Cooperation will reap all big rewards

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 22, 2001

The tourism professionals seated around the table were bright, focused and engaged. They had come together for an informal meeting to talk about marketing Natchez.

Each wanted to get the best buy for every dollar spent.

Better yet, they said, is the free advertising received from articles about Natchez written for travel publications. The upcoming National Geographic travel edition is a beautiful example.

Two pages of text – written by the well-known actor and Natchez supporter Gerald McRaney – and pictures made by a famous photographer – tout Natchez and its charms.

All the subscribers to National Geographic magazine will receive a copy of this, Laura Godfrey pointed out. All the magazine’s new subscribers will receive hardback copies as gifts.

Godfrey, who fills several positions with the Convention and Visitors Bureau, had organized the meeting. She is the primary grant writer seeking matching advertising dollars from the state tourism office.

Others at the meeting were John Saleeby of Natchez Pilgrimage Tours, Regina Charboneau of Monmouth, Renee Adams of Dunleith, Anne Stowers of the Chamber of Commerce, Tammi Mullins of the Downtown Development Association and Walter Tipton of the CVB. Several who had hoped to attend were not there, Godfrey said.

One by one, the colleagues ticked off preferences, goals and requirements for their participation in shared advertising. Godfrey, through the CVB and in partnership with the state, is able to double the dollars spent for tourism ads.

Still, dollars available from the CVB to put into the pot are limited. &uot;Since we’ve moved into the new visitors center, we’re printing five times the materials we used to, and that comes out of our advertising budget.&uot;

Adams wants to create a private pool of money, bringing more than just the big tourism players such as Dunleith, Natchez Pilgrimage Tours and Monmouth into the cooperative efforts.

Charboneau wants to know what efforts are being made in the Japanese and European markets.

Saleeby wants Natchez advertised in Southern Living magazine every month without fail. &uot;That’s what we’re after. That’s when the number of calls really go up.&uot;

Mullins suggested everyone who advertises – no matter where it is – might use the same Natchez logo, giving a consistent look that catches a potential visitor’s eye.

Stowers said that idea might be taken further, that is, to urge everyone to use the logo on event programs, letterheads and all the literature used by Natchez tourism and other businesses.

A magazine ad that costs $8,000 is expensive for one advertiser. Godfrey pointed out that working with the state, a group of four advertisers could pay $1,000 each. With the state matching the pooled $4,000, the otherwise out-of-reach ad is affordable.

Positive ideas, cooperative efforts that could reap benefits for all the town – it was a pleasure to see and hear. Seeing it become reality will be even better.

Joan Gandy is special projects director at The Democrat. Contact her at 445-3549 or by e-mail at joan.gandy@natchezdemocrat.com