This review first ran in the July 30th edition of The Hamilton Spectator.
A quick look at the books for the Hamilton Waterfront Trust shows there’s a big problem.
The Waterfront Trust needs to spend a lot more money on advertising. Last year’s ad buy was a meager $37,000 for seven Trust-run businesses with combined revenues of more than $2 million. Eight out of every 10 ad dollars went to the Hamilton Harbour Queen. For those of you not in the know, that’s a boat and not the winner of a nautical beauty pageant.
The Waterfront Trust can’t cost-cut its way to financial sustainable. Revenues need to grow. That means more of us need to spend more of our money at the water’s edge. But we won’t go if we don’t know what’s there.
Not only does the Trust’s brain trust need to double down on its ad buy. They need to invest in social media and build a bigger and better platform beyond a website that has all the charm and personality of an instruction manual.
“A platform is the thing you have to stand on to get heard,” says author and social media expert Michael Hyatt, who has more than 400,000 monthly visitors to his website and 50,000 subscribers to his daily blog posts. “It’s your stage. Today’s platform is not build of wood or concrete or perched on a grassy hill. Today’s platform is built of people. Contacts. Connections. Followers.
“In today’s business environment, you need two things: a compelling product and a significant platform.” Hyatt says business competition has never been greater and consumers are more distracted than ever before.
A well-built platform delivers on three fronts:
- Increased visibility that elevates you above the crowd
- More amplification so you can be heard over the roar of the crowd
- And greater engagement with current and prospective customers
Social media makes up the main planks in your platform. These planks include Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Pinterest, YouTube, blogs and websites.
Taken together, social media gives you a platform to start and join conversations. Share ideas. Champion a cause. Lead the charge. Offer solutions. And build an ever-expanding tribe of raving fans and loyal followers.
“Marketing may not be dead but, in the world of social media, it has morphed. Dramatically. Tribe-building is the new marketing. Marketing is no longer about shouting in a crowded marketplace; it is about participating in a dialogue with fellow travelers. Marketing is no longer about generating transactions; it is about building relationships. Marketing is no longer about exploiting a market for your own benefit; it is about serving those who share your passion – for your mutual benefit.”
An engaged tribe will sing your praises to family and friends, fans and followers both online and off. They’ll happily offer up testimonials and endorsements. They’ll share their stories and experiences. They’ll shoot videos, take photos and create some amazing social media content that casts you in favourable light.
Hyatt cautions that you must have a wow before figuring out how to build a platform and connect with your tribe. Twitter and Facebook won’t save a lousy product or disappointing service. If anything, it will hasten your demise. To borrow a line from marketing guru David Ogilvy, “great marketing only makes a bad product fail faster.”
The Waterfront Trust has a real wow at the water’s edge. With the right social media platform, the Trust could easily connect and engage with a pretty passionate tribe. A tribe who’s looking for a safe and scenic place to run, walk and bike. To entertain in-laws and impress out-of-town guests. To go on dates. To get the kids unplugged from their iPads and Playstations and connected with the outdoors and. To throw cool parties, events and offsite retreats. And to foster an even greater sense of community and civic pride.
@jayrobb works and lives in #HamOnt and blogs at jayrobb.me.