The real questions are: For how long? And, how much will it cost us? Oxford Economics, of Oxford University, produced a report for the U.S. Travel Association. This is just some of what they determined:
- The cost to U.S. coastal economies may be $22.7 billion over 3 years
- The impact on Florida alone may be as high as $18.6 billion over 3 years
- A critical part of the recovery strategy is a robust communications and marketing plan – they recommend $500 million be spent in marketing spending
This is the battle we face. How do we combat these misperceptions that have been perpetuated by the national media? Our Visitors and Convention Bureaus have neither the money nor the staff to fight the battle at the level indicated by Oxford. BP has already begun their song and dance to avoid paying those people whose lives they have so critically impacted. In the absence of $500 million, what can be done? What can we do to dispel these misperceptions?
On September 28, the Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce (in conjunction with the Fort Myers News-Press) will roll out a campaign to allow all of us to do our part. The SEE YOU IN THE SAND campaign has one objective – to create one unified, common theme to let people know that our beaches are pristine. This is one campaign, not defined by county lines but by the needs of a region. Think of the campaign as a twenty-first century, grass-roots campaign – with one significant change. Instead of sitting in campaign headquarters, stuffing envelopes and making phone calls, you will be able to campaign for the cause from the comfort of your home, your office – or maybe even from the beach. How?
Every time you send out an e-mail, send the message – See You in the Sand – through the use of digital banners, digital flyers and links. Every time someone comes to your website, give them a link to www.seeyouinthesand.com – the website we are currently developing. Give them a link to the webcams located on Marco’s Crescent Beach or on Fort Myers Beach. If you “send” items in the traditional sense, and you want to implement a “traditional” grass-roots campaign, put a See You in the Sand flyer in the mailing. Imagine, if we can get 250, 500, 1,000 people – or more – involved in this campaign – how many people can we reach? And that is just the start…let’s get the kids involved – Facebook – Twitter. The communication methods of today’s youth are the perfect 21st Century avenues to get the message out. Anyone with a Facebook page can post their status and ask for all their friends to re-post it. You can “tweet” your status and have it “re-tweeted.” Combine these efforts and we can take the message “viral.” In this electronic world, we can take the message to the world. At virtually NO COST to any of us. How will this all work?
Here’s what we propose to do at the breakfast meeting on September 28:
- Introduce you to the entire See You in the Sand campaign
- Provide you with all of the “digital” tools – banners, flyers, links – you need
- Show you the various options of implementing those tools
Here’s what we are asking of all of you:
- Come to the meeting on September 28
- Absorb and buy into the message of the See You in the Sand campaign
- Take the tools and utilize them to convey the message
Who has already bought in? The Boards of Directors of both the Chamber of Commerce and the Association of Realtors have unanimously voted to support this campaign. The local papers have agreed to publicize the campaign with the goal being to get all of you to the roll-out – so you can all get the message out to the world. So, in addition to the members of these organizations, we need all of the businesses, civic and social groups to get involved. We need parents and children to get involved. We need everyone to get involved.
In the weeks leading up to the roll-out, you will see articles, ads, and e-mail blasts reminding you about the campaign. You may even see coverage through the TV Media. You will need to RSVP for the event – either by calling the Chamber office or on the website – www.seeyouinthesand.com.
Like any “grass-roots” campaign, this will only work if people get involved. We all need to get involved. We invite our friends and neighbors from “over-the-bridge” to join us. Together, we can:
- Create BRANDING through a unified message
- Diminish the misperceptions of the world outside of our region
- Create a positive regional image for Marco Island
- Bring people to Marco Island and south west Florida to – stay, shop, eat, invest & live
But…we have to do it together. Here’s hoping we…See You in the Sand…