Existential psychologist, Rollo May is credited with saying Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing.
On a social level, that’s easy enough to understand but I’ve keen to see this applied at an economic level, within the business communities of our regional cities and towns.
Having just spent four days over the past two months in the far west NSW community of Cobar – three hours west of Dubbo and four hours east of Broken Hill – I’ve had the opportunity to look at how the local business community is operating in the digital space and whether it’s reflecting their physical presence in town.
I was invited to Cobar by the local business association, keen to offer digital marketing training and coaching to interested businesses and organisations.
Secretary of the Cobar Business Association, Angela Shepherd, had a chat with me about where she saw the gaps and what she was hoping the workshops and coaching might address.
Why was digital marketing considered an important area to address by the Cobar Business Association?
The business climate had slowed down this year, in line with a slowdown in the mining industry. We felt it was an opportunity to get businesses to focus on the marketing side of their business.
Digital marketing provides an opportunity to market to customers outside of Cobar, broadening the customer base, which is really important as people are leaving town, leading to a loss of employment. The Association also felt it was an area under-utilised by businesses.
What were you hoping for as an outcome from the program?
For businesses to understand the importance of including digital marketing as part of their marketing strategy. To understand the links between different digital platforms, and how they all work together, and for businesses to better understand the important factors to consider when embarking on a digital marketing strategy.
It’s not good enough to have a webpage or Facebook presence without really understanding how to get the most out them.
How do you think those businesses who were involved responded to the opportunity to have training and coaching in digital marketing?
With enthusiasm! The businesses who took part were interested in learning about how to improve the presence they already have. Participants have gone away thinking through ideas, not just for their own business, but how businesses in Cobar can work together to support each other, which is really important.
Working together strengthens the whole business sector, reducing the flow of funds out of Cobar. We want strong local businesses as they not only provide employment opportunities, but they’re the ones who support our community and sporting groups.
Strong businesses mean people are living locally and enjoying our great town.
Where do think they’ll take this information in terms of further developing their businesses and for the business community as a whole?
There is enthusiasm to use the information to better plan and market local events and activities through the Business Association and Cobar Shire Council.
The tools they’ve learned about and the ideas the group came up with will be used to develop a better strategy to engage with the community and promote and coordinate what is happening in Cobar, which is exciting.
There are definitely a number of businesses who are starting to work together to promote each other and hopefully this is something we can continue to build on once we can start demonstrating the benefits to the wider business community.
It’s an exciting time for the Cobar business community.
For information about how the Social Media Matters digital marketing program of training and coaching might be of benefit to your community, contact us or talk to Kim directly on 0419 439 923.