer psychographics that influence buying decisions. In addition, you will learn a process to tap into the most popular package product types and the different elements of package components to design your own compelling products.

RSVP: Register by April 28 at www.thecascadehighlands.com/education

FREE Webinar Series

Bringing timely information right to your desktop, The Cascade Highlands offers online sessions covering an array of topics important to your organization's success. Webinars will focus on best practices in online marketing, social media, branding and tourism marketing. These Webinars are open to anyone and are free.

Event Title: All You Ever Wanted to Know About Email Marketing, Blue Sky Factory

Date and time: March 30, 1 p.m. – 2 p.m.

Location: Internet

Price: FREE

Description: This session will this help new e-mail marketers get started, and it will also serve as a refresher to seasoned industry veterans in best practices for e-mail marketing. This Webinar is free.

Register: Register by March 29 at www.thecascadehighlands.com/education

Event Title: Social Media – Men, Women, and Communication, Brand Champs, Inc.

Date and time: April 7, 2 p.m. – 3 p.m.

Location: Internet

Price: FREE

Description: In this session, you'll learn how messaging, through each social media network should be created based on gender. Men and women conduct conversations differently, and they behave differently in their social media communities. Knowing the difference helps brands in participating in these real-time conversations. This Webinar is free.

Register: Register by April 6 at www.thecascadehighlands.com/education

Event Title: 5 Brand Strategies to Connect with Women, Brand Champs, Inc.

Date and time: April 21, 2 p.m. – 3 p.m.

Location: Internet

Price: FREE

Description: If women are an important market segment for your brand, this is a must session. It contains insights and recommended actions to improve your brand's ability to connect, not sell to, women customers. This Webinar is free.

Register: Register by April 19 at www.thecascadehighlands.com/education

Event Title: Small Town Tourism – How to Maximize Your Precious Resources

Date and time: May 12, 2 p.m. – 3 p.m.

Location: Internet

Price: FREE

Description: Join tourism marketing consultant Chris Cavanaugh of Magellan Strategy Group for a discussion of the dos and don’ts of small town tourism, looking at best practices of the industry and how to maximize your precious resources. He will also ask for your input on a national research project targeted at understanding the preferences of small town travelers and potential barriers to visitation.

Register: Register by May 11 at www.thecascadehighlands.com/education

Event Title: How to Write Motivational Copy, Brand Champs, Inc.

Date and time: May 19, 2010 2 p.m. – 3 p.m.

Location: Internet

Price: FREE

Description: Writing copy is one thing, but writing motivational copy is another. Understanding the difference includes word choice, word pairings, and language style.

Register: Register by May 17 at www.thecascadehighlands.com/education

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Cascade Highlands of NC & VA presents

Tourism Summit

Friday March 26, 9 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

The Crossroads Institute, Galax, VA

Register Now

Guest Speakers:

Lori Cogan, senior vice president of Integrative Marketing of The Tombras Group, will discuss the next revolution in digital marketing, and explain what it means to marketers and how your organization can harness it.

David Avery, senior vice president of The Tombras Group, will explore and advance your knowledge of consumer research that “do-it-yourselfers” can implement to enhance their marketing campaigns.

Chris Cavanaugh, president of Magellan Strategy Group, will present his research findings on a travel and tourism market analysis and assessment conducted for Northwest North Carolina and Southwest Virginia.

Brandon McCann, executive director of The Cascade Highlands, will present the organization’s spring and summer advertising campaign along with explaining how partners can participate in regional co-op advertising.

For more events and workshops, visit www.thecascadehighlands.com/education

This should be an excellent program. The speaker are first rate and the information should be timely for any tourism provider in the Cascade Highlands area.

Marketing Work Moves Forward

There is a saying that "when the going gets tough, the tough get going." That, unfortunately is exactly where we find ourselves today, with the going tough. Federal, State and Local Governments as well as private entities find themselves with difficult choices. What do we cut, how deeply do we cut and can we really afford to keep paying for our lifestyles with no thoughts of the long term consequences?

I can't begin to answer these questions. I can however provide some insight as to my thoughts on marketing and how it can impact a local economy. I think when you are at the bottom, which we hopefully are, you need to work smarter, be more aggressive and look for new opportunities. That is exactly why we are creating a new visitors guide for Stokes County. We want to promote the image of being the outdoor playground of the Piedmont. We are reaching out to not only our local Chamber of Commerce in King, but the Winston Salem Chamber and will be looking for other opportunities. We can no longer accept things as they are and expect someone else to take pity on us and look out for our best interest. This is not going to happen.

In addition to these steps, I am working on a county-wide tourism development plan. This will map the assets we have in place, determine who our allies are, what we have on the shelf already and where we need to go. We will be looking for opportunities to leverage funding sources to develop our assets in a positive manner. This will include the development of the Dan River Corridor as an economic engine and job creator for the county.

This plan, along with a parallel effort to enhance Moratock Park will cost the County about $45 to $50,000. It is not the best time to spend money but if we are to move forward, I feel it imperative to take these steps. Without it, we will look around two, five or ten years down the road and wonder what happened to the opportunities that many have taken advantage of and we have let pass us by.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Bloom Where You are Planted

With the coming of spring, I think this list gets right to the point. I have a long list of cliches that encompass these six points and those of you that know me have heard them all. Instead of repeating them, I will use this post from EducoPark:

"The six keys to success".

1. Attitude
Bloom where you are planted. You have a choice to get back up after temporary set backs. Attitude is a small thing that makes a big difference!

2. Direction
If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there. Write your short term goals down on paper. I have discovered and continue to discover that putting your dreams and goals down on paper lock in or focus your belief that they can be achieved--even if you have to take a course correction in achieving your goals. Success comes in cans, failure comes in can'ts.

3. Values
Explore what is important to you. Maybe it is family, friends, your spirituality or working hard at any given task. I can assure you that your priorities will change as you grow older. Very important that you value yourself and treat yourself like the valuable gift from God that you are.

4. Interests
Birds of a feather flock together. This is to say that if you are hanging around winners or others with a "can do" mind-set, you'll likely adapt to this same kind of thinking. Remember--"SUCCESS LEAVES CLUES!

5. Commitment
Feelings may change, commitments do not. "Success is getting up one more time than you fall." I have often wanted to give up, and then I must think to myself about what the consequences of giving up will be. Generally, this is more than enough of a motivation to make us stick to the task at hand even if we don't feel like it. When the task is achieved, Whow!--IT FEELS GREAT!

6. Encouragement
Be an encourager and comforter to friends that are feeling discouraged. I promise that you will not regret this as you will be encouraged by one, if not many, when you are feeling down. Encouragement and love are contagious qualities that can change the minds of the most stubborn and "hard-to-get- along-with" people you know. I have seen it happen over and over again.

The ones that really hit home for me are you aren't a failure til you quit trying, developing a road map for yourseld is imperitive and a kind word goes a long way.

With that though in mind, I hope each of you has a wonderful day. Your are unique, worthwhile and have a special purpose. Find what it is and use it to the best of your abilities.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010



Stokes County Arts Council

J. Eddy McGee, Executive Director


The United States Air Force Heritage of America Band’s Langley Winds woodwind quintet will span more than 250 years of musical tradition when they appear at North Stokes High School, 1350 North Stokes School Road, Danbury, North Carolina, for a free performance on Saturday, March 20, 2010 at 4:00 p.m. (auditorium). The quintet’s repertoire includes a wide variety of chamber works as well as popular and patriotic pieces.

The quintet’s versatility stems from their diverse educational backgrounds and professional experiences. They hold degrees from music schools all over the country including Indiana University, University of Michigan, West Virginia University, and the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Members have performed with the Waco Symphony, West Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Central Ohio Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Wind Symphony, and the Aspen Music Festival Orchestra.

The public is invited to attend this FREE performance sponsored by the Stokes County Arts Council. For more information, please contact the Stokes County Arts Council at 336-593-8159.

Please see attached photo and flyer.



Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Do you have what it takes to be an entrepeneur?

Below is an article from Boomtown, produced by Daniel Isenberg. While there is no sure fire guarantee that you will succeed, these 20 questions can jump start the thought process. Take the quiz and see how you do:

Daniel Isenberg, a Professor of Management Practice at Babson College, recently developed a 2-minute Entrepreneur Test, to help people decide if they have what it takes to make the leap to entrepreneur. Below are Professor Isenberg's 20 questions:
I don't like being told what to do by people who are less capable than I am.
I like challenging myself.
I like to win.
I like being my own boss.
I always look for new and better ways to do things.
I like to question conventional wisdom.
I like to get people together in order to get things done.
People get excited by my ideas.
I am rarely satisfied or complacent.
I can't sit still.
I can usually work my way out of a difficult situation.
I would rather fail at my own thing than succeed at someone else's.
Whenever there is a problem, I am ready to jump right in.
I think old dogs can learn - even invent - new tricks.
Members of my family run their own businesses.
I have friends who run their own businesses.
I worked after school and during vacations when I was growing up.
I get an adrenaline rush from selling things.
I am exhilarated by achieving results.
I could have written a better test than Isenberg (and here is what I would change ....)
If you answered "yes" on 17 or more of these questions, look at your paycheck (if you are lucky enough to still get one). If the company that issued the check isn't owned by you, it is time for some soul searching: Do you have debts to pay? Kids in college? Alimony? Want to take it easy? Maybe better to wait. Do you have a little extra cash in the bank and several credit cards? Do you have a spouse, partner, friends, or kids who will cheer you on? If so, start thinking about what kind of business you want to set up. It doesn't matter what age you are: research by the Kauffman Foundation shows that more and more over-50s are setting up their own businesses. Talk to people who have made the plunge, learn how to plan and deliver a product or service, think about that small business you might buy, talk to people with whom you would like to work, and talk to customers.

All else being equal (and all else is rarely equal in the real world), on the average, people who set up their own businesses don't make more money, although a few do succeed in grabbing the brass ring. But the "psychic benefits" - the challenge, autonomy, recognition, excitement, and creativity - make it all worthwhile.

Do you have what it takes?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Marketing Comes Back Around

Full circle to a "Destination Based" strategy, which is exactly what we have been working on for the last year. Attached is an article from USA Today that discusses why this is important. It has to do with limited budgets and people watching every penny. We want Stokes County to be the best alternative for people in the Triad and
Triangle to visit, play and spend their time and money.

theKaryl Leigh Barnes
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February 12, 2010 3:51 PM
Cities use destination branding to lure tourists- USA Today
February 12, 2010

If you’ve recently been a part of a round-table discussion about rethinking your country, region, state or city brand, you’re not alone.

As USA Today notes, "Destination branding… is back in vogue as cities and states pursue image makeovers designed to help them stand out in the weak global economy.”

"The branding bug is definitely on the ascent," notes Ted Levine, chairman of Development Counsellors International.

And if this leads to a resurgence of American travel and global economic stability – that’s a good thing.

Karyl Leigh Barnes

Vice President, Tourism Practice

Cities use destination branding to lure tourists
By Roger Yu

February 12, 2010

Tom Biedenharn's new business cards contain a recruiting message: "Dayton Patented. Originals Wanted."

The cards are a reminder that the city was once a place of innovation and is again serious about recruiting such talent, says Biedenharn, Dayton's public affairs manager.

City employees' business cards are part of a branding campaign designed to revive the city. The tagline was adopted to evoke Dayton's heritage as once having more patents per capita than any other city in the USA and that "the same inventive spark is still present today," Biedenharn says.

"Destination branding," such as Dayton is undertaking, is back in vogue as cities and states pursue image makeovers designed to help them stand out in the weak global economy, attract visitors and even lure people who might relocate. Some are adopting new themes. Others are recalibrating messages to portray themselves as an affordable place to visit.

"The branding bug is definitely on the ascent," says Ted Levine, chairman of Development Counsellors International, which works with cities in promoting tourism and economic development.

North Star Destination Strategies, a Tennessee firm that specializes in c

Among those that have launched rebranding efforts in recent years or are considering new campaigns, according to branding consultants: Fresno; Santa Rosa, Calif.; Providence; the state of Virginia; Beaverton, Ore.; North Port, Fla.; Peekskill, N.Y.; Los Alamos, N.M.; Fairbanks, Alaska; Cleveland; and the state of Florida.

City slogans have been around for decades. But image branding is taking on more urgency as visitors and meeting planners become more discriminating in spending their shrinking budgets. Rust Belt communities hope a refreshed message can help court new business and convince the locals, as much as outsiders, that their best days aren't over.

City branding, received more requests for proposals in 2009 than ever before, says its CEO, Don McEachern.

City advertising has critics, who say the money is better spent elsewhere. And quantifying a return on investment can be difficult. But effective campaigns in the past have been vital in reinvigorating some destinations, Levine says. Australia emerged from deep down under with its "Shrimp on the Barbie" campaign featuring Paul Hogan. Las Vegas' "What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas" highlighted its unabashed return as a sin city. "I Love New York" and "Virginia is for Lovers" are enduring taglines that still resonate with travelers.

The trend has caught on at the federal level, too. Congress is considering a bill that would create a non-profit company whose primary purpose is to make the USA an attractive destination to foreigners. Geoff Freeman of the U.S. Travel Association says many potential visitors have shunned the U.S. because of stepped-up security after the Sept. 11 terror attacks and the cumbersome process of obtaining entry visas. The new company would be funded through a $10 charge levied on tourists from countries that have a visa-waiver status with the USA. Private companies would match.

But with so many cities claiming to be a unique and fun place to be, most destination campaigns fail, as advertising without substance is inevitably wont to do, Levine says. Cities often neglect to mobilize the community into adopting the spirit of the campaign or fail to target the right audience, he says. "It makes no sense for a small town to market to Australia."

Matching message to audience

Cities are more specific in touting their uniqueness and targeting the demographics more likely to be swayed by their message, says Dan Fenton, chairman of Destination Marketing Association International.

Santa Rosa's previous slogan was "Come Visit," a generic message that wasn't registering with tourists who bypassed it for smaller towns in California's Sonoma County in search of 200 vineyards in the area.

In 2007, city officials spent $80,000 and hired North Star to assess Santa Rosa and learned it was seen as a place of business. Its new tagline, "Place of Plenty," was created to highlight its "agricultural heritage and abundance of food and wine," says Mo McElroy of Santa Rosa Convention & Visitors Bureau.

New logos, websites and brochures — featuring a cornucopia filled with grapes, knives and forks — plug the area's farm-to-table dining with icons representing vineyards, restaurants, shopping and farmers' markets, she says.

It's hard to say whether the new campaign will pay off long term. The number of visitors in Sonoma County remained flat in 2008 with about 7 million. "The economy stopped us short," McElroy say.

It's about stirring locals, too

For cities such as Dayton, Fresno and Cleveland, branding goes beyond tourism. It aims for a new identity that can stir local communities out of economic doldrums. Dayton's $190,000 campaign was as much a symbol of its hoped-for economic transition "from heavy automotive to capturing young creative talent," Biedenharn says.

Its ads depict downtown loft condos, artists and young families who can help in its economic revival. In developing the campaign, city officials invoked the success of early local leaders — industrialist John Patterson, the Wright brothers and Delco founder Charles Kettering — to recall its heritage of innovation. Other businesses and organizations in the city have adopted the logo for use on their own materials.

The "Cleveland Plus" campaign launched in mid-2007 similarly sought to mix the message of the region's viability as a place to invest with its "quirkier side" that might appeal to visitors, says Tamera Brown, a marketing executive at Positively Cleveland, the city's visitors and convention bureau. The campaign featured Iron Chef Mike Symon, a local resident, making pirogi filled with beef cheek. "It's Midwestern hip. But we never say that, because if you say you're hip, you're not," Brown says.

Not everyone bought into the campaign. Local comedian Mike Polk made a parody video, Hastily Made Cleveland Tourism Video, showing an empty downtown, deteriorating factories and trains leaving town paired with a raunchy song about its economic decline. It has become a YouTube sensation, with more than 2 million views.

Cleveland city officials were undeterred. They embraced the notoriety and sponsored a "Hastily Made" tourism video competition that received more than 40 entries. Polk was one of the five judges.