Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Tattler Puts Its Marketing Expertise to Work for the Sierra Madre Chamber of Commerce

As someone who runs the west coast marketing department for a major U.S. record label, I do know a thing or two about how to properly create an atmosphere conducive to the cause of commerce. And often I have thought about how I could help the Sierra Madre Chamber of Commerce with its "events problems."

Because let's face it, their prosaic 1950s "roadside attraction" approach to getting people up here to the crown jewel of the Angeles Mountains Foothills just isn't working out for them these days. In many ways times have sadly passed on by. It is something that we as Sierra Madreans need to be very concerned about.

In the age of X-Box and iTunes the thought of driving 20 miles to sit in the lap of yet one more Santa Claus just isn't going to drive the imaginations of today's thrill-seeking (and yes, jaded) consumers. Outside of the world's largest flowering plant, there isn't a whole lot here going on for them. And then what happens to their deal if it rains? Which at this year's Wistaria Festival it did, and in near Biblical proportions. As we have seen from the colossal gourmet food truck debacle, they are desperately seeking something. And quite obviously not finding it.

So how does a small town with a quaint (though commercially at-risk) downtown shopping area in need of a little foot traffic go about bringing in today's hard to please consumers? They get creative. They use what they have to get what they need. For your edification, here are two examples of small towns that are experiencing some wild success with their events. Both having what it takes to make it in our times.

The first event is run by the Chamber of Commerce of the City of Nederlands, Colorado. Here is how their slice of marketing glory is laid out in a front page article from the New York Times:

Frozen Dead Guy Festival for Sale (the Man Himself Stays on Ice) - As a business opportunity, Nederland's frozen dead guy is pretty hot right now. Well, technically, of course, he's still frozen, packed in dry ice in a shed outside town, as he has been going on 20 years.

But the concept and the rights to the name Frozen Dead Guy Days, the gleefully ghoulish late-winter bacchanal of ice and death and beer -- that's up for grabs. The Nederland Area Chamber of Commerce here in the mountains northwest of Denver owns the registered trademark to all things Dead Guy and has put those rights up for sale.

"It has grown out of our grasp," said Blue Hessner, the chamber's president. Mr. Hessner said that the board would consider all offers, with no pre-set price, and that depending on the buyer, "it could become a little more commercial."

Celebrating the mortals remains of an 89-year-old Norwegian named Bredo Morstoel, whose body became stranded here in 1993, is already a big local economic engine. Upward of 20,000 people came this year over a three-day weekend in early March to mark its 10th year and its packed agenda -- the coffin races, the parade of hearses, the crowning of an Ice Queen and the not-to-be missed frozen salmon toss.

The story goes on to tell of how Mr. Morstoel's body was at one point under the control of a cryogenics company in the area that was keeping him on ice - so to speak - until the time came when scientific technology advanced to the point when he could be thawed, brought back to life and (hopefully) full health. When local government outlawed the practice of storing frozen bodies in this way, Mr. Morstoel began a new career. The rest is history.

With the rights to the "Frozen Dead Guy" brand currently up for sale, I personally can't think of a finer way to invest Sierra Madre's CRA funds than to snap it up. I mean, 20,000 people showed up in Nederland this year! That is a lot more than Frosty the Snowman ever brought to our sparsely populated shopping district.

The other example of marketing wizardry comes from Yahoo News. It details the ability of one small village in France to attract thousands to its streets through the use of its signature natural phenomenon. Which, coincidentally enough, involves a mountain.

French village seen at threat from Apocalypse sects - The tiny hamlet of Bugarach has drawn scrutiny from a government sect watchdog over droves of visitors who believe it is the only place in the world that will survive a 2012 Apocalypse.

A report by the watchdog, Milviludes, published on Wednesday, said the picturesque village near Carcassonne should be monitored in the run-up to December 21, 2012, when many believe the world will end according to ancient Mayan prophecy.

Surrounded in legend for centuries, Bugarach and its rocky outcrop, the Pic de Bugarach, have attracted an influx of New Age visitors in recent months, pushing up property prices but also raising the threat of financial scams and psychological manipulation, Miviludes said in its report.

And what is it about the Pic de Bugarach that has so many in such an apocalyptic tizzy?

Bugarach, with a population of just 200, has long been considered magical, partly due to what locals claim is an "upside-down mountain" where the top layers of rock are older than the lower ones.

The internet is awash with myths about the place -- that the mountain is surrounded by a magnetic force, that it is the site of a concealed alien base, or even that it contains an underground access to another world. And now many have seized on it as the ultimate refuge with Doomsday rapidly approaching.

Doesn't Sierra Madre have it's own "magic mountain?" I mean, somebody named the town after it, right? There must have been a good reason for that. The "rise in property values" thing alone should get our many fine Realty firms interested in promoting Sierra Madre as a possible refuge from next year's exciting events.

On further reflection, however, I am not completely certain that attempting to recreate the successes of other places here is the way we'd want to go. I mean, I personally find both of these occurrences fascinating, but are they really for us? Could they be marketed here as successfully as they are in the places they come from? Possibly not.

Next Saturday, and exclusively on the Sierra Madre Tattler, we will reveal what we believe would be a uniquely Sierra Madre event. One approaching the caliber of the two described above. It involves a sadly disused asset of international importance, one that intimately, and most uniquely, involves our little town alone.

Until then, I wish you the best of all possible weekends.

UUT Rate Hike Update (9:00 AM) - Something we discussed earlier this week on The Tattler (June 21), Bill Coburn is now claiming on his site that the City Council will "likely" raise the UUT rate to 12% at Tuesday evening's meeting. Bill says they are using the UUT Oversight Committee's 3 to 2 vote recommendation as the rationale for doing so. This despite assurances from Buchanan that it would not happen.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

41 comments:

  1. Concerned ResidentJune 25, 2011 at 7:59 AM

    Turning the Chamber of Commerce over to the Tattler could be the solution we are all looking for. Certainly things couldn't get much worse.

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  2. Few people know there is a hidden valley in the hills that separate Arcadia from Monrovia. A tribe of Tongva (Indians) have been sequestered there from the modern world for centuries. I suggest we use CRA rules to designate the area as blighted, take it with eminent domain, then turn it into a tourist attraction.

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  3. Look no further than East Montecito and the big hole that the Hildreth's Dug. The News media has given Sierra Madre all the free coverage, but why capitalize on our downtown when the City rather take them to court.

    Why make money when you can spend it!

    In the End lose it!

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  4. Maybe we could initiate the Joe Mosca Blight Hunt. As he claimed on a television news broadcast, Sierra Madre has been awash in blight for years. It is only through his hard work and judicious use of our CRA funds that we have come to grips with the problem. Let's draw the blight map and send our citizens off on this true "trail of tears."

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  5. The City should be ashamed at what they have put the Hildreth through. All for major development on East Monetecito, including a homeless shelter.

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  6. Have someone other than the Hildreth's get a TUP, con the Hildreths to provide a tour of the Big Dig, close East Montecito down. Park food stands, supplied by Taylors Meat Market and any other "Local" Restaurants that want to be involved, bring in amplied music, so the SMPD will not issue a "Warning", and everyone in Sierra Madre will want to come. If for nothing else, just to see the Big Dig.
    But at least we will be supporting our Businesses. The same function that the Chamber is suppose to provide to its members.

    Every member of the Chamber of Commerce should be so upset as to want to quit. And Should

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  7. Curiously, Mosca, Buchanan, and Moran are "blighters," as Webster describes a "blighter" as "one held in low esteem."

    I guess it takes a blighter to recognize blight.

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  8. Only in Sierra Madre

    The City Admministration show zero support to the Business Community, (only worried about incresed revenue through property taxes). The organization that is created by the business owners, run by a restaurants critic, that wants to bring in food tructs to bitch its members involved in the same trade. Does self severing sound familar. Not even the Chamber of Commerce protects its own members.
    But they did vote Bill Coburn to his current position. So they deserve what they get. However, the Chamber is just an extention of the Dirt and the Dirtly little Gang of Fools.

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  9. The council can ignore the UUT commission's decision, just like it ignored the Community Services Commission's decision against a Farmers Market.

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  10. Starting with Mosca's state of the city speech, all we've heard from the Gang of Four is how successfully they and the city staff have balanced the budget.
    The must think we are absolute fools.

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  11. Thank you 8:33 Wonderful!!
    Mosca the Blight
    Buchanan the Blighter
    Moran the Blightest

    The Three Stooges of Blight.

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  12. Coburn is softening the blow, prepping anyone who reads his blog to make it easier on the council. Want to bet Harriet has a "it's-good-for-you" article about it in her 'paper'?

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  13. The Gang of 4 makes me P U K E!

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  14. she was harshing their mellowJune 25, 2011 at 9:39 AM

    Well there's the answer to Barbara Leigh's question. No, Barbara, we will not put it in writing that we want the UUT to stay at 10%.

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  15. Barbara Leigh performed a great service for this community. She completely blew the G4's cover on utility taxes. It is so obvious even Bill is onto them.

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  16. 9:39, that was why Bonds Buchanan told Barbara Leigh "It's complicated."

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  17. Yeah, it's complicated for Buchanan. He has to figure out how to shrink his nose again.

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  18. 9:40, I disagree that Bill is on to them.

    Bill just got his orders about what to put on his site.

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  19. I wonder if Bill will have the roasted pig wagon?

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  20. Cut off John's nose and cook it at the wagon and see if it still grows. My bet is it does.

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  21. Oh my goodness. John Buchanan lied. What a shocker.

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  22. John, I like your "take what you have and turn it into something you want" approach. Sierra Madre has one of the best and already popular brands in place. "The Treasure of Sierra Madre".(copy rights may have to be applied for) As a marketing tool the possibilities are endless. We have a deep water well re-supplied from the "depths of the San Gabriels". Market this well packaged and promoted "Agua Fria" bottled water the "Treasure of Sierra Madre". Instead of Coors made from Rocky Mountain Spring Water, How about (only 10,000 bottles a year)
    micro brew "Madre Brew", another Treasure from Sierra Madre? Cal Tech sells olive oil remanticized from their on campus olive trees. Waldo Ward already has the know how to produce and capture " Sierra Madre Olive Oil" a true virgin product. The list of possibilities for marketing the "Treasures of Sierra Madre" are endless. Instead of spending CRA funds, Utility Taxes, and Water Revenues for silly projects, how about "seed money" to make Sierra Madre a true Treasure? Loan out the money to entrapeneurs and market what we have developed. "The Treasured Products of Sierra Madre", which by the way makes money for the City.

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  23. Jim - Thanks for the kind words and the wisdom. These are all great things. But I think I have something just as big as all that. Something that will bring in a well-heeled and sophisticated tourist trade. Like I said, it is a sadly disused asset of international importance.

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  24. As always Mr. Engle your suggestions make far too much sense for you to be in the city government or the Chamber, but I hope you'll consider it anyway.

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  25. I think the Hildreth's should scrape the wine grotto aspect and instead make Sierra Madre Treasured Whiskey. Their project is in the manufacturing section of town, nothing like manufacturing and promoting Sierra Madre like Whiskey. And the City could not stop them on that one.

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  26. Maybe not the city but I'll bet the ATF could...

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  27. I can't find the agenda for the next council meeting on the city website, but it is on Coburn's site.

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  28. Interesting, Go figure. Is City Hall leaking sensitive information to a trusted messenger? Nothing up on the Patch's patchy site. I guess we now know where they turn when they need some real work done.

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  29. Patch is no doubt working on uploading the staff report as we speak, because it's so well known as a site that draws the politically aware.

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  30. Just a footnote on the foothillsJune 25, 2011 at 11:05 AM

    Way back when Sierra Madre had it's last earthquake, the various news helicopters couldn't or didn't know where to find Sierra Madre since it was such a quite backwater town.
    It's the sort of thing many of the old timers had preferred back then, the best kept secret of the foothills.
    Many would like to keep it that way. Let them all go to Monrovia to gentrify.

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  31. Maybe the city has decided to leave the agenda up to Patch

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  32. Some poor staffer forgot to upload the City Council Agenda before going home on Friday. It gets posted a number of places, a copy goes to the Library, and it's issued as a press release to the "press". They maintain it's a courtesy that it's loaded onto the city website. Or perhaps it's a conspiracy to keep some of us from knowing what they're going to talk about on Tuesday night...

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  33. Patch is over at the library trying to bum some change so he can use the copy machines.

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  34. ATF will help with the Hildreth's manufacturing of Whiskey. Nothing illegal in the manufacturing of Whiskey. Just a permit, the ATF honors their permit process unlike the City of Sierra Madre. I have seen the Hildreth's permits. They have all of their permits. It is just the City stalling until they can take All of East Montecito. It is in the Plans layed out to the State for our housing mandated numbers.
    The Dirt, the Gang of Four and the City Adminstration is just lying and hiding.

    So at least with whiskey there will be an excuse and something good to drink.

    I hope the Hildreth's get the message, "Nothing like Good Sierra Madre Whiskey, with have enough wine around town.

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  35. I think rum would be better.

    Sierra Madre Buccaneer Speciality Rum or Buried Buccaneer Rum Treasure of the Sierra Madre, or Sierra Madre Buccaneer Bounty of Sierra Madre

    Make a deal with the Buccaneer, than this town is happening!

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  36. It is not that John Buchanan lies. It is just that the truth is different now.

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  37. No John Buchanan lies... See Neroblast Films, more than one I might add.

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  38. Still no agenda on the city website.
    So much for transparency, and improving the residents' "trust."

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  39. They haven't got all the lies right yet.

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  40. I just checked and the agenda still isn't there. Isn't it the law that it has to be available to the public so many hours before a city council meeting can take place?

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