The Marketing Subcommittee met on Friday, October 18, 2019, in Room 3 at the Coronado Community Center. Committee members in attendance were Chairman, Pam Avila, Vice-chairman, Dan Aylward, Secretary, Nancy Ornelas, Chuck Miller, and Diane Bielanski. Board Member, Buddy Dixon, represented the HSVPOA Board and Chief Member Experience Officer, Jamie Caperton, represented staff. Okey Bess, Chairman of the Golf Committee’s Marketing Subcommittee, also was in attendance. Absent was Ray Lehman (out of town) and Chuck Alvord (sick). Press: Joe Dowden, videographer and Lewis Delavan, Village Voice. Guests were: Marcy Mermel, Maxine Klein, and Melinda Alvord. To view the full meeting, please see the YouTube video posted at the bottom of this article.
According to Avila, the goal of the meeting was to complete the data-gathering and fact-finding they have been doing regarding Village marketing efforts. (More on this below.)
Caperton gave a presentation on Ghidotti Marketing
Even though the current three-year contract between HSVPOA and Ghidotti expires at the end of this year, the reason for the presentation was that we need to understand what has transpired and how effective it has or has not been.
Staff felt the marketing program in place was not making us “stand out” as a whole. Caperton said, “Staff was also not taking full advantage of all of the lead generations that were available to us through all of the systems, nor were we collecting all of the data.”
Ghidotti was advised of our primary target audience and made recommendations based on what fits that data point.
The place to live your dreams
Ex-board Member Marcy Mermel said her assignment in the April 2018 Governance Committee meeting was to finish the mission, vision, tagline and values.
“The place to live your dreams” is our tagline.
Aylward asked if there was any research done to determine the effectiveness of this tagline.
Caperton said, “I would say no, because we haven’t had anybody doing that kind of research for the Village on anything.”
This was not tested. Aylward said this should have been tested and we need to do this in the future.
An alternative tagline suggested by Ornelas was, “Hot Springs Village…don’t just dream it…live it!”
According to Caperton, our advertisements have not been consistent regarding colors, etc.
Caperton said, “At least we have some nice ads. But again, we are not consistent in what we are doing or our colors or anything like that…”
Caperton says the ads using turquoise and bright green are our branding colors. Burnt red was also part of our branding message.
Aylward asked how many shirts have we sold in the past year. Caperton said a lot of them are going out through golf.
Caperton said, “We are beginning to do specific things for specific amenities so that if we are working a pickleball convention, we would have something specific for that particular thing. Golf has always been the easy one.” We want to showcase all the amenities and not just golf.
Caperton said, “The issue we have had in the past is that marketing has been done in all the different departments… We didn’t have a coordinated effort from the staff…so we didn’t do it as well as we should have done it.”
Caperton explained, “Now bringing it all into one department, our intent is to make sure that our calendar (singular), our approach to all of our sales and marketing is singular, our support sales of the properties is singular and that we know what all is going on out there and that we can monitor it. We can market. We can benchmark it. We can do all that.”
Caperton further explained that our marketing efforts need to be one singular voice with the same branding and messaging.
We have brochures distributed in eight (8) welcome centers across Arkansas. We are delivering to Chambers of Commerce and working with the state of Arkansas.
Marketing Subcommittee was not provided requested information
At approximately 45:49 in the video, Dan Aylward, Vice-Chair of the Marketing Subcommittee, asked Chief Member Experience Officer, Jamie Caperton about information the Marketing Subcommittee requested from the POA. The committee needed this information in order to make an informed recommendation. Management did not provide all the answers to the Subcommittee’s questions. Caperton stated that some of the questions were answered in the presentation and the rest would be answered when they went through the RFP process.
Caperton stated, “They did not want to burn up any more time or our funding to go through the process of answering the questions, so they elected not to do that at this point.”
Chairman of the Marketing Subcommittee, Pam Avila, said that this was very concerning as a lot of the questions were concerning what was done (marketing-wise) in the last couple of years. Avila stated, “For us to make recommendations, even for you, from where you sit, to be able to make sound recommendations, we need to know what has worked and what hasn’t worked. And they’re not being willing to answer those, puts us in a very awkward situation.”
Aylward said, “And it is kind of a silly argument because it is their opportunity to present their best side.”
Update on hiring for new Marketing Manager position
Avila asked about the status of hiring for the new marketing position. “Has the budget gotten in the way of that?”
Caperton said, “The media has gotten in the way of that. I’ll put it that way. We have an offer out to a Communications/Marketing Manager. That is the title. But he has not yet accepted the position. Hopefully by next week, [sic] will let us know. He is waiting to research us a little further. I’ll put it that way.”
According to searchcio.techtarget, “SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats analysis) is a framework for identifying and analyzing the internal and external factors that can have an impact on the viability of a project, product, place or person.”
The SWOT analysis was done on:
- What are the Village attributes that are marketable?
- What are the detriments we have to overcome?
- What are the opportunities?
In other words, what are the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in marketing the Village?
- our dreams to reality
- attractive activities all in one place
- affordability – cost of living
- conveniently located
- largest gated community
- natural, serene (setting)
- low Assessments
- diverse population and diverse activities
- lack of overnight housing – no good accommodations
- Arkansas’s image
- no central gathering location
- no recycling program
- reliable, consistent highspeed broadband
- resident satisfaction with governance – trust
- marketing ineffective
- opportunity to market to those who currently have unappealing/unsatisfactory living conditions and higher cost of living
- communicate better to rebuild local and regional trust
- create metrics on our marketing
- opportunity to correct image
- economic downturn
- Village financial health
- passive marketing efforts
- negative comments
Preferred Realtors’ Program
HSVPOA sent out an invitation to individual real estate agents to meet and discuss the Preferred Realtors Program. Management has scheduled a brunch meeting on October 28, 2019, to discuss this program with Hot Springs Village real estate agents. This Preferred Realtors Program appears to be an alternative for the now-closed, Village Homes and Land.
These invitations were not sent to the real estate companies but instead were sent to each individual agent. This was done to make sure that all the agents knew about the program and that the program would include input from everyone involved.
Audience input and questions
Ex-Board Member, Marcy Mermel asks about the “Preferred Realtors’ Program.” She wanted to know if the realtors, themselves, were creating the new program.
Caperton said that HSVPOA is initiating the discussion because of the multiple incoming phone calls once it was announced that Village Homes and Land was closing. The term, “Preferred Realtors’ Program,” comes from Tellico Village. Tellico Village HOA, realtors, and builders all came together.
Mermel asked if the POA has checked into the legalities of this. Caperton replied, “We can check that.”
Mermel also asked about the HSV brand. Caperton, appearing to be uncomfortable with this question, said she did not have a “sentence for that right now.” The committee has all been asked to work on that. They want to get consistency.
Mermel said that in 2017 they were told that the four (4) marketing groups being used were all taken off contracts. These groups were Ghidotti, Sparkfire, Rendered and New Urban Connections. Mermel asked if Caperton was saying Ghidotti was still on retainer with us (after 2017)?
Caperton answered, “We still have a contract with them through the end of 2019. As of right now, we are not currently using their services. We’ve brought everything in house, at this moment in time. They don’t have anything left on their contract to fulfill.”
Mermel asked, “Are we paying them a monthly retainer?”
Caperton replied, “Not right now. What we are doing right now, and that is one of the reasons we wanted to get the RFP completed, especially before the end of year, so that we feel like we need to have a creative, an ad agency media, to support our marketing efforts. We want to get that defined as to what that gap is for us that is still missing and that we need to fulfill.”
Mermel asked, “My last question is, did you say that you hired the marketing person?”
Caperton stated, “I said that we have made an offer to someone. But they did not accept it.”
Mermel asked, “You are honing in on one person?”
Caperton stated, “We are honing in on a person, but they did not accept it.” [Please see above. A final decision about whether to accept this position was not made at the time of the meeting.]
Melinda Alvord feels it is a good idea to put the Explore the Village website link on every email. “If we all did that, a friend or somebody might click on it, and fall in love.”
Melinda Alvord also stated, “As a nongolfing Villager, I defy you to find anything other than the stuff they sell at Walmart sometimes that says, ‘Hot Springs Village’. I begged Tom Heffer…begged him, to get some gear because that seemed to be the only place you could buy it…” When are we going to get some nongolf gear that the rest of us might be interested in wearing?
Caperton asked Alvord to talk with Stacy Hoover about this issue.
Alvord also felt a Village-wide contest to design a positive t-shirt should be initiated.
Hot Springs Village, still the best place to live
Note from Cheryl: EVERY organization has strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. We have no more weaknesses and threats than any other organization or community. As a matter of fact, Hot Springs Village is a wonderful place to live, with so many strengths and opportunities. Only a few of these were mentioned here, due to time constraints.
Some individuals feel it is detrimental to post our weaknesses and threats on the web. We disagree. As mentioned, every community has these and sweeping them under the rug does nothing to solve the issues.
This is a problem with our organization. Management tends to try to hide things. In the spirit of transparency and honesty, it is always best to report and face the facts. Once all the facts, both good and bad are openly discussed, then we can work to lessen the negativity. Only then can the healing of the chasms in our community begin.
We feel this is where the efforts of this committee are leading. Open discussion of so many different marketing issues goes a long way in helping to heal our differences. Some of our past marketing mistakes were addressed and we appreciate this honest approach. Once issues are laid out on the table and discussed, only then can solutions be found. Honesty is how trust is built.
Thank you to all the committee members, Board Member, Buddy Dixon, and CMEO, Jamie Caperton, for your hard work in getting our marketing efforts on the right track.
We sense more optimism in the community in part, because of this mammoth ongoing effort of individuals such as these and appreciate their openness and transparency in discussing the issues.
By Cheryl Dowden, October 23, 2019