dinsdag 11 januari 2011

marketing & education: the case of the Hammam

Who of you have visited a hammam recently? My last visit was quite a while back, but I am diving into it anew as the hammam here in The Hague has enlisted my help to develop a marketing plan. The hammam has recently come under "new old" management. New, because Hans Klomp and Marian van Vliet had handed over the management to a different board in 2007. Old, because both, and especially Hans, are the founders of this bath house. With this transition to new management the hammam needs to find its place in the local, regional and national landscape. Who are the competitors and why? Who visit the hammam? Which new target groups do we want to reach? Etc. In short: your average good old fashioned marketing plan.

But not quite! One of the reasons I enjoy this so much, is that the marketing for this intercultural institution goes directly to questions of identity. The hammam is not Turkish, not Moroccan, not Tunesian. It is a bathhouse firmly rooted in the Turkish Arabic culture that has the aim to attract multicultural visitors. And in large(r) numbers I may add. But in order to attract visitors, the nationality question is important. People want to own it as "theirs". It cannot be taken over by westerners. In other words: if we would draw up and implement an entire marketing plan to attract westerners we would finish off the entire purpose of the facility. We have to do justice to the hammam as a platform for intercultural meetings, for intercultural contact.

In the meeting today we discussed the first draft of the marketing plan. It needs to be taken one step further but the general opinion was that we are well underway to a feasible plan that will deliver both a guideline for the next five years as well as a concrete plan for action for 2011. Which will be an exciting year for the hammam as not only have they decided to go for a new corporate style (I just linked them up with the graphic designer) but also because they will start training the staff in hospitality, marketing etc. This will put the basis in place for the years to come. Also we quite extensively discussed the use of social media to promote the hammam. Hans and Marian do not feel very digital and so this will probably be something for the staff to take up. For the website we discussed the possibilities that e.g. blogger offers. True, it is a blog, but with any imagination it can quite easiliy be (ab:-)used as a very dynamic website. NRC - a Dutch newspaper - has gone this way as well, be it not via blogger. But I found it inspiring and bearing in mind that the hammam has a low marketing budget and wants easy websitemanagement, I thought this would offer a good opportunity at least for now. Which immediately brought us to the organisational consequences. Using a blog as your website means that it has to be maintained on at least a weekly if not daily basis. Who is capable of doing so? Do we devise ground rules for this? What can we write and what not? But it also requires a different mode of thinking. To prepare for the discussion with the graphic designer the hammam staff and management will create a moodboard, as that makes the discussion with the designer so much easier. So I suggested that they make pictures and take some moving images to put on their website to give voice to their process of professionalisation. And that is when marketing becomes fun and GOOD: when you go past the campaign concepts and past the corporate image to really develop the organisation.

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