LETTERS: Marketing, fire prevention

Weekly letters to the editor from within the Sooke community.

The News Mirror’s recent article has sparked many ideas to better market Sooke.

Should we focus on economic development by recruiting industry, investment, retailers or employers? Do we want to be a destination for conventions; sports, entertainment or cultural events; or movie production? Do we aim to draw more tourists and keep bringing them back?

Should we attract more home buyers and real estate investment, new residents or certain types of residents such as retirees, growing families or artists? Do we work to entice existing residents to shop locally, come out to events, and pitch in as volunteers?

The answer I’m hearing is: “Yes! All of the above.”

There are many marketing activities going on.

The Sooke Region Chamber of Commerce promotes local shopping; fire departments are actively recruiting more volunteers; businesses and non-profits promote their goods and services; Sooke Region Tourism Association has a mandate to promote the region to tourists; the District of Sooke has an obligation to communicate with citizens.

One challenge is that marketing is often an afterthought. Many small businesses are one-person operations. Time, energy and investment focuses on providing products and services to customers and this in itself is more than a full-time job. They must find additional time for management functions like budgeting, planning and growing their customer base with little time or capacity for much else.

In non-profit and public organizations funding is stretched to make the most of limited dollars. What marketing and promotion they can do is piecemeal and there is little public appetite for precious tax or donor dollars spent on promotion.

All of these organizations – business, public and non-profit – are expected to be marketing experts as well as being experts at operating a gas station or restaurant, being a fire chief, running a minor sport club, or putting on an art show.

Outstanding examples of successful local marketing include Vancouver Island Lodge and Sooke Harbour House – both have invested significant time and dollars in creating a fabulous product and service, and in attracting customers who enjoy a positive, memorable experience. Sooke as a whole benefits from their efforts.

Meanwhile, other businesses struggle to compete with Langford retailers for Sooke shoppers, cultural groups need people at events, non-profits face volunteer burn-out, and they all compete for our attention. Tax dollars are spent on marketing activities (advertising, sponsorship, grant funding, website) without clear objectives to measure performance or return on investment.

A good start is to work together to coordinate Sooke’s various marketing efforts, build on success and identify common objectives that can be monitored and measured. The combined impact from better coordination and integration of sporadic and piecemeal promotion can be much greater than the sum total of individual efforts.

Better overall marketing of the community as a whole would benefit all organizations and enhance individual promotion.

Who should take the lead? The District of Sooke now funds SRTA, the chamber and the Info Centre (through the Sooke Region Museum) as well as its statutory and discretionary promotion. It’s a logical place for leadership.

There are hands up from people willing to volunteer their expertise. Let us help.

Doni Eve

Sooke

 

Just who are the stupid ones?

Well, I’m perplexed!

South of the border, U.S. citizens were fined for flying a drone over a pod of killer orcas within the limits set forward to protect them, which is not permitted.  Makes sense to me. Keep in mind no one got hurt.

Now, a fire rages in Washington state and and hundreds of thousands of human lives are being affected.  Property damaged, homes gone, vehicles reduced to melted plastic and rubber. Not to mention the multi millions of trees burned to the ground and livelihoods.

That fire will cost every U.S. citizen the financial burden of repair. All because of one individual’s mistake whether intentional or not.

The same thing can and will happen here, someday.  We are hopefully nearing the end of a long drought but it’s still a fire bomb just waiting to go off.

This happens on a regular basis here in Sooke, a local resident or transient decides it would be nice to have a camp fire and roast some hotdogs and marshmallows. Sounds cozy. Well it’s not.

Another person driving down the road throws a lit cigarette out the window thinking “no big deal.” Well it is.

What if one or both, on the same night get out of hand and a raging fire starts and wipes out every home and business here in paradise? It can happen. Wake up, smell the roses before they are ash. Fine the drone guy, let “fire stupid” off with a warning and increase everyone’s taxes to pay for the damage. Canadian, eh? Imagine our village a complete smouldering piece of ash with everything gone. Chernobyl, a new beginning but never the same.

We really can’t do anything about Mother Nature, but we can do something about stupid. Or we could just say: “It’s OK, just try not to let it happen again.” Ask yourself: who are the stupid ones?

Kel Phair

Sooke