As the Chamber’s annual membership drive gets underway, President Paul Beatie reports on the past year’s achievements as well as current goals, challenges, and dreams for Ferndale’s future.
Dear Ferndale Business Community,
As I approach the completion of my first year as Chamber President, I am proud to report our team of volunteers has enjoyed a great many accomplishments. In this letter, I’d like to share with you our achievements as well as our goals, challenges and dreams for the near future.
Roughly a year ago, we launched our new chamber website and VisitFerndale.com continues to grow in content, beauty and functionality. So far, the site has received 190,000 page views from 58,000 unique viewers, meaning that each visitor viewed, on average, more than three different pages. Our homepage is the most popular destination, followed by the lodging page. Another key statistic: Nearly 60% of viewers are accessing the site on mobile devices and tablets. That’s important to note because our website is responsive, meaning it adapts to look and function its best based upon the type of device a viewer is using.
The marketing committee has completely revamped our advertising campaigns, working diligently to update television commercials, place seasonal radio ads, and develop a new angle for print advertising, as seen in our full-page ads in Insider magazine. A common theme in our advertising is the promotion of Ferndale as a destination: Ferndale should be known around the world as the best place to stay when visiting the Redwoods. The committee has also used social media campaigns to market Ferndale events, the positive results of which were evident in the attendance of holiday events. The committee continues to grow the chamber’s bank of photographs, including photos of events and businesses to be used on the website and in advertisements. Another major marketing project currently underway is what we are calling our “destination branding” project. The Chamber has contracted local artist Shawn Griggs to paint a bird’s-eye view of Ferndale and surrounding dairy land, hills, river and ocean, which will be used in advertising, on the website and in other future projects.
Meanwhile the beautification committee has been hard at work sprucing up town, from the installation of the footbridge to repainting and repairing of lampposts, benches and signs. If a business or community member needs help with a project, our volunteers are at the ready! Our window contests are another way the Chamber is helping to enhance the beauty of Main Street. Through friendly competition, the seasonally themed contests have inspired an even more festive atmosphere. This holiday season, look for a new city-wide Christmas light contest.
Yet another ongoing project is the installation of a Visitor Center at 580 Main Street. A new penny pressing machine has been purchased and installed and an iPad kiosk station is being constructed. Signage is in the works, as is the staffing of the space on busy days. The location is open 7 days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and already contains brochure racks and a bulletin board. We aim to include just as much information about things to do in Ferndale as there currently is about activities in the greater Redwoods region.
The events committee is working to create new events while expanding and enhancing community favorites. Ferndale Concours on Main continues to grow, and this year will be joined by new event Peoples and Steeples—a tour of the historic churches of Ferndale (Sept. 22). Along with ever-popular Bargain Lover’s Weekend, September promises to be a power month! Hospitality Night will be moved to November 30 this year with the three following Fridays to become similarly festive evenings, known as Victorian Holidays. We want Ferndale to be synonymous with Christmas; after all, we do have America’s largest living Christmas tree!
A major goal we hope to achieve in the near future is the rewrapping of our billboards on Highway 101. New designs are in the works, focusing on high contrast, attention-grabbing, magnetic, and informational designs aimed to capture business of more tourists who would otherwise just keep driving.
Finally, our membership committee is looking to expand our membership and enhance the benefits of being a member. Financially, the Chamber is in good shape; however, this year we have spent over budget on advertising and projects. While dipping into reserves and Humboldt Lodging Alliance grants have allowed us to do this, it won’t be sustainable in the long term. The Chamber is funded through the Transient Occupancy Tax, so one important way we can grow our budget is by increasing tourism—and that is exactly what we are supposed to be doing as the promotional arm of the City of Ferndale. Other ways to increase our budget include increasing dues, growing cooperative advertising pledges, and selling Ferndale merchandise. We are working diligently to do all of these.
Every day, folks stop me on the street with questions about what the Chamber is doing. We have questions ourselves that we are working hard to answer. How do we help fill empty storefronts? How do we best promote Ferndale to the world? How can we better work together to accomplish our goals, despite our differences?
Clearly, at least to me, we have accomplished much in the past year. We’ve also set some lofty yet I believe achievable goals. The biggest challenge is to keep the energy up and the momentum going strong. To do this, we need your help! We need your membership. We need your sponsorship. We need your volunteerism. We need your unique skills. We need your ideas! Remember that our Chamber is unique in that we do not have any paid positions; we are a completely volunteer-run organization. You can join and participate as an individual even if you don’t have a business of your own.
At the end of the day, we all love Ferndale and I truly believe that even with differences of background, politics or opinions, we can work together to make our already amazing community even better.
Thanks for your time,
President, Ferndale Chamber of Commerce
P.O. Box 325
Ferndale, CA 95536