Marketing and Strategic Positioning
A Venturer shows a Cub Scout how to use a compass. Teaching Scouting skills to others is an important part of the Venturing advancement program.
One of the first councils to create and operate its own Web site, the Central New Jersey Council of Princeton, New Jersey, has excelled with marketing initiatives involving advanced technology as well as reaching a diverse target audience.
As technology committee chair Mark Meara explains, "Technology helps provide a strong foundation to reach out and do interactive collaboration with youth and parents." With this in mind, the committee has been instrumental in updating the council with current technology, including Web site redesign. Members first prioritized the council's technology needs and opportunities. They worked on quick implementation, conducting needs assessment and studying other Web sites. Visitors like the updated site, saying the dramatic changes give the site a more professional look and feel. The technology committee has also worked to support infrastructure for the council's monthly e-newsletter, which has served as a useful internal marketing tool.
Additionally, the strategic planning committee has prioritized marketing efforts toward the area's ethnically, socially, and economically diverse population. The council maximizes opportunities through events, diversity in leadership, targeted local media coverage, and brand enhancement.
The trail to Eagle often begins the moment a local council's marketing efforts make a family aware of Scouting in their community.
According to Anthony "Skip" Cimino, council vice president of marketing, the council's marketing and strategic positioning success is founded on the "synergy among the strategic plan, fund-raising, and marketing efforts to promote the purposes of Scouting." Marketing is often linked with fund-raising events, which both raise money and bring together people to better understand Scouting. As marketing committee member Tom Rosella comments, "The council reaches out to potential supporters through fund-raising functions. At events, we make sure there are educational booths, banners, video footage of camps, and Scouts present to speak about the organization. It all works together to promote Scouting--to tell what we're doing and why we're doing it." Through this strategy, as well as ensuring consistent messages and defining its audience, the council has successfully tapped into community segments previously untouched by local Scouting.
Community involvement triggers a wide range of opportunities for Scouts to learn and grow.
Cimino also attributes the council's success to its dedicated executive board and its nomination process. Because the New Brunswick and Central New Jersey area has grown significantly in Latino, Muslim, Asian-American, and African American populations, the council strives to represent diversity in board membership. Cimino remarks, "We look for key individuals within these respective communities who are willing to volunteer and provide gateways to those communities."
Other marketing gateways for the Central New Jersey Council have included local media: an urban radio station, print, and television. The radio station (WIMG-AM) in particular has dedicated much programming to Scouting promotion. The council is also establishing local branding through its new logo, which is a major element in the custom design of printed pieces.
JOHNNY MORRISAs Trenton, New Jersey's, No. 1 AM radio station, WIMG provides diverse programming to 500,000 listeners. And Scouting plays a part in broadcasts. DJs interview Eagle Scouts and council committee members, promote events, and feature African American Scouts in spots. Johnny Morris, WIMG chair and Central New Jersey Council Executive Board and marketing committee member, says it's important to inform people of Scouting--"It helps them believe in the youth."
Along with the council's innovative approaches, time and energy have also played a major role in marketing and strategic positioning. As marketing committee and board member Johnny Morris puts it, the successes of this national Quality Council are the culmination of "an ongoing effort for years--they didn't just happen in the past few days."
Long-term growth and development have also resulted from the marketing and strategic positioning success of the Chattahoochee Council of Columbus, Georgia. Driven by a strong executive board, the council has experienced extensive properties development and camping program growth. Also, the council focuses marketing efforts on its enormously popular annual two-day air show.
Attracting youth of all backgrounds requires that local councils maximize their opportunities to spread the word about Scouting.
Successful board-guided strategy demands an effective executive board, something the council ensures "through an expanded nomination process, including prospect cultivation, assignment to key positions, and efforts to keep members active," according to Scout Executive Trip Selman. The council recently increased board membership by 60 percent, and this growth has been quality growth. As Council President Edmund Glover, a 45-year Scouting veteran, explains, "The nominating committee reviews all existing board members and replaces those who aren't as active." When recruiting members, past Council President Chuck Hecht states, the committee "looks for the person who will at first tell you 'no.' This means they're busy--active--the kind of member you want. Many of our people drive over an hour to attend meetings." Hecht attributes this dedication to board members' "seeing results in the youth" and desiring to "give back to the community. They believe in standing for and doing the right things."
Effective board-driven strategic positioning has played a major role in the council's extensive properties development and camping program growth. Vice President of Properties George Jeter, dubbed by his colleagues as a visionary, has helped guide the council with the dream of making the Chattahoochee Scout Reservation "the finest camp east of the Mississippi." The reservation is dramatically expanding and is in large part the product of support from "people with a tradition in Scouting, either through themselves and/or their children. Scouting is an easy sell," Jeter says. Although this may be true, the council doesn't ease up on marketing efforts. In addition to publicizing camp development on its Web site, the council created extensive marketing brochures. "The council's also been sure to involve everyone in planning, from local Scouters to community leaders," Jeter adds.
CHATTAHOOCHEE SCOUT RESERVATIONThe Chattahoochee Scout Reservation attracts more than your typical camper. The 1,000-acre reservation boasts 20 miles of lake shoreline, multipurpose facilities for year-round use, a million-dollar dining hall, climbing tower, and more. These appealing features let the council market the property to schools, businesses, and other organizations for retreats and team-building experiences. An extensive brochure detailing the reservation's facilities and programs serves as a powerful marketing tool.
Council marketing initiatives don't stop with the camp. The council's annual Thunder in the Valley Air Show has proven to be "a good ways and means" for marketing Scouting, as Hecht describes it. "The show puts Scouting in front of 40,000-plus people" and has helped raise council income by 45 percent. Crowds are drawn by the show's aerobatics, parachute teams, flybys, and vintage aircraft displays. While there, attendees also see "Scouts Alley" unit displays featuring skills, activities, and accomplishments. The air show is promoted by a year-round marketing campaign that includes billboards, brochures, fliers, television commercials, and radio spots. As Hecht remarks, "Advertising for the show is plastered everywhere."
Hecht sums up the Chattahoochee Council's "success as the product of very good professionals who challenge each other positively; a dynamic, selfless volunteer leadership group that pulls in the same direction and is dedicated to the youth; and strategic efforts that step outside of the box."