This time of the year brings about thoughts of friends and family and I can’t think of a better time to talk about collaboration. I have found when taking on projects and initiatives that there is definitely strength in numbers … Read More
In partnership with my community and our Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) I have been privileged to conceive and develop two Tourism Trails. The Taste Trail which set the standard and the Arts Trail a strong follow up. Both have won numerous awards and been acknowledged as economic leadership initiatives.
What I learned is that when you take inherent community assets be they gastronomy, art, culture or other, get businesses and community to ‘buy in’ via collaboration & ownership and package an easy to understand and easy to experience concept it can really elevate something from good to great.
Our Taste Trail was developed when we were emerging as Ontario’s Gastronomic Capital. By packaging the number and variety of artisan beverages (wine, beer, cider) and food businesses into a gastro-trail experience using a trail map & guide, personality profile, web-site and roadside way finding signage magic happened.
The magic that happened is that this packaging started to garner a lot of attention especially with the press. Our Taste Trail businesses in partnership with the DMO were in a two way courtship with the press, The media had an appetite for our stories and we were hungry for their attention. Before we knew it over $2 million of media exposure throughout the globe including Japan was covering our gastronomy, community, people, Taste Trail and partners’ stories.
A modest marketing budget was pumped up on steroids to promote the new Trail and experience, which in turn drove visitor trial, traffic, sales and relationships with customers and the media. The whole community benefited not just the Taste Trail.
A similar experience including some dramatic double digit sales increases are being declared by our Arts Trail artists as a result of following the success formula established by its predecessor.
In turn this awareness and recognition attracts more investors in gastronomy, arts & culture and beyond, enhances the Quality of Place and is a holistic full circle approach to building community, the economy and businesses.
Sometimes it is easy to underestimate your inherent assets or the power of an idea, collaboration or packaging what you already have. In our case it has been a boon to our community and economy. With today’s emergence of social media, these types of ideas can be even more powerful and effective in growing business and economies.
Let’s keep the conversation going…
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As part of my Christmas week marathon of cheese meetings, I met with Gurth Pretty “Canada’s Big Cheese”. Gurth is a chef, author, runs his own cheese business and heads up the Ontario Cheese Society among other things.
My mission was to talk about our invest in cheese initiative and discuss how we could work with Gurth under the various hats that he wears to cross promote each other, drive traffic, membership, investment attraction leads and sales. Gurth was keen to work with us and his cheese counterparts in Toronto on our up coming brainstorming session.
Gurth has some exceptional and ambitious plans around the possibility of expanding the Ontario Cheese Society coast to coast and make it a National Association as well as being very interested in seeing an accredited cheese making school establish in (Ontario) Canada. While our invest in cheese initiative doesn’t see a direct role in realizing these dreams we are very interested and supportive of these exciting ideas.
I can see this topic coming up in our brainstorming session and I can see each of the stakeholders at the table having a vested interest in seeing the visions realized.
Should a national association and an accredited cheese making school become established, we will all win and become stronger and more successful in our individual missions. It may very well behoove us to collaborate to assist in realizing some of the dreams…
It is really easy to maintain a myopic view of one’s mission, but if we open our minds up to the possibilities of working together great things can be happen. It’s hard to argue that a strong National Cheese Association and an Accredited Cheese Makers school wouldn’t help us tap into potential cheese making start ups and new investments in our region, especially if we play some sort of supportive role.
These cheese folks are a really creative and collaborative crew, I am looking forward to working with these folks in the new year and seeing where things go.
My final “cheese collaboration blog” will address some exciting cheese promotion ideas starting to take shape.