I had intended to write about your Chamber's big move to our new space next month, but something happened over the weekend, and I am so excited to have the opportunity to talk about it here.
Marketing rural communities is essential. We're more isolated than bigger cities — and we like it that way. But, that also means that we tend to trade the same dollars with each other repeatedly. That is unless we take our dollars outside of our community and spend them elsewhere. This is how you make your Chamber director very sad.
While bringing in visitors from the outside can be disruptive to our peaceful way of life, it is a guaranteed way of helping bolster the baseline wealth of a community - in one sweet shot!
You and I know the joy of rural living. A community that watches out for our kids together, quiet, peaceful streets, land that stretches as far as the eye can see, and small businesses that sponsor all kinds of teams and events that bring magic to our quaint culture.
Rural living is an exceptional and uniquely American experience that I am grateful to be living. You too? Well, then, you also know of the unique challenges of rural American life. Everybody knows your business. Family grudges can last for ages. And, you can schedule community events that overlap your neighboring towns' community events and end up causing a Facebook "kerfuffle" at midnight on a Sunday. Yeah, I've done that.
Let's talk about this overlap of events in rural communities.
Last week I was exchanging text messages with another Council Grove community member, and we were both apologizing to each other for missing the other's recent "things". . . events, sales, classes . . . we missed all the things.
We were overwhelmed with all our community and each other were offering. There aren't enough hours in the day to do and see it all in our area. And, this is so healthy. We, locals, can't get to everything, but the diversity of offerings to the outside world means we are a draw. We are a BIG draw.
Did you know that this weekend alone in our little Morris County, we have . . .
Dwight Rural Fire Department & Rescue Tractor Ride
The Gunfight on the Santa Fe Trail in CG
The Up The Creek Kayak Challenge at the Council Grove Marina
Morris County Hospital Foundation 5th Annual Disc Golf presented by Precision Anesthesia
Cowboy Entertainment Presented by Geff Dawson & Dawn, with special guest Cuz Garver at The Dealership Building
And, next door in Wabaunsee County, Warm Fuzzy: Volland paintings by Eric Sall
That's a whole lot! And, our population doesn't have the bandwidth to attend everything. But, if we market our offerings to the larger markets that neighbor our borders. Boom! We've achieved rural marketing magic . . . The One Tank Trip.
This weekend we aren't stepping on each other's toes — we are creating a one-tank trip for people in Wichita, Emporia, Kansas City, and more to come into Morris County. And, as residents, we have the delightful perk of choosing which events we want to attend right in our backyards.
Do you know what else is happening this weekend? The Country Stampede in Topeka. That big draw will inevitably take some of our residents out of town. Do we focus on that? No. Because, here, in the Flint Hills of Kansas, the tide is changing. We are no longer intimidated by others' offerings. We now know that the more, the merrier!
We have a growth mentality and understand the abundance of what's available in Kansas. We know that the more we give ourselves (businesses and events), the more we have to give.
My job here at the Chamber is to pull it all together and then shout from the Kansas roof-tops just how amazing we are.
The combination of our different community efforts is where the magic of marketing rural communities happens. So I encourage you to layer up the events, broaden the offerings, and join forces with neighboring communities.
The next time you're working hard to create an event in your community and you hear another event is being planned -- don't panic! Let's thank our lucky stars and market each other. We are doing exactly what we should to grow our economy, keep our culture thriving, support our small businesses, and ensure our way of life for generations.
What happened this weekend to prompt this positivity rant? Well, here at the Chamber, we did our yearly duty of scheduling Council Grove's city-wide sidewalk and yard sale. We combined these two events this year for higher impact, and we planned it on the same day as Dwight's massively fun Dwight Summerfest and the Morris County Open Youth Rodeo. And that's just what we know is happening on that date so far. What a great array of events to lure people in!
This plan was not well-received. And I understand why. It can feel so disheartening to "compete" suddenly when you've been planning something for five years! The Facebook comments from people with truly good intentions came flooding in. The people-pleaser in me yelled to myself — change the date! FAST!
The marketer in me said to slow down. Remember why we chose that day — combining event forces is a positive thing. Isn't that why our Council Grove businesses started up this #SecondSaturdaysCG thing? Because the more we offer, the more we have to entice.
I took my chill pill and headed to the Dwight Summerfest planning meeting on Monday night. My plan was simple : Make sure they knew I would change the date if that's what they felt was best.
So I rambled about rural marketing, why packing events together is good, and how we could work together to market and make all events successful. And in the end, we chose to keep the date and shout from those rooftops how amazing the weekend of August 6th will be in Morris County. We'll have stacks of Dwight Summerfest flyers for our yard sale and sidewalk sale participants to hand out. As we market and post about our city event, we'll mention these other events too.
We are making progress toward our community goals, and this will not be without bumps in the road and compromising. I'm willing to do it if you are!
Consider your Chamber's doors always open for discussing this stuff too. We are up for respectful conversations anytime — but please don't send us messages calling us "clueless young people that don't care about anyone else." Seriously? That does not make progress. Although at 43 years old, I'm flattered by the notion that I am a "young person."
Let us know about your events ASAP! Email information@CouncilGrove.com or send us a link to your event on Facebook. You can find us at @CouncilGroveKS. We’ll do everything we can to make them a success. We’re in this together.