Thoughts about promoting Mojácar

Right, time to sort out some of the old ideas that are percolating around in the noggin from conversations I had over the weekend. Draft 1, mainly coming from ideas I had in the shower this am.

First off, these are my thoughts. Things I have thought of, after conversations, not opinions on any body or person. I am not presenting them to anyone but the world for comments, in order to enrich my own thought processes.

Starting from the basics

Yes, Mojácar needs a strong business association, (which some might call a chamber of commerce, although technically speaking that terms would apply to a joint private / government body). But it needs one that fits into the prexisting structure of chambers of commerce in Spain.

For example.

Spain has its’ associations, which are local organisations, grouped up into larger confederations. The more powerful an association gets, the more clout it has officially, and can eventually end up asking from funding from the government, seats on local governments thinktanks / bodies, etc. This only happens if the association is setup properly in the first place, and gains enough members.

Our main business confederation in Almería is ASEMPAL. I see that ACEM has joined, so that’s a good indication that they’ve gone the right way about setting up the association, and, hopefully, are meeting up with other local bodies to discuss tactics. It needs to be following the established route to accreditation with the Spanish Administration.

Other bodies in the area, and they all have clout to a greater or lesser degree, would be ACEVER (Vera), AEPA (Albox), ASEMCAL (Cuevas), ACEGAR (Garrucha), ASHAL (Almería, prob the biggest), etc.

What Mojácar doesn’t need, and I mention this because of what has happened in the past with other such associations, is a business association that gets involved in local politics, or otherwise gets distracted into saving local tortoises. It’s a natural impulse, especially from the expats, but the committee of any association must firmly refuse the temptation.

Why?

The byzantine labyrinth that is Mojácar politics will defeat any attempt to penetrate it. The best any assocation could hope for would be a couple of seats on the council, and this would probably have the effect of unifying the other “families” against the new menace. Todays Mojácar based Obama is tomorrows’ George Bush, that’s the best I can say.

So apolitical is the way to go. You’re defending the businessman / woman. Not the politician. The politicians need to be sucking up to you.

Marketing

Any such association, especially at the beginning, needs to buy a book on guerilla marketing. And read it.

Funds are limited for any such association, at least until they can start applying for targeted grants for specific campaigns from the Diputación. That means new associations need to be born in  a strong way, and keep growing.

So, if the association wants to get into the marketing game, it needs to be innovative and think realistically.

Work out its aims

An association needs to have aims and targets to grow.

Now, ACEM appears – in it’s marketing buff- to be trying to “promote Mojácar”. A worthy aim, but currently it can’t do anything too meaningful (see below).

Now, it has scored two coups.

It’s paid Gaunt to promote Mojácar on his internet radio show. I personally doubt the money has been well spent in terms of marketing Mojácar in the UK, but I will say that the promotion it has given ACEM in Mojácar has been worth every penny.

It has also got the Euro Weekly and Spectrum to agree to run information about Mojácar. This is, I wish to put on public record, A Very Good Thing. More on this below.

Both of these has given ACEM much initial publicity, but can it back up it’s claims that it’s bringing much needed publicity to the area? Or is it risking a marketing blowup when this promotion is over and it doesn’t have something else big to call for attention and people start to forget about it?

Don’t forget the basics

Most business assocations build up membership by offering members something in return. A structured network of support and advice.

Cuevas business association, and it’s a fairly standard one, offers members free publicity, access to financial support and advice via the banks (doesn’t cost them anything, they just setup the agreements with a few banks and then members have preferential treatment), legal advice newsletters, and much more.

Mojácar, with its large number of expat businesses, (and Albox!) desperatly needs something like this, but in English. Imagine the advantadge to the expat businessperson of having access to all the basic information you need to run a business in Spain, but in English. It’s probably not as much work as you’d imagine.

Promotion

ACEM say they’re trying to promote Mojácar abroad, but to be frank they can’t do that with much effectiveness because they have no funds. But they have paid John Gaunt, an internet radio DJ who’s only broadcast live in Spain (his show, SunTalk, run together with British tabloid The Sun, is an internet station that is also broadcast on the Spectrum FM network), to run a promotion.

Now, ACEM with not much funds, can’t break into the UK market in any way. The main result of this promotion has been to increase their own visibility in Mojácar, and in that they’ve succeeded.

I feel that a slightly more realistic game plan –and I don’t know what their gameplan is! Just talking out loud– until they are fully accredited would be to promote Mojácar via more unconventional manners. See my remark on guerilla marketing above. Any UK marketing campaign costs tens of thousands, and that’s government money.

For example:

Chris Marshall (see his bit about it here) came up with the interesting idea over breakfast at Beachcombers to promote Mojácar to expats living in Spain. I’d like to give that idea a twist.

ACEM has got Spectrum FM and the EuroWeeklyNews, both national media in English, to give some coverage to Mojácar. Now, that’s absolutly bloody fantastic and I applaud them for it. But I don’t think they’re making the best use of that.

Because it appears that the publicity is still being used to broadcast to expats back in the UK. But it’s being read by expats already in Spain. The same goes for Gaunt. I bet more more potential Mojácar visitors listen to Gaunt in Spain than they do in England.

So why not try to encourage people who are in Spain, but mobile, to come here? I’m talking about the overwinter campers and the (cheaper long term living, not Puerto Banús) Yatch crowd. They’re in Spain, in Mallorca, or Marbella, or Benidorm, or where-ever. And they’re reading the local copy of the EuroWeeklyNews, and listening to their local broadcast of Spectrum.

And they’re in a position to say “it’s wet here, let’s go down to sunny Mojácar and spend the rest of the winter there. This nice Ric Polansky fellow seems to love the place, let’s have a look”. And here they come, right now, this week.

And campers, and yatchers, tend to buy out more in local establishments than people in all inclusive resorts. And right now, we need people around.

Realism

Mojácar has bad communications compared to other resorts. That’s its single biggest failure in the winter.

To get here, this week, now, unless you’re coming in from Gatwick, you have to fly to either Murcía (1,1 hours away, and a 12,35€ toll both ways) or Granada (over two hours).

A rentacar is necessary. It’s not impossible, it’s just that for a weekend break you have to have a reason to come to Mojácar, otherwise you hop on the redeye to Benidorm or Benálmadena or whereever for an all inclusive.

So, let’s market Mojácar to people who have a reason to come.

Get people who live here to encourage friends and family to come out to visit.

Get the local townhalls to sponsor an airport bus twice a week so they don’t need to rent cars.

Get Albox involved and cut costs by marketing both places at once.

And don’t just market Mojácar. Market the region. It’s not just beaches, tell people. People don’t want beaches in Feb. Tell them about walking in the Cabrera mountains. Tell them about long sunny spring days on the coast. Encourage them to travel through the nearby mountains and see local villages, local people, local markets and experience a more laid back way of life. Think about why we fell in love with Almería, and communicate that love to others. They’ll come.

Ideas? I haven’t really thought the above thoughts out, just typed them as they ocurred to me. Use the comment form to let me know what you think.

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17 Replies to “Thoughts about promoting Mojácar”

  1. Long showers you have!!!

    As you know marketing and the Internet is something of a speciality of mine so if I can help ,et me know.

    I would say though that if you want a solution based on collaboration you need an offer based on collaboration as well. Sympathetic as we all are I doubt all EWN, The Reader and Spectrum FM audience are only interested in Mojacar.

  2. Which is why the region needs to be advertised, not just Mojácar.
    The Junta is promoting Almería as a destination, so we need to jump on that bandwagon and promote the area, rather than one town.
    It’s possible that the phrase “Mojacar, Almeria” will be more familiar than just “Mojacar” to many people.
    We can’t even use the Indalo symbol any more, as that’s now province wide.

  3. A chap just suggested to me that we get more cyclists out, bearing in mind that Rabobank (the Dutch team) keep coming out to practise.
    Apparantly this is a wonderful place for cycling. I know Chris had a buddy who was brining motorcyclists over for adventure trips?

  4. All very good points that should be expanded on, the with something like 3500 visits to the web site in four weeks and suggestions that we will achieve well over 10,000 visits. i would suggest most of these people have never heard of the Mojacar area and with the competition entrants from not only the uk but along the Spanish coast we are giving the area much needed positive exposure and welcome anyone who feels passionate about this area, to help.
    By attracting people to Mojacar the area benefits and i am the first to agree that we need to embrace all of the area,look at http://www.mojacarlife.com it talks about Mojacar and its immediate area

  5. A query to admin – there was another article written over the weekend about the AGEM dinner – `I went´but now it seems to have disappeared, has it been moved. Thank you

  6. The original post, a light hearted comment on my night at the ACEM dinner dance and experience with a large pothole on the paseo later on, was rapidly becoming a place for people to start expressing personal opinions on the role of the ACEM, which I didn’t really feel appropriate for this personal site. Quite a few overnight, I might add.
    Quite frankly I can’t be bothered to deal with moderating comments on the pros and cons of how the evening went. We all enjoyed bits, we all disliked bits, we all know I brought a TV in the charity auction when I already have two and nobody seemed interested in our side trip to the Felipe San Bernabe (delicious by the way).
    So I replaced the jaunty article with a more serious, albeit not 100% thought out piece, as the disclaimer says, about the merits of a business association in Mojácar, so that if people want to discuss ACEM they can, after due consideration of points raised, and if not, they can go off to a forum somewhere and let someone else deal with moderation issues – I’m too busy.
    That said – a number of issues I raised in the original post have been backed by other attendees. However, any important feedback I receive will be forwarded in confidence to the committee rather than posted on the web for the world to discuss, as I do not believe this site is an appropriate forum for that.
    If the ACEM want some help setting up a public forum for people to discuss life, Mojácar and the meaning of 42, I would be delighted to lend a hand in getting it ready for them, pro bono.

  7. I think the article is great and applaud all the efforts to revive the area. However, for me the “elephant in the room” is the fact that the area is overstocked with a lot of second rate businesses/restaurants etc. Mojacar sea front for example is a mess in every sense of the word although the Garrucha end is nicer.
    Also many of these are expat businesses, the town at my last count had nearly 20 banks!! No the wonder this country is such an economic mess.
    Basically there has got to be a big shake-out and a lot of pain in Spain b4 things get better. It’s Greece today but spain’s manana is on the way.

  8. Hola David.
    Escribo en español, en inglés no tengo facilidad, espero que tú y tus lectores podáis seguirme.
    Desde hace muchos años hemos estado pensando en Mojácar como un lugar para vivir y no solo para pasar unos días de vacaciones. Desde la Guía del levante Almeriense, que editamos desde hace ya 17 años, hemos tratado siempre de promocionar no solamente el sol y la playa, sino también la gastronomía, la arquitectura, la flora y la fauna, las tradiciones de la zona, en fin, lo que podríamos llamar la cultura del territorio.
    Y la verdad es que la sensación que tenemos es que no ha surtido mucho efecto, pues seguimos en el mismo punto que hace casi 20 años. Bien es cierto que en Mojácar vive mucha más gente que antes, sobre todo expatriados, pero sigue siendo un lugar fantasma en invierno, y este año aun más, mientras que en verano se ve desbordada por la cantidad de gente que coïncide unos pocos días.
    Yo creo que el problema principal es que aquí no hay trabajo estable, no se produce nada, no se fabrica nada, solo servicios turísticos, y creo que de eso no puede vivir un pueblo ni una comarca.
    La nueva asociación de comerciantes de Mojácar tendrá que intentar unirse a las de las otras poblaciones del Levante Almeriense para tratar de crear algún tipo de tejido económico que no dependa exclusivamente de los servicios, todos no podemos ser camareros.
    Un saludo y gracias por tu blog.

  9. Hola Jacobo, con su permiso traduzco su comentario al inglés para mis lectores.
    —-English translation of Jacobo’s comment:
    From may years ago we have thought of Mojacar as a place to live in, and not just a place to spend a few days holiday. From the Guia del Levante Almeriense, which I have edited for the past 17 years, we have always tried to promote not just the sun and the beach, but also the gastronomy, architecture, flora, fauna, traditions… what you might call the culture of the province.
    And the truth is that I have the sensation that this has not had much effect, as we are in the same position as we were 20 years ago. Well, it´s true a lot more people live in Mojacar now, mainly expats, but it´s still a ghost town in the winter and this year more than ever, although in summer the place is packed with people who meet for just a few days.
    I think the main problem is that here there is no stable work, nothing is produced, just tourism services, and I don´t think either a village or a province can live from that.
    This new association will have to try to work with other villages in the Levante to try to create some sort of economic infrastructure that does not depend just on tourism, we cannot all be waiters.
    Saludos and thanks for the blog.

  10. Pues Jacobo, estoy contigo. Hace falta darse cuenta que aquí no hay industria, no hay trabajo. Si uno no quiere trabajar de albañíl, del real estate, de la hostelería o de los servicios asociados, ¿de que viven?
    Identificado el problema, ¿como lo solucionamos sin destruir nuestra provincia?
    Nuestra querida Junta ha sugerido crear una cuidad “turistica”, la conocida Llano Central, como solución. Si esto proceda, y procederá, entonces tendremos que acostumbranos a vivir en una provincia muy distinta a la actual.
    Incluso diria yo que el cambio será tan grande como la que ha experimentado Almería del 1980 / 2010, otra vez.
    ————————–translation
    Well Jacobo, I’m with you. We must understand that there is no industry here, no work. If you don’t want to work as a builder, in real estate, catering or something similar, how do you live?
    That said, how do we fix the problem with destroying our province?
    Our beloved Junta has announced the creation of a new tourism city, the Llano Central, as the solution. If this goes ahead -it will- then we will have to live in a very different province from the one we live in now.
    I would go so far as to suggest that the next few years will bring a big a change to Almería, as it lived through in the 1980/2010 period, again.

  11. Desde luego, el tema crucial en este momento es el del Llano Central, pero habrá que ver si se desarrolla, yo no lo tengo tan claro.
    A mi modo de ver, nuestra región no necesita en este momento una ciudad nueva, sino más bien aprovechar las que ya tiene. El turismo de sol y playa es cada vez menos interesante, y las nuevas tendencias turísticas van más en la dirección de encontrar lugares con vida propia, y no lugares que permanecen abandonados durante todo el año para convertirse en parque temáticos unas pocas semanas al año..
    Una de las oportunidades más importantes y decisivas va a ser la llegada del AVE, porque alterará las relaciones con ciudades que hoy se encuentran muy lejos y que se convertirán en barrios, pero para aprovechar esa oportunidad habrá que tomar iniciativas que permitan crear un tejido económico coherente. (ver más sobre este tema en http://www.zonalevantealmeriense.com).
    Y para crear trabajo, no queda más remedio que ser competitivos, que a las nuevas empresas que van a crear actividades con futuro les interese instalarse aquí, en dónde tenemos mucho que ofrecer, pero nos faltan buenos servicios, infraestructuras, etc …
    Gracias por tu traducción, David, creo que es bueno que estemos conectados ingleses y españoles y otros nacionalidades con intereses comunes, porque vienen tiempos en los que o actuamos o perderemos definitivamente el tren.
    Un saludo

  12. Hi DAvid, Hi Jacobo,
    thank you for your blog.
    You are right in a lot of points.
    The ACEM tries to walk before they want to run. Off course the whole area has to be promoted, and off course the other Associations have to be involved, first contacts have been made a few weeks ago. The ACEM joined meeting with the Mayors of the area to contribute working on the plans to activate tourism. All takes time.
    We are registered and officially operating since DECEMBER 2009. I am pleased that you all think we found the magic wand, I wish we had. We wanted to be far more ahead, but time again….
    We had already contact with Jacobo to plan a forum/meeting in Mojacar to raise ideas for the Llano Central etc., all this is on the way.
    Apart from that we all try to run our own businesses and be active in our spare time. Believe me lots of us put a lot of effort into this.
    Money is always needed, but at this stage we need people roling up their sleeves and start working, thinking planning. We need constructive critics and help.
    We are well aware of the danger of political influence, we have to stay away from this, especially as everybody is undertaking that any iniciative has political background anyway.
    We might loose the battle, but at least we are batteling.
    Karin

  13. Hi Karin,
    Yes you are battling and it’s great to see that someone is.
    So you are in contact with the mancomunidad?
    I think an important thing the ACEM should be doing, right now, is attempting to ensure that IBI and local rates on businesses do not go up too much as councils plan their 2010 budget – certainly, intramunicipal taxes like rubbish or water (mancomunidad again).
    I was going to say something about PlanE funding, but I just noticed the application date was Feb, not Mar as I thought.

  14. Por cierto,
    estoy totalmente de acuerdo con David en que es condición imprescindible para que la ACEM tenga un funcionamiento correcto tiene que estar alejado de cualquier posicionamiento político, tiene que tratarse de una entidad civil, de los ciudadanos, de las personas.
    Y también en que de momento lo importante es empezar a hacer algo.
    Saludos.

  15. Yes, we are in contact with the mancomunidad. The mayor of Huercal Overa is a good team player, so is Turre. Lets see if there are possibilities to do things, like bicicle tours, senderismo (walking)….a broschure of the mancomunidad offering activities. Some things have been talked about, but it has to be agreed by so many people it might take a while. Ideas have to be focused and checked out.

  16. Turre townhall helpful? First for everything, I suppose. Let me know if you need any help in LG.

  17. Pingback: Does Business Move Too Slowly? | A Life In Spain: Blog & Forum about living in Spain

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