Friday, March 27, 2009

Winnipeggers It's Time to Believe in Winnipeg

No matter if I'm talking with Winnipeg business owners, members of government or friends and family - Winnipeggers, for some reason, are their own worst enemies. Despite all the good this city offers to both business and families, Winnipeggers still believe our city is second-class to the rest of the nation. At least before people would run down Saskatchewan to make themselves feel better about living in Winnipeg; but even that's changed with the economic success that province has been experiencing. Even more than their success, what really makes the difference is the people.

Just look at Rider fans for example. No matter the importance of the game or time of year, they fill their stadium. They are known across the CFL as the most loyal fans, hence the term "Rider Pride." Blue Bombers fans?... we struggle to fill the stadium when we host a playoff game. We'd rather sit at home and watch the game while we complain about how awful the weather is outside.

For all these negative reasons and more, it was high time that the city started targeting the message of how good it is to live in Winnipeg. This is why it was encouraging to read that the Winnipeg Free Press and the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce plan to launch a new campaign to get the city to feel good about itself. Too often all marketing efforts are focused at drawing interest from tourism and relocation outside of Manitoba - but what's the point if when people get here we give them every reason to leave?

The "We Believe in Winnipeg" campaign will see a series of stories run over several months about Winnipeg successes, beginning on April 12. Says Dave Angus, Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce President, "The effort is not a marketing campaign. Winnipeg needs to get over its inferiority complex and do a better job of trumpeting its success stories."

Let's hope this doesn't fall on deaf ears. I know I go blue in the face sometimes defending what a good way of life we have here. Just like when you start to feel sick, if you convince yourself that the next day you're taking off work, and "whoa my head feels weird," you can literally will yourself into a state of illness. I think we've done the exact same thing in how we perceive our city. If you believe it sucks - it sucks.

Next time you feel the need to complain about the weather or the potholes or the mosquitoes, take a deep breath, punch yourself in the stomach, poke yourself in the eye - do something to condition yourself to instead focus on; the friendly people, the arts & cultural scene, clean air, whatever. And, like my Mom used to say "if you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all." That or move. I hear space is freeing up in Ontario and Alberta.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Start Living Campaign Relying on Old Media

The province of Manitoba has announced their newest campaign to try and attract relocation of Canadians to Winnipeg and other cities and towns in Manitoba. The Start Living campaign is a reworking of the provincial government's previous $3-million Spirited Energy promotion which was riddled with criticism for its limited results and community support.

$2-million dollars is being invested into television ads to run nationally promoting all the reasons to consider Manitoba as a place for people and businesses to relocate, along with newspaper ads targeting Southern Ontario created by Destination Winnipeg. What has yet to be mentioned is any investment towards marketing online.

Though I still feel traditional media can be of successful in creating interest in a product, service or destination - ultimately their shelf-life is limited. Once people see an ad and express interest, they look to the internet for further due diligence. A website is required to deliver the information, but there is more than just setting up a site to support traditional media. When marketed properly, it is your 24/7 salesperson driving interest and locating audiences, globally, who may not have seen or have access to the newspaper ads or t.v. spots.

Consider that every week the press is reporting the declining ad revenues in traditional media because of the change in habits in how people spend their leisure time. Marketing online carries two major advantages over traditional mass media:

1) it is measurable as you can physically see what people are typing in when they search to find things online and you can see how many people have visited a website - both keys to any marketing campaign and;

2) your message is more targeted, in that the person searching is already pre-qualified as interested in what they are searching for (ex. if you type in "great places to raise a family" its because you are looking to move); this also makes it more cost-efficient as opposed to mass media which sends a general message hoping people will be in the market when they come across it

All and all, the province is right when they say now is the time to be capitalizing on our economic stability to attract people and business to relocate. I would just hate to see the $2-million already invested yield the same poor results as Spirited Energy.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Canadian Museum For Human Rights Near It's Goal

The recent donations to the Canadian Museum For Human Rights prove that, despite hard economic times, businesses across Canada believe in the vision of Izzy Asper and the importance to the success of this international destination. The recent efforts by the Friends of the Canadian Museum For Human Rights, led by the endless energy of Gail Asper, has put the Museum only $2 million dollars shy of their goal to raise $105 million dollars from the private sector.

The Cardinal Foundation - created out of the good will of Tim Burt, CEO of Winnipeg business Cardinal Capital Management - has agreed to donate $100,000 over five years. Burt felt it was time his organization had more focus in their charitable donations going forward, despite the roughly 25 per cent decline in the firms assets over the past year.

The firm is encouraging employees and clients to get involved, noting the foundation is open to anybody at Cardinal Capital. They've even developed a financial incentive to volunteer-minded employees.

On a larger note, Graeme Sifton, President of The Carolyn Sifton Foundation, has made a $1 million dollar donation in honor of his late mother Nancy. The donation was motivated by the Museum's focus on educating youth to the importance of human rights.

Winnipeggers should be glowing as the Museum will bring both tourism dollars to Winnipeg, and a sense of pride in providing the world an architecturally stunning destination, focused on bridging people through our common rights as humans.