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Durango marketing gold: A good word

STEVE LEWIS/Durango Herald

Trisha Kellogg, marketing director for Trinity Innovative Group, the operator of Sunshine Gardens, says the business spends about 7 to 8 percent of gross revenue each month on advertising. However, the key to getting the word out in Durango and Southwest Colorado is “to have a relationship with the community.”

By Jordyn Dahl Herald staff writer

Any fan of AMC’s Mad Men can tell you that advertising is a cutthroat industry of big bucks and flashy slogans, and even small-town Durango’s local businesses must constantly battle to adapt their advertising strategies to meet the needs of the digital age and attract new customers.

But in a world often dominated by coupons, commercials and online metrics, Durango’s advertising experts and business owners say that in this town, a personal touch can mean the difference between survival and shuttering the business.

“Everything here is more word of mouth, said Louise Garnett – owner of Grow by Design, a local business that focuses on helping other businesses grow through marketing. “The smaller environment allows for a personal touch, which is what is important in the Durango community.”

That, and a little bit of strategy.

Garnett recently put on a workshop “Measurement for Effective Marketing” through the Southwest Colorado Small Business Development Center to help local businesses better focus on measuring their marketing efforts. Although she’s adamant that a personal touch is most important for Durango businesses, smart advertising strategies can go a long way to pulling in extra business.

“Businesses need to be more diligent about measuring their marketing efforts. You can’t know if it is effective or not if you don’t measure it.”

Greg Fryback – advertising manager of Boomers and Seniors magazine – attended the workshop to help businesses that advertise in the publication come up with ways to most effectively spend their advertising dollars.

“They support the paper, and of course we want them to be successful, so we’re working with them to monitor the results as much as possible,” Fryback said.

Advertising in the magazine costs anywhere from $90 to $1,100, but the publication is sold at more than 1,000 distribution points for a month, Fryback said.

Some of the businesses will send coupons or ask customers to mention the ad to get the deal, but many of them found that customers would forget the coupon or forget to mention the deal to get the discount.

That strategy has been a huge success for Gazpacho’s New Mexican Restaurant, though.

The restaurant gets five to 10 people a day for the first month after a coupon goes out in the mail, said owner Matt Arias.

Businesses should be spending about 3 to 10 percent of their revenue on marketing, depending on the industry, Garnett said.

The Mexican cantina can also be found on social-media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, and that has been effective. The trick is finding the time balance between learning new technologies and running the business, Arias said.

“It’s kind of fun to play with it and have customers come in and respond to something you posted on Facebook,” he said. “But you have to pay attention to organic advertising like word-of-mouth and the relationships you have. In a small town, it’s really important to focus on that and not get totally caught up in Facebook.”

Relationships have been the key for Sunshine Gardens, said Trisha Kellogg, marketing director for Trinity Innovative Group.

“Being a part of the community is the biggest thing for us to do. In order to be successful in Durango, you have to have a relationship with the community,” she said. “The attitude here is: How can we work together and be mutually beneficial.”

Kellogg said she has relationships with long-term care facilities in Cortez and Pagosa Springs, and she will call them if she thinks a potential client may be a better fit at their facilities.

Sunshine Gardens diligently tracks their marketing by accounting for where every inquiry came from, and the assisted-living facility maintains a Google analytics account to see who is searching for them, Kellogg said. They also have a survey online that people can take to tell the business how they found it.

The business spends about 7 to 8 percent of its gross revenue each month on advertising, Kellogg said.

But the most important aspect of the facility’s advertising is still word-of-mouth, she said.


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