Marketing the Right Products – David Twiggs

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I was speaking recently at the American Association of Retirement Communities national conference in Memphis about “Repositioning the Large Scale Community to be Relevant in Today’s Market” and was asked about effective marketing campaigns. Once you understand your market and have positioned your community to authentically serve relevant lifestyle options, there are some excellent media resources out there for marketing your community.    Ideal Living magazine as a great national example and Center for Carolina Living is a regional platform. However, I quickly turned our discussion to the much-overlooked fact that these media outlets can only convey the story you supply. Marketing can never make up for a product problem and many of our communities have a product problem.

 

If we continue to advertise a 25-year-old story, we will not be attractive to the coming markets. If we cannot actually deliver authentic and fulfilling lifestyle options relevant to today’s market, we will simply fall into irrelevance. The things that drew the people who moved to your community in the past do not motivate today’s market. Not only are we experiencing the change from silent generation to boomers, we are dealing with post recession value shifts and fragmented media.

 

Fixing a product problem is about finding the unique lifestyle options you can provide and creating those opportunities. I work in rural destination and resort style communities so I look at what markets I can develop in addition to the country club sports model that the original developer banked on. Notice, I said lifestyles in addition to, not replacing what we have. Nothing wrong with an element of the country club model but it better not be the only product you offer. The golf centric community market is saturated on all levels and price points but it can still be a strong part of your holistic lifestyle options. If a program you offer is no longer relevant, it will die a natural death. Who is building a new shuffleboard stadium? No one, they are  irrelevant. You had better have lifestyle options relevant to the coming market to attract new growth. We should protect the elements of our lifestyle we love and add complimentary lifestyle options that we can authentically provide. Be Unique. Generic and boring are well represented in the market. You are not trying to attract everyone only those who want your unique lifestyle.

 

For Hot Springs Village, I have developed a Master Plan Workbook in which we explore possible new lifestyle possibilities, housing typology, engagement brands and community branding. Notice this is titled a workbook not an engraved in stone plan. This is an ever changing document. We explore many ideas for lifestyle and community improvements. We don’t implement them all. Some fit some do not, but we are not afraid to explore all options and are daily improving our formally dated products. If you have a unique product, marketing is much easier. Getting picked out of a mass of similar communities is difficult and often leads to wasting our limited marketing dollars.

 

You are welcome to look at the current version of my Master Plan Work Book for HSV. Please remember it is an ongoing presentation piece so some details and all proprietary information such as market studies for housing, hotel, commercial and retail have been omitted. Each community is unique. You can’t simply copy someone else’s model. Look at your products, understand your market, and make sure your story is relevant before you invest your marketing dollars.

CLICK HERE FOR A PDF Masterplan Workbook 1221.2014 UPDATE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tjFZlnYuFQ

Adding Value is a Long Term Game – David Twiggs

 

I wanted to share the great news from Savannah Lakes Village in McCormick SC and talk a bit about pace.  Adding value to create authenticity and the ability to reposition a community does not happen overnight.   The technology project that allowed SLV to become ” High Tech, High Nature,”  a tag line Kirk Smith created back in 2010 when marketing director for SLV,  was developed over many years. Kirk caught on to this concept early and knew the value it would create.  During those years, Kirk and I continued to create other value added products such as the Savannah Lakes Rod and Gun Club,  the Outdoor Adventure Club, and the context brand of the Little River Blueway Outdoor Adventure Region.  We looked at alternative housing typology with smaller footprints and denser design.  In other words, we focused on creating the conditions for future investment.  We did this daily.  The work and value is cumulative.  From planning individual road signs to creating regional partnerships, it is all part of creating authentic value that will attract quality investment.  To the layman, an announcement comes out in a paper such as one below and the thought is how fortunate for them.  In reality it is the result of many years of hard work adding value.  Create the conditions and the investment will come.  Congratulations to Kirk and the SLV Team for having the drive and focus take the value to the marketplace.  Thanks to Bob Stockton for the article below.

 

Rod___Gun_Club_-_Savannah_Lakes_Village

New Developers Enter into Contract to Purchase
Resort Peninsula & Undeveloped Village Acreage

Savannah Lakes Village announced last week one of the most significant McCormick County economic development projects since the creation of the Village itself in the late 1980s.

Better Homes and Gardens’ (BH&G) CEO Tommy Stephenson, Joe Todd, BH&G director of new homes development, and their development team have entered into a comprehensive contract to acquire the existing Savannah Lakes Resort lodge, conference center, two townhomes, the lakefront restaurant, and other undeveloped land along Highway 378 and Holiday Road. The deal would also provide access for BH&G to acquire existing homesites located in Savannah Lakes Village to fuel new housing development programs.

“This investment and redevelopment will ignite visitation and home building programs here,” said Village Chief Operating Officer Kirk Smith. “The resort peninsula is a first impression to visitors coming into South Carolina from Georgia, and we are pleased with the potential of Better Homes & Gardens’ acquisition and reinvestment in these important amenities.

“The broad objective is to re-invest in the resort peninsula, lodge, conference center and restaurant to make it a welcoming entrance to the Village and the County of McCormick,” Smith said.

The strategic acquisitions of these assets are part of a larger development initiative to enhance the Village’s discovery and visitation programs and support both residential and commercial growth.

“We are bringing stability to the table,” said Todd. “All the amenities needed for a great community are in place here, but the most important Village asset is the people. We want to help Village residents to grow this community the way they want to see it grow.”

“Beyond the near-term purchase of the assets is a longer-term objective to create various residential and commercial assets for the Village to realize its full potential,” Smith said. “The first phase of the development project for just the resort peninsula, as envisioned by the developers, will represent a multi-million dollar investment.

“Our development partners share in our values of doing this right, while building a good relationship with Village and county residents. They are in it for more than economic benefit. The actions of all parties are to build confidence and trust,” he said.

Increasing evidence of the relationship is visible in new homes under construction: a Discovery Home on Martin Drive expected to be completed in late January; four new models, and three new spec homes under construction. BH&G has begun Village advertising in Augusta media and will announce major kick-off events — ribbon cuttings and open houses — when warmer spring temperatures occur.

Courtesy of the McCormick Messenger, Story by Bob Stockton (Parts Omitted)

 

Ouachita Rod and Gun Club Launch

Thanks to my Village Placemaking Team for helping me take the Ouachita Rod and Gun Club project from concept to startup in less than a year. Placemaking is more than just buildings; it is bringing people together to create a sense of belonging.

Rural Tourism Economic Development: Human Scale Sustainable Development and Placemaking

People helping themselves and their community with economic development through tourism. A great model for rural America.

Changing Destination Values: David Twiggs

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Who wants to be treated like a tourist?  We are now faced with creating and recreating destination communities to meet a new set of values that have rapidly shifted from the pre-recession model.  Perhaps it was the financial reality check that accelerated the already growing shift in values into the mainstream.  Many have shifted from seeking a tourist experience to wanting to feel belonging and experience self-discovery when we travel, invest in a second home or look for a quality place for retirement.

In 2009, Kurt Anderson began the conversation about a great reset in American values.  He and others speak of a “new frugality” that has resulted from values being shifted away from a consumption-based mentality. Conspicuous consumption has lost favor as a value proposition and is being replaced with a value for simple honest and authentic experience.

This includes a shift away from credit-based lifestyle, which will slow our traditional metrics for economic growth.  Those metrics do not clearly recognize the vitality that can come from formally marginalized places being rediscovered and appreciated.  It doesn’t directly show the benefit of the local shops, restaurants, cafes and services being supported by a shift from corporate destination tourism to destination community based tourism patterns.

When we speak of a value shift, it begs the question “from what.” Dr. Brene Brown (brenebrown.com,) speaks of moving away from a culture where being preoccupied, over scheduled and over connected has become a status symbol and into living wholeheartedly. Technology, industrialization and automation of tasks that formally were part of basic home economics has both created a lifestyle free of what many consider preindustrial “drudgery” but it has also a disconnected us from the basic human processes of thousands of years.

In the past many experiences were designed to allow us escape into artificial environments. Destinations today should seek to bring us into a different rhythm, show as another lifestyle point of view or seek to connect us to nature and the basic systems of being human. The common denominator in this value shift to more authentic experiences is a desire for greater understanding, physical and spiritual growth and renewal. For some this may be a place for adventure, meditation, or learning.  In looking at how to grow tourism or relocation in your community, don’t worry about trying to satisfy this vast array of potential interests, remember you are not trying to attract everyone, you want those visitors and new residents that appreciate the authentic subcultures of your community.  Be who you are. Be inclusive. Share your passion.

Changing Values Creating SC Tourism Opportunities

ImageI just got back from listening to SC Governor Nikki Haley, SCPRT Head Duane Parrish and Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt talk about where tourism and economic development are going in SC and I feel encouraged that these folks get it.  They understand that quality of place is essential in building sustainable livable communities that benefit from a strong tourism and traditional economies.  While they will continue to successfully recruit and retain the major economic drivers, they are also focusing on the undiscovered places in SC and how these small towns and unincorporated rural communities can also have tourism as an important economic driver. To take advantage of these opportunities, we must educate our local officials and business communities to understand how hospitality, tourism product development, traditional economic development and quality urban/rural planning design must be done in collaboration to build quality of place.

First we need to understand that we are now faced with creating and recreating destination communities to meet a new set of values that have rapidly shifted from the pre-recession model.  Perhaps it was the financial reality check that accelerated the already growing shift in values into the mainstream.  Many have shifted from seeking a tourist experience to wanting to feel belonging and experience self discovery when traveling.

In 2009, Kurt Anderson began the conversation about a great reset in American values.  He and others speak of a “new frugality” that has resulted from values being shifted away from a consumption-based mentality. Conspicuous consumption has lost favor as a value proposition and is being replaced with a value for simpler honest and authentic experience.  This includes a shift away from credit-based lifestyle, which may slow our traditional metrics for economic growth but those metrics do not clearly recognize the vitality that can come from formally marginalized places being rediscovered and appreciated.  It doesn’t directly show the benefit of the local shops, restaurants, cafes and services being supported by a shift from corporate destination tourism to destination community based tourism patterns.

When we speak of a value shift, it begs the question “from what.”  My favorite vulnerability expert, Dr. Brene Brown (brenebrown.com,) speaks of moving away from a culture where being preoccupied, over scheduled and over connected has become a status symbol and into a state of living wholeheartedly. Technological advances allowing industrialization and automation of tasks that formally were part of basic home economics has created a lifestyle free from much preindustrial “drudgery” but it has also a disconnected us from the basic human processes of thousands of years.  Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, described this as our losing the “craft of being a creature. “

In the past, many tourist experiences were designed to allow us escape into artificial environments. Destination communities now are asked to bring us into a different rhythm, show as another lifestyle point of view or seek to connect us to nature and the basic systems of being human. The common denominator in this value shift for a more authentic experience is a desire for greater understanding, physical and spiritual growth and renewal. For some this may be a place for adventure, meditation, or learning.  In looking at how to grow tourism in your community, understand it is not trying to be a Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head or Greenville. You are not trying to attract everyone, you want those visitors and new residents that appreciate the authentic culture of your community and only in numbers that allow you to keep a livable community with local prosperity.  Be who you are.

David Twiggs

Organic Destination Community Systems

Lodge at Santa Lucia Preserve
Lodge at Santa Lucia Preserve

 

A destination community is defined as a place that uses its quality of place to motivate economic growth, in-migration, tourism with the assurance of access to recreation, entertainment, and leisure opportunities that fall within their interests and values. There are as many definitions of theses needs as there are potential visitors.

 

This is not striving to become a pure destination. A destination can be a corporately manufactured monoculture such as a Disney or Vegas. These can be highly orchestrated and controlled artificial environments. These are not always the most livable of locations but are typically dominated by large corporations with the financial resources to control and draw a local or recruited workforce.  Who would want to live in a monoculture? Being a destination community is far more desirable from the residents and returning visitor point of view.

 

The question is what kind of destination community can you authentically be. What will protect values of the area and bring economic vibrancy.  Systems must remain authentic to the nature of the area while also keeping relevant with their chosen recreation subculture trends.  This allows systems to develop that are unique to the municipality or region the system is being designed for. The resulting destination must strive to deliver a triple bottom line: Economics – Conservation –Quality of Life.

David Twiggs

 

South Carolina’s Overlooked Economic Giant, Ian Sanchez

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The following is from our Charleston SC  friend, Ian Sanchez.  He is a high energy environmental educator and proponent of  sustainable tourism.  You can check him out at:

 

 

 

South Carolina’s Overlooked Economic Giant 

This giant is wide awake and active right through the recession.

South Carolina’s wealth has always been derived from her natural resources.  Rice, indigo, cotton and lumber created the wealthiest people in the North American colonies.  Then devastating wars, boll weevils, hurricanes, earthquakes and unfortunate circumstances changed the economic landscape.  Over the past 150 years, nature has reclaimed much of the state’s agricultural land and industrial pockets.  Now that she is again in control, her charming aesthetic qualities are creating a new kind of economic giant that is growing despite economic challenges. 

The outdoor recreation industry has contributed $646 billion dollars to the US economy and created over 6.1 million American jobs according to a 2012 report by the Outdoor Industry Association.  The significance of that is really driven home when one realizes the automotive, pharmaceutical and fuel industries each accounted for less than $360 billion and nearly half the number of jobs.

Back in 2009, the USC Moore School of Business produced a report showing the “Underappreciated Assets” clearly tied to South Carolina’s natural resources (not including agriculture), accounted for $30 billion dollars of the state’s economic output and was responsible for employing over 230,000 people.

These numbers show no signs of slowing down.

When the economic crash of 2008 happened, I called my friends in the outdoor industry and warned them: “You better plan to tighten up in the coming years.  This is going to be serious”.  When I spoke to Charlton Durant, a senior guide who had worked in various parts of the outdoor industry for over 30 years, he was calm.  He said the outdoor industry usually does well in a poor economy. 

He was right.

“Confluence Water Sports has prospered during the economic crisis over the last several years” said CEO Sue Rechner during our interview for the Outdoor Economy segment of SCETV’s The Big Picture in July of last year. 

Confluence Water Sports is the largest manufacturer of kayaks in the world and has been located in the upstate of South Carolina for over 30 years.

“99.6% of our products are manufactured right here in Greenville, South Carolina” Sue said. “We, as a company within this broader industry, spend over $5 million in the state of South Carolina to support our organization. We generate another $11 million in revenue by the goods and services we sell in South Carolina that turn into consumer purchases.  People who engage in outdoor activities continue to buy products, goods and services because it is the kind of lifestyle they like to celebrate.”

When the going gets tough, the tough go camping. 

“We are seeing more visitors who are driving here from as far away as Michigan,” said my friends Anne Goold and Scott Kennedy with Carolina Heritage Outfitters, which offers tree houses rentals, canoes and camping on the Edisto River in Canadys, SC.

Many new businesses that offer camping, hiking, biking, sailing and paddlesports have sprung up all over South Carolina. The outdoor industry as a whole has continued to grow 5% a year across the US since 2008. Why is South Carolina in such a great position to take advantage of the growth of the outdoor industry?

South Carolina is a leader in land conservation and historic preservation. The state is blessed with majestic landscapes and vast expanses of protected lands that support some of the most diverse wildlife in the world.

Wildlife viewing is one of the strongest segments of the outdoor economy with birders making up the largest group.  The film “The Big Year” featuring Jack Black and Steve Martin has inspired even more interest in feathered species.  South Carolina is located right on the Atlantic flyway where thousands of migratory birds pass through every year on their way back and forth from their breeding grounds.  Birders have reported seeing over “50 species in an afternoon” at wildlife refuges such as Cape Romain, Santee, Waccamaw and the ACE Basin.

Birds are just one example of the diverse wildlife that can be found in huge tracts of protected land in South Carolina’s county, state and national parks and wildlife refuges.  From elk and black bear in the mountains to alligators and dolphins on the coast, animals that require a wide range to survive still roam through the South Carolina wilderness. 

As habitats in other parts of the country continue to shrink back in the face of human development, South Carolina’s conservation areas will continue to grow in value and be a desirable destination for animals and nature enthusiasts alike. The protected swamps, rivers, lakes, mountains, forests, barriers islands and the creatures that inhabit them may serve as renewable fuel for South Carolina’s economy for years to come.

It does not seem to matter what happens on Wall Street. Wealth may once again be derived from the natural assets of South Carolina in a way that preserves them for future generations.

 

Some Sources:

 

Quality of Place for Destination

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A destination community is multi-faceted community focusing on the unique cultural and natural resources authentic to the area.  These are often centralized in a region of complementary values and resources. These can be metropolitan size areas, small towns or large-scale unincorporated communities.  They are typically natural resource or culturally based with a varied mixture of corporate and local entrepreneurial businesses.  The term destination community comes from the fact that these communities become a destination for visitors, in migration, and both tourism based and traditional economic growth.  It has independent relevance entailing far more than being a suburb or bedroom community for a larger area.  As community leaders, we must focus on building and protecting these destination communities.

Placemaking is obviously place based.  Our lives are intensely local.  The quality of the place we inhabit and the relationships it fosters are the greatest impacts to our quality of life.  We want to be a destination community for:

  • Livability and Belonging
  • Protection of Community Values
  • Business Growth Opportunities and Jobs
  • Controlled and Appropriate Growth

I believe that for several decades our local governments, particularly community planning, economic development, arts/recreation and tourism development functions, have suffered from a type of artificial dualism.  They have been taught to separate things that are inherently part of a single system.

What should these “departments” truly be focused on at their core?

  • Community Development – Creating and protecting “place” that is livable, sustainable and inherently satisfying.
  • Recreation and Arts– Filling “place” with opportunities for renewal, self-expression, physical and spiritual growth.
  • Tourism Development – Sharing “place” by way of hospitably allowing entry into the nature of community.
  • Economic Development – Attracting appropriate businesses that fit “place” and provides opportunities for local prosperity at all levels.

As community leaders, either elected, professional, or volunteer, our goal should be to break down these artificial separations.  Why did we decide to use our particular passions and skills to lead communities?  What is the ultimate goal?  There is a personal satisfaction in the multifaceted roles we must play. Our leadership skills are tested.  We are challenged to understand the politics, culture and values of the demographic we serve.  We grow and develop the people that we work with. Doing these things well has great satisfaction, but what is the bottom line need of our communities? I believe our purpose is to leave a legacy of place.

To build on some of my favorite architect Steve Mouzon’s concepts (original green.org,) we must build a legacy of places that are lovable, flexible, durable and frugal. In short, we must build relevant places; relevant to our unique vernacular of place.  As a destination community we are blessed to do this from a cultural/nature/heritage base geography.

Our community systems must be lovable so that our citizens and visitors will care. If the resources are not loved, they will not be relevant, valued or protected.  Flexible so we can meet present demands and meet future needs. Durable requires quality and timelessness so they will last. Frugal so our systems only use our resources at a pace we can sustain them.  This takes vision and a sustained effort towards that vision.  It takes systemic decision-making that brings the community closer to its values each day.  This should be ingrained in the organizational culture.

Lovable is a particular challenge in system creation.  So many communities, like people, seek to be someone different than who they are.  It must stem from innate and authentic values of place that the destination community holds but also must celebrate individualism within that value framework and foster belonging and acceptance.  People do not connect with a place where they feel a visitor; they become emotionally attached to a destination where they feel belonging.