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Promoting WCHA

Discussion in 'General WCHA Business' started by Norm Hein, Jul 9, 2019.

  1. Norm Hein

    Norm Hein Canoe Codger

    I am going to start promoting WCHA more in my area, Tennessee/Kentucky. So I have been searching through old threads about this to try and see what I can do to help. I have learned a lot from them and will try some of the suggestions. My son is 28 yrs old so I thought I would pick his brain and see what might catch a younger persons attention. He related that his crowd is all about branding. Patagonia, Yeti, Orvis,,, you get the picture. So there is the big picture of branding and then there is the micro picture. I want to talk about the micro. Meaning, just the merchandise side of it. Advertising that people pay us money for to advertise our Association for us. Hats, shirts, stickers and so on. I told him we have that and asked him to take a look at our online store and let me know his thoughts. Well after grounding him (I wish I still could) for saying negative (constructive) things about it I stepped back and took a look at what he was saying. Here are some of his observations.
    *Not near enough stuff.
    *The Logo although descriptive is not eye catching. Keep the old one but come up with a contemporary (for lack of better word) one.
    *Need more choices of stickers. Simpler logo. Stickers go on everything young folks have.
    *Need a wide variety of hats and shirts. Even if they don't buy (subscribe) what you sell they want to ware cool clothing that makes people think of them in a certain way.

    So there are a couple of conversation starters.
    By the way, I have worked with a couple of all volunteer organizations and I can easily say this is the best I have been associated with. So please don't take any of this as criticism of anyone's efforts. It's not.

    (Location undisclosed until I see the reaction of ones who read this)
  2. Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

    Your suggestions have merit, but since the store manager, eight of nine board members, and the executive director don't participate in the forums, your best bet is to forward your message directly to them. Email addresses are listed on the website and in the journal.
  3. OP
    Norm Hein

    Norm Hein Canoe Codger

    Thanks Dan. Will do.
  4. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    Great topic.
    OK, I'll kick the can down the road a piece. I ran $40m company and I did all of the my own marketing, web content, shows etc. I have a pretty good feel for how swag works, how to promote a product, an organization etc. I also have two sons that are pretty active and in their early thirties. They are probably right smack in the middle of the demographic that WCHA might wish to engage. They both paddle, climb, ski etc. Both own several canoes including ones they have built and they have started to buy wooden canoes. Both have adopted life styles that are not particularly fueled by work life....more so by life quality. Most of their friends have similar life styles. Several are outdoor guides (my older son) professional athletes. From what I can see they are all more anti logo and and anti trendy, much like I was when I was younger. They have pro-sponsorship deals that get them their gear for free and what they use and wear eventually might attract interest from other millenials that are attracted to "branding". Most important to them is made in the USA from good quality materials. They are not motivated to become marketing billboards. Less is more to their crowd.
    Point being, what your son tells you may be absolutely true for his crowd. But is his crowd the one that will be drawn to wooden canoes? Do they have the money and the storage to start squirrelling away 14 to 20 foot long "treasures"? My sons are pretty serious about canoes and canoeing but neither one of them have the storage space to keep a bunch of canoes. I have several of theirs squirrelled away here.
    Changing a logo, having more saleable swag stock might create a small wripple of interest with a few folks, but it does not solve the core issue. The demographic of interested paddlers is not what it once was. In the 70's we were riding a tide of interest in canoes and canoeing. Some of us took it to the extreme and became involved in the classic side of the craft..the wooden canoes. We bought them, restored them, built them. We still do that. While we were sitting around in our wool shirts admiring old wooden canoes a couple things happened. First, technology changed. Fiberglass and aluminum became kevlar and Royalex and poly. Canoes became kayaks, sit on, touring, dipsy doodlers and suddenly the canoe went from being the craft on every roof to the one that you rarely see. Canoes are no longer the lead dog on the sled. We got old and we got grey. Old and in the way. From my perspective the climate that made the WCHA the success that it became is no longer there to resurrect.
    If you don't believe me, take a look at Canoe related traffic on their site has fallen off dramatically. They survive because they have heavily commercialized...and they have a broadened to include kayaks and paddle boards. Take a look at all of the marked down merchandise... boodles of stuff that no one buys until it's on sale...or not at all.

    I love the WCHA logo. I understand how it came to be and what it is. I'm guessing that others feel the same. A logo won't fix what's ailing and changing one is more likely to alienate than drive any meaningful change.
    I was once was involved in changing a legacy (60 year) logo. We modernized and made it more "current". It took us two years to totally pi** off all of the traditionalists that liked the older one and the customers that we thought we could attract with a refreshed look told us that they really didn't care about the new logo, the old one was fine. They were focused on the products, not the splash.
    Your intentions are good and you should encourage the board to listen to your ideas. I hope that I am wrong in my opinion that the fix ain't there but having said that, this is not my first clambake. This one is a tough nut to crack. When the market moves away from you it's really tough to stay relevant.
  5. OP
    Norm Hein

    Norm Hein Canoe Codger

    Thanks for the response MGC.
    Let me clarify a couple of things first.
    1. I am just recently becoming active in WCHA. I have been a member for a while and a “stalker” before that. So only a few people are familiar with me. The written word is a funny thing. 5 different people can read the same thing and come away with five different options on what was written. When I write in this forum my intent is ALWAYS positive. If I say nothing that is because I think some one is being a butt. So please read everything I say as a positive thing.
    2nd. In no way do I or my son think the logo should be changed. What he and I were saying was it’s kind of like: General Motors Chevrolet Devision or CHEVY. Most companies have both.

    And I did not do a very good job of giving my sons demografics. I made it sound, by omition, that he was a 28 year old living in my basement playing video games. He is an avid outdoorsman, hunting, fly fishing, camping, hiking and of course canoeing. He and I have built 5 canoes together and he is now starting a wooden drift boat. He is a project manager for a large home building company, owns his own home and has a wife and child.

    I was not long ago like your sons, if something had a logo on it I would tear it off. No stickers no ball caps nothing. Now I use those types of things as conversation starters. And that is what I think could benefit WCHA with such items. They work (not for everyone) or companies would not have them.

    Thanks again for responding. I enjoyed reading your responses on this forum.
  6. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    My question is if more logo products are most likely to produce the best return on the investment? Given that the organization has exceptionally limited time and funds for advertising of any kind then we need to make every dollar and volunteer minute count. How about paying for more participation in shows, promotion in social media, or other ideas?

    Last edited: Jul 10, 2019
  7. Rob Stevens

    Rob Stevens Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    I have pondered how to raise the visibility, profile and membership of the WCHA for more than a decade. The Board tried 1 year free membership promotional with several like-minded partner groups (Canadian Canoe Museum, Camp Pathfinder, etc.) I don't think anything changed the slow decline of member numbers.

    As the person who has done much of the promotion of the Annual Assembly, I have also noticed some changes over the years. Many of these are related to the types of media that are prevalent. Many of the small community newspapers, whether daily, twice weekly or weekly have gone under. Either they have disappeared altogether, or they have been swallowed up by large media giants.

    On the positive side, finding like minded people is a lot easier with the advent of the Internet/World Wide Web. It is also much easier to promote the event (and therefore the organization) by postings to social media apps/platforms. Unfortunately, I only use Facebook, with some overlap onto YouTube, so we don't gain exposure on the many others, What's App, Instagram, QQ, QZone, Tumblr, etc. etc. My understanding is that the younger crowd don't use Facebook as much as more mature folks.

    Judging from the number of "Likes" and comments by viewers of WCHA promotional posts, we are gaining the attention of plenty of new people. Whether they will be sparked to join and/or attend is difficult to gauge.

    It seems clear to me that Local Chapters generate a lot of interest. Actually, some of the people involved in Local Chapters are not members of the "parent" organization, which is another quandary to ponder.
  8. OP
    Norm Hein

    Norm Hein Canoe Codger

    So where can a member go to see the numbers $$ for the Association? Maybe I need to understand the big picture more.
  9. Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

    Financials are published in the April issue of Wooden Canoe each year. The last journal mailing was to 1333 members.
  10. OP
    Norm Hein

    Norm Hein Canoe Codger

    Thanks I’ll look it up.
  11. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    The summary below may save you some trouble.


    Year Net Income Total Investments Membership
    2018 $ (12,907.59) $ 22,967.65 1390
    2017 $ (18,202.54) $ 43,690.89 1435
    2016 $ (11,175.68) $ 47,015.49 1466
    2015 $ 1,257.63 $ 43,885.26 1560
    2014 $ (6,490.98) $ 44,136.14 1605
    2013 $ (1,990.65) $ 41,221.70 1670
    2012 $ 5,538.18 $ 35,830.92 1810
    2011 $ (6,231.55) $ 28,661.41 1598
    2010 $ 1,510.89 $ 27,358.82 1624
    2009 $ 21,424.24 $ 24,144.60 1606
    2008 $ 4,044.45 $ 18,559.38 1685
    2007 $ 7,014.16 $ 14,962.89 1740
    2006 $ 5,321.42 $ 9,064.21 1799
    2005 $ 212.17 $ 10,241.67 1808
    2004 $ 13,821.74 $ 10,078.04 1838
    2003 $ 5,101.92 $ - 1735
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2019
  12. 1905Gerrish

    1905Gerrish Loves Old Maine canoes

    Dan brings up a good point. Why is that? I guess even if you call them out on this Dan it will not be seen! Participation is needed on all fronts to keep people active and interested. I once again thank Benson Gray for all his hard work and effort he puts forth on these forums and on social media.
  13. Dan Lindberg

    Dan Lindberg Ex Wood Hoarder


    I find this both amazing and very telling, as to me,
    far and away the most important and valuable benefit of being part of this org is the Web site.
    This might be because being in MN we're a long way from most of the members, but I think it has more to do with how information is gathered.
    I wouldn't even know about W/C or the WCHA without the web and internet, and I suspect this is not uncommon.

    I predict no change in the direction of the membership. (at least not without increased attention to the web site)


    [QUOTE="Dan Miller, :] but since the store manager, eight of nine board members, and the executive director don't participate in the forums,[/QUOTE]
  14. OP
    Norm Hein

    Norm Hein Canoe Codger

    Dan and Benson,
    Thanks for the information. That's a lot of hats to be sold........
  15. Fitz

    Fitz Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    As a recent board member, I assure you many of these ideas and issues have been mulled over by the board ad nauseam. There is obviously no easy fix.

    My son is 21 in a few days. He suggests that high quality videos on YouTube as a means to generate some interest and income might help. He may be on to something. With the advent of Smart TV's, network TV is rarely on in my household these days. Wooden canoe related material is slim on YouTube - at least for now.

    Keep the ideas coming.

    Last edited: Jul 10, 2019
  16. David Satter

    David Satter LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Ok, I've been thinking about doing this anyway. I do about 6 to 8 canoe restorations a year plus all the small boats and repairs. With every canoe restoration I do I'll give a year subscription to WCHA to that customer. A lot of my customers find me through WCHA anyway. But I don't think a lot of them are members. It's a small thing but every little bit helps. I'll put it on my site so people know. My site needs to be updated anyway. Dave
  17. OP
    Norm Hein

    Norm Hein Canoe Codger

    I too have a plan for something similar. If I can get others in my area to help out we are going to offer "Wood Canoe Float" with a local canoe rental outfit here. So it would look something like this: Four to six wood canoes are "rented" to a group of people. A couple of WCHA members would be their guides. A lunch will be offered and already set up by the members half way through the float. As the members are floating we can describe the canoe they are paddling and the history of it. This would get them in the canoe which is always the best way to get people really interested in them. So with the cost of the float a membership will be given to person on the float. The cost of the membership will be paid by them in the overall cost of the float. So the over all cost of the float would be around $80 which would cover all the costs and the membership. I think this would benefit the "customer" the rental business and definitely WCHA. And it would be a blast to be involved in it.
  18. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    That's actually a really great idea. Canoe owners that are not members but who are committed enough to invest in a restoration are a perfect fit. Creating WCHA awareness AND participation with an owner will get more traction than setting up a table at the county fair.
    Frankly, the board member lack of participation on this site is just one of the cracks in the foundation. Also absent are the big "collectors", key builders, local chapter heads etc. The forum is the one thing that someone trying to learn about canoes will land on so active participation here is really important.
    Rob mentions other forms of social media...and correctly points out that Facebook is for the old and grey and in the way. Other forms of social media are more "woke"...but trying to chase these is like trying to catch milkweed seeds drifting in the wind. Unless you are actively marketing and promoting and using a marketing expert to manage the distribution you'll always be a dog running down the road biting tires. Here's the hitch...that kind of marketing costs a great deal of money and takes significant effort. In a self funded volunteer organization without a true product to generate income...that can be (apparently is) impossible to fund and support. As Fitz notes, it's not for lack of effort or interest that we are here with this quandary. This is a difficult problem with no easy fix. Most other organizations that find their way out of this sort of hole do it by obtaining sponsorships, benefactors, donors who fund the cause and provide a trust fund that can be used to provide for progeny. It's my opinion that the board needs to have that as a focus. What is the WCHA plan for finding an angel? Who are those people/organizations that might become benefactors. Are there current members who might consider making the WCHA a part of their estate planning? Is there a board member who owns identifying a plan and executing it? I recall my father getting a large (M's) cash donation for the college he worked for at the time. The donor, an outdoorsman, canoeist, Adirondack resident was identified as a possible benefactor. When he was approached he was extremely willing to give.... what's our plan?
  19. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    In 2015 the board approved giving each of our WCHA Builder-Members five trial memberships to give to your clients who you think are most likely to appreciate the WCHA. It is an opportunity for you to add some extra value to your work for your customers-a small extra benefit for them. All you need to do is call or email WCHA Executive Director Annie Burke with the name, address and email of the person you'd like to give a free trial for a year. Please ask Annie if you have any questions.

    I would encourage you to suggest this idea to the WCHA's Executive Director Annie Burke and request some free (or discounted) memberships. The board could approve this during their meeting next week.

    I suspect that there isn't one. A college can offer to put your name on a building or something tangible but the WCHA doesn't have many options to offer that same kind of immortality. It is a good idea though,

    Last edited: Jul 10, 2019
  20. David Satter

    David Satter LOVES Wooden Canoes

    That sounds great Benson. I'll look into it. I'm delivering today , I'll talk to the canoe owner about it. 1930HW model. Kirby C green Epifanes matte P7090059.JPG

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