Humboldt County Airport Trash Cans

Humboldt County Airport Trash Cans

Sometimes it takes an outsider to see the forest for the trees.

I had the extreme pleasure of speaking to the members of the Humboldt County Community & Economic Development association in Arcata, California. For those of you that haven’t made the trek out to Humboldt County – you should. Five hours north of San Francisco, by car, or a short forty-minute flight into a darling little airport transports you into one of the most entrepreneurial small towns I’ve ever visited.

Nestled among the Redwoods, Arcata and Eureka, California are home to businesses like Los Bagels, a Jewish-Mexican bagel shop and Fire & Light, a recycled glassware company. The community is teaming with creativity and innovation. But when it came to marketing their community, finding consensus hasn’t been easy.

What makes Humboldt County unique?

The fact is, Humboldt County is unlike any other place in the world for one single reason: the Redwoods. The air is cleaner than anywhere else in the country, the water is clear and pristine, the scenery, fog and rain are all part of what make the Redwoods, Humboldt County and everyone of their businesses unique. Finding, expressing and committing to your unique value in the marketplace is the only thing that builds a powerful brand and after two days of debate, I’m confident that Los Bagels is unique because the water their bagels are boiled in is the same water that makes the Redwoods grow… it’s magnificent.

A rising tide lifts all ships

The Arcata Theater Lounge in Humboldt County - I spoke in an old Movie Theater - What a great venue!

The Arcata Theater Lounge in Humboldt County - I spoke in an old Movie Theater - What a great venue!

Working together, each and every Humboldt County business can help tell their unique story in the context of the Redwoods and as result build the Humboldt Made brand. As the saying goes, “many hands make light work.” In that vein, I’ve put together a list of ten things everyone in Humboldt County needs to start doing today to help build their community’s brand:

  1. Create content once a week. Every business in Humboldt County should be publishing 300 – 500 words of content every week. The assignment is simple: express what makes your business unique in the context of the Redwood forest.
  2. Build a daily promotion routine. Every business owner/marketer should spend a minimum of fifteen minutes a day reading your Humboldt neighbor’s content. You should be promoting it on Facebook or Twitter, or even LinkedIn. You should be emailing it to your vendors and partners or clients and customers. Imagine if everyone in the community spent a small amount of time consuming and distributing your content?
  3. Connect your online content to the Humboldt Made brand. Immediately, every one of the businesses in Humboldt County should create a new webpage on their site, expressing their pride in being part of the Humboldt Made brand. Linking to (and expressing your enthusiasm for) not only the Humboldt Made site, but other businesses that your consumers might really enjoy learning about.
  4. Structure a Humboldt Made newsroom. Assign someone to be in charge of the content production and distribution process for the Humboldt Made website. You’ll need an Editor-in-Chief and a Managing Editor (one to measure the success of the platform and one to manage the mechanics of assigning and delivering content weekly.)
  5. Once a month, every business should write one article to be published on the Humboldt Made website. The Humboldt Made team should manage and assign broad themes (perhaps monthly) designed to build a clear understanding of the brands that make up Humboldt County. One month, the theme might be about “The Rivers” the next it might be about “The Fog.” Tell the rest of the world how your Redwoods personify your products and services.
  6. Build a promotional routine for your content. As you publish your content spend at least half an hour promoting it in four ways:
    1. Intrapersonal – post it on a ‘group’ in Facebook or Linked In. Find a group of digital influencers and prosumers that you are getting to know and spend sometime to understand what kind of content they consume. Post your content there.
    2. Interpersonal – write a personal email to at least three of your business contacts – make sure you make the content relevant to them.
    3. Broadcast – broadcast your content on any channels you participate on (Twitter, perhaps.)
    4. Direct Mail – if you have a customer database, send the content to a subset of your list. Help them understand that you’re story is what makes you unique.
  7. Get to know your audience. As a Humboldt business, seek out the influencers in your market. Read their content, comment on their blogs. Consume everything they create. If everyone in Humboldt picks their niche, you can build a very powerful set of content consumers.
  8. Build a finite universe on which you’re all going to participate. The Humboldt Made team must focus their efforts on helping to build a small online universe in which the entire community is participating. Are you all on Flickr, YouTube (or Vimeo), Facebook, Twitter? If so, make sure everyone knows how to use those platforms and ensure that active participation is part of your daily, weekly and monthly routines.
  9. Email someone else’s content to your customers, clients or friends once a month. Every month, pick a piece of content written by another business in Humboldt County and share it with your customers. This kind of cross-promotion helps reaffirm the fact that Humboldt Made is a bigger brand with unique values that extend across brands. It also helps introduce new products and services to other’s around the world.
  10. Embrace the Redwoods. No matter what else you believe makes Humboldt County unique, work creatively to bring it back to the Redwoods. Remember, the Redwoods are a gateway to a deeper brand relationship with an iconic natural element that no one in the world can take away from your community. Embrace it.

I’m eager to return to Humboldt County and only hope that the entire community can embrace the Redwoods and help everyone prosper by associating their unique business to the natural wonder and beauty of their community’s biggest (literally) asset.


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43 Responses to Even The Trash Cans Are (Fake) Redwood

  1. 10 Things The #Humboldt county team can do today to make an impact

  2. RT @TPLDrew: 10 Things The #Humboldt county team can do today to make an impact

  3. Great ideas, I know Venatore Media would love to work on content that is on an easily distributable platform. How about a monthly eZine called Humboldt Made, gorgeous photos of humboldt county and its products. We are very familiar with Magazine design. We could design a shell, manage, place and track content and generate links that would be easily emailed, tweeted or messaged throughout the digital universe.

    • Andrew Davis says:

      Thanks so much for the ideas! Your team at Venatore is really eager and talented. I think the best first step is to start writing some online content – you guys will be able to tell if the stuff is good enough to turn into a higher-end e-zine. But it’s a great idea!
      Keep up the great work!
      - Drew

  4. Gregg says:

    It was great to have you out and we’re all looking forward to your return. We’ll keep the power on this time.

  5. Check out Andrew Davis’ post about his recent visit to the Humboldt redwoods. #redwoods

  6. Todd Larsen says:

    Andrew–I really enjoyed your presentation to us last week. Great tips, hot new sites and info to check out. Thanks for supporting the Humboldt community with your great write up too!

  7. Thank you for such insightful, tangible, cutting edge ways we can each make our community and our economy stronger…everyone every day. You making the extremely fast moving–and overwhelming so I don’t know what to do–on line world of social media accessible and usable in powerful ways.

  8. Thanks for the great presentation Andrew. Did you get to drive through a beautiful redwood tree on your way down Route 101? Perhaps now you understand the “Redwood Curtain” just a bit more? Next time you visit Humboldt, I’m taking you Bigfoot hunting! Then we’ll go to Arcata for another delicious Sushi Bagel at Los Bagels.

    Thanks for all the inspiration!

    • Andrew Davis says:

      I ended up not seeing the One Log House or the Drive Thru Tree. The Thursday event didn’t end until 1:30 and I had a conference call at 2:00…. blah blah blah… needless to say I’ll have to come back! :)
      The sushi bagel is ingenious by the way!

      - Drew

  9. Cedar Reuben says:

    Andrew – It was great having you up here to visit us in the heart of the Redwood country. I really enjoyed your talk, which was both informative and triggered some powerful new thinking for me about ways to work in the online world. It was also genuinely entertaining!

    Which reminds me, did you get a chance to drive through the “Drive Through Tree” or see any other roadside attractions on your last day here?

    I’m already looking forward to your next visit and I expect to see you present on TED one of these days, I think you would be a natural.

    BTW, that’s not fake Redwood, it’s genuine imitation Redwood. Admittedly a subtle difference, but not insignificant for those who care about such things. Fortunately I’m not one of them, but you should be prepared for a heated exchange on the blogosphere about it, ala the $79 steak. Cheers!

    • Andrew Davis says:

      Hey Cedar,
      It was a real pleasure meeting you last week! Thanks so much for participating. You’re a tremendous value to the community and your executive leadership skills will come in handy helping to build a unique vision for the community at-large!

      I didn’t get to see the drive-through tree or the one log house. Our workshop went long and I ended up spending most of the day on conference calls, etc.

      Genuine imitation Redwood it is! No qualms from me! – Drew

  10. 10 Things The #Humboldt county team can do today to make an impact Thx @TPLDrew

  11. I attended last weeks conference as well and thought it was great, even if the lights went out! Gotta love Humboldt for all of its quirks.

    I loved the theme “A rising tide lifts all ships” and hope that the Humboldt Made, SBDC and others involved will keep that principle in mind, my business isn’t part of Humboldt Made – I am an online retailer of Fair Trade, Organic & Green Goods – some are made in Humboldt County, many are not – all embody the Humboldt mindset though and I would love to be part of this.

    The “rising tide” theory works for all businesses in Humboldt – B&B’s, restaurants, art galleries, manufacturers and other retailers like myself that could help in getting the word out, and would benefit even if our products aren’t manufactured as part of Humboldt Made – that means more revenue for HumCo, hopefully more jobs made and kept here. Keep that tide rising by getting everyone on board the boat!

    • Andrew Davis says:

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the event (lights or no lights.) I had a great time meeting the community members and I really believe that the more people involved with spreading the message the better it is for everyone!
      Go Humboldt!
      - Drew

  12. RT @NorthCoastSBDC: 10 Things The #Humboldt county team can do today to make an impact Thx @TPLDrew

  13. RT @TPLDrew: 10 Things The #Humboldt county team can do today to make an impact

  14. Dot says:

    I am really sorry I was unable to make the talk, and I love the ideas in this article. I write a lot, I post a lot and i am starting an e newsletter for my customers that I would love to have a section reserved for promoting other HumboldtMade products.
    Thanks for keeping us in the loop.

    • Andrew Davis says:

      I checked out your Facebook page. I think you could really benefit (as could everyone else) from showcasing one other Humboldt business every week even on Facebook!
      Keep up the great work and I look forward to your involvement!
      - Drew

      • Dot says:

        One thing we do is showcase one (or more) Humboldt stores that carry our soaps on our FB page on the days we make deliveries(every week or 2), by name and with a link to their website.
        One thing we like about making deliveries is driving through both State and County Redwood parks on the way in. I’d send a photo, but have no idea how to do it!

        • Andrew Davis says:

          That’s fantastic! I’d love to see some pictures of the places you drive and deliver to.
          Do you have a cell phone that takes pictures? Or a digital camera of any kind?
          If not, grab a cheap camera at the store and it’s pretty easy to even email photos to Facebook! :)
          - Drew

          • Dot says:

            I have digital no problem – but I imagine I then need to find your FB Page? I have never seen a photo link in comments, I suppose it is messages.

        • Andrew Davis says:

          I’d suggest that you start by setting up a account so you have a consistent place to post your photographs. That way you can send me (or even post) a link to your photos.
          Of course, you can post a photo on the facebook page and post a link to that as well.
          Don’t worry about sending it to me personally, sharing it even here is a great way to showcase what you’re doing.
          - Drew

  15. Thanks for moving the conversation!! We are looking forward to your next visit.

  16. John McClurg says:

    It was great meeting you. Natali and I enjoyed all three of your sessions. You were informative, dynamic and insightful. We came away excited and thinking about a lot of new possibilities. Next time you’re in Humboldt County we won’t “drive” through a Redwood Tree. We’ll have a meeting in one. Last time I was there we fit 25 kids and several adults inside. Now I bet you can’t do that in Boston.

    • Andrew Davis says:

      It was really nice to see a business leader like you at the Humboldt event. You’re a real guiding ‘light’ in the community and I only wish the best for the community! I’ll take you up on the Drive-Thru Tree Meeting! You certainly can’t do that in Boston!
      - Drew

  17. Emanuel Rose says:

    Andrew your talk and enthusiasm were inspirational and motivational in many ways. You have an amazing gift, thanks for sharing your insight and being a patient teacher. The prezi show and your authentic interpretation of the state of our Redwood marketing campaign were instructional and directive. I hope you are looking forward to receiving updates as we make progress implementing your suggestions. Thank you.

    • Andrew Davis says:

      It’s so important to have marketing professionals like you active in the Humboldt community. Thanks so much for taking the time to attend and to assist the community in solidifying their brand.
      Hopefully we’ll see you again soon!
      - Drew

  18. alex stillman says:

    Redwoods are seen from my Arcata Stay balcony in the Arcata’s Redwood Forest.

  19. @ TPLDrew Refreshing to have an out of towner’s perspective on attributes of Redwood Coast.

  20. Genevieve says:

    Andrew, thanks so much for summarizing your advice to us Humboldtians! I didn’t know about your talk until afterwards, when Alex Stillman told me about it. I love your advice to take back our community’s brand from marijuana and connect it to the one thing that is completely unique to us – living among these giant, ancient redwoods. I’ll certainly be connecting more of my gardening advice to the redwoods, and I’m looking forward to reconnecting with the redwoods that make our region such a pleasure to live in and visit. Beautiful, simple, elegant advice.

    • Andrew Davis says:

      It’s been my pleasure meeting and interacting with the Humbodlt County team! I’m honored to be involved.
      Humboldt is most certainly unique and I actually used your content as a great example of local content being created that should be leveraged socially to engage a wider audience.
      Keep up the great work@
      - Drew

  21. via @northcoastsbdc: Marketing ideas for #Humboldt peeps – connect our work to the redwoods! Thx @TPLDrew

  22. Genevieve says:

    Drew – I’m honored! I just need to bring the redwoods into my work more effectively, and make my support of other local businesses more regular. Love your ideas. -Gen

  23. Dot says:

    We ♥ #Humboldt #Redwoods. We drive through them every time we go to town.

  24. The CWT marketing team attended this writer’s presentation that took place in Arcata where our headquarters is…

  25. We enjoyed this presentation so much, Andrew! Thanks for all the great ideas, which just keep proliferating long after we heard you speak.

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