We’re at at the EDAC conference in Peterborough. That’s me, Chase and Tim Lawlor — three employees of this company, in three separate hotel rooms, four four nights. “EDAC” is the Economic Developers Association of Canada.
Obviously, I’ve decided to allocate truly significant resources to this conference. Fortunately, Peterborough is about a four hour drive west of Ottawa so a single rental car (at discounted rates) is all we needed to get me and Tim here. Chase took the bus from St. Catharines — something of a gruelling journey, but not too expensive.
Peterborough certainly is large enough for a decent-sized hotel/conference centre, but local politics and economics mean that we are staying in an “old” Holiday Inn. Cost is about $150 per room night.
Still, this thing goes four nights — with three of us here — so that’s 12 room nights. Chase co-ordinated a conference/marketing trade out for two passes, but I didn’t think it right to leave Tim as a second class citizen here, since this travel relates to his own idea. So I cleared the last-minute payment of about $850 for a full conference registration for him.
Cash cost, then, is approaching $4,000. And three of us are out of town for four nights — so add the productivity and inconvenience and this is a truly major marketing investment. Using my “rule of thumb” for discretionary business expenses, I multiply the cash (and visible soft costs) by seven to come up with a reasonable break-even calculation — so we would need to achieve about $30,000 in revenue from this initiative. (I haven’t scientifically validated the 7x rule, but it seems reasonable, considering overall marketing and business operation costs and the challenge/need to set guidelines on expenses that don’t directly correlate to current operations.)
Is this marketing expense worthwhile?
Well, both Tim and Chase have successfully extended local relationships with economic development officers for several Ontario municipalities into worthy features that have provided real value to the local communities (and resulted in repeat business, two or even three times.) The outgoing EDAC president lives in a city not far from Ottawa and has co-operated with feature profiles in his own community. And our Canadian Design and Construction Report, with its national focus, is obviously relevant to communities in other provinces. Economic Development Officers often have meaningful marketing budgets and connections and personal relationships with the leaders in their local development and construction industries. So, communicating and relating to this important group seems entirely logical.
As things stand, I’ve given Chase and Tim free reign to connect, communicate and build rapport with the economic development officers, while I have focused on attending the business programs and really learning how local economic development is promoted and encouraged. I’ll have more on these points in the next two postings.
Our participation here, however, relates to one of my common marketing themes and recommendations for construction marketers. While of course I encourage you to belong to your relevant industry associations, when you are marketing, consider the power of your upstream market-based associations and groups. In other words, focus your marketing dollars and energies in associations where your clients are members (and better, leaders). If you are successful, you will combine the development of interpersonal relations and referrals with a recognition of community spirit and positive brand identity both effectively and inexpensively.
About eight months from now, we’ll track the success of our EDAC investment because next year’s conference, in the far north, will require significantly higher travel and accommodation resources if we wish to participate there.