Published in Red Bluff Daily News
February 14, 2012
Branding and earmarks are useful for more than cattle management – they are essential to the creation of a robust tourism industry.
Now I’m not suggesting that local professionals go get tattoo’s and ear piercings, but that we get behind the professional examination and development of concepts to help develop the local tourist trade.
I was quite skeptical of the value of such an effort at first, seeing it as an opportunity for outsiders to get paid to tell us what we should already know.
That was until I read the “Assessment Findings and Suggestions Report – Tehama County, California -September, 2010″ prepared by Decision Development International (DDI) for the Red Bluff-Tehama Chamber of Commerce.
The assessment provides an unbiased overview of the county – how it is seen by a visitor.
It includes a review of local marketing efforts, signage, attractions, critical mass, retail mix, ease of getting around, customer service, visitor amenities such as parking and public washrooms, overall appeal, and the community’s ability to attract overnight visitors.
This nearly 100-page report is chocked full of observations, pictures, and concepts to attract and retain repeat visitors to our area and local businesses. DDI’s observations are from the perspective of important target audiences for the growth of our local economy, specifically well heeled travelers in search of new and exciting experiences worthy of an overnight or longer stay.
The authors astutely recommend that we promote activities, not just scenic vistas and ambiance. When people see others doing fun activities in a great setting, it’s easy for them to imagine themselves there too. Visitors don’t really care about boundaries – it doesn’t matter if they are in a specific region, county, district, city or town.
Consequently our prime locations such as historic downtown and scenic wonders are not principle lures, instead they are opportunities we must develop to produce the ambiance and activities they can provide.
While such a distinction may seem obvious it is not. Consider the movie “Field of Dreams,” where it isn’t the real estate that brings throngs of players and fans to the fields of Nebraska, it is the draw of well played baseball and the passion of the people involved.
Such is the value of the unique attributes of the North State with our robust agricultural and ranching industries, rich history, and wonderful outdoor attractions.
Efforts like the tasting rooms at Lucero and local vintners, the fruit stands and businesses along State Highway 99E, and Lassen National Park are great examples of experiences that bring people and money to our area.
More of the same is called for to highlight local ranching, fishing, hunting, hiking, river rafting, craftsmanship, and historical touring to name a few.
I highly recommend that anyone with an interest in the local economy and business development review this excellent report and get behind the proposal now on the table to grab the bull by the horns and build our own field of dreams.
Please take the time to consider DDI’s proposal for helping us do just that by examining the document entitled:
“Proposal for Tehama County, California – Tehama County Branding, Development & Marketing Action Plan – September, 2010. Both the assessment and proposal documents can be viewed at www.redbluffchamber.com. Pursuit of their proposal will provide Tehama County with a unique flexible plan and step-bystep guide to developing a strong county-wide umbrella brand (what we want to be known for); it includes product development action steps (what we need to do to “own” the brand) and a marketing plan (how to tell the world).
The plan will also provide a guide for brand development for the communities of Corning, Red Bluff, and Manton – their own unique focus under the countywide umbrella brand.
I suggest that Vina, Gerber, Tehama and Los Molinos be added to this list.
While one might wonder why we can’t just do the work ourselves, after some thought it is easy to understand we lack the objectivity and experience needed to come to do it in a timely fashion.
The passion of those with a stake in the outcome can be a liability instead of an essential force for advancement without tactful direction.
The chamber needs our involvement and support and they are worthy of funding from local businesses and our city and county commissioners because branding is good for business.
Richard Mazzucchi is a retired research engineer specializing in energy efficiency and renewable energy. He has travelled extensively and now makes his home in Los Molinos, where he is striving to manifest a sustainable and spiritual lifestyle and operate a babecue equipment and supply business. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.