After spending three days pitching Lunenburg County at the Rural and Remote Medicine Conference in Halifax, along-side every province and many Canadian communities also promoting the lifestyle they offer, I can now answer the question, “Does marketing your community really attract people to your community?” With a single-word: potentially.
Why potentially and not definitely? Well, after walking by booth after booth designed to grab my attention, there were only a few that actually drew me in. Images of beautiful B.C. were hard to ignore with their many lakes, mountains, hiking and surfing. Nunavut also brought their A-game with a booth that featured an area to host doctors in meaningful conversations about their community. The Yukon was by far the winner — their recruitment pitch so strong that I came right home and Googled airfare as I considered a visit. Just goes to show that not all recruitment is created equal. Let me explain:
Of the booths who were there, I’d say a quarter of them focused on the hospitals and what sets them apart from the rest. Interesting approach. The problem with that as I saw it, was that every hospital seemed to offer something similar. There were pictures of medical professionals working with state-of-the-art equipment in modern hospitals; something that I’m certain is imperative for anyone who takes pride in their work in the medical field. I couldn’t distinguish one hospital from the another. In fact, I couldn’t even tell you what province or what community the hospital was in.
Another issue is that at this event, there were lots of families. Spouses and children were checking out these booths exploring what communities they might like to call home. A few doctors could be heard saying, “it’s not really about me, but about where they want to go,” pointing to their family. I also couldn’t distinguish one city skyline from the next.
First impressions matter, so while marketing your community might ‘potentially’ work to attract people to your community, creatively marketing it works even better!
The Yukon understands this. Their imagery drew me in, but it was the material that held my attention. They created innovative giveaways, items such as puzzles to promote mental health and lifestyle condoms to promote sexual health. This bold marketing not only made me chuckle but made me ask questions about the other, healthy lifestyle initiatives in their community, which was exactly what they wanted.
As for our booth, we had images of beaches, recreation, and other aspects of the lifestyle in Lunenburg County. Many who visited us already knew about us - they’d either visited us before of heard about our community. We handed out NOW Lunenburg County Magazines, shared some of our real estate listings and held a draw to host a doctor and their family to give them a taste of what we have to offer. I’ve followed up with every doctor who filled out a ballot for our draw with an invitation to consider Lunenburg County as a place to live and work.
But we can do better. We must do better. And we have lots more work to do. These medical conferences are expensive to attend so we need to make them work. We are so grateful to the Health Services Foundation of the South Shore for covering the registration fee for our booth- it’s a partnership that works well. What we need now, before our next event, is a creative and well-thought-out booth that will attract doctors and their families. While we have an abundance of creativity, we don’t have the funding to support it.
If your group, company, or organization believes that we can and must do more to attract doctors to our community, NOW Lunenburg County can use your financial support. If you can help, please reach out to me, Tina Hennigar, at 902-523-5725 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to nowlunenburgcounty.com to learn more about our work.
Tina Hennigar is the population growth coordinator for NOW Lunenburg County.