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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.