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Can you sense the frustration?

14 February 2018

When the current CEO of the South Waikato District Council took up his position several years ago, I invited him to my studio-workshop to discuss how I could help promote the district he now managed.

I'm sure I've told this story before but in a nutshell, I told him that I was more than happy to use my YouTube channels to promote the district and pointed to the (at that time) 40 million or so views my videos had already received and the steady stream of overseas visitors who came to Tokoroa solely as a result of those videos.

His response was a curt "Social media is not important".

From that one statement I was able to form the opinion that this guy was perhaps not the sharpest knife in the drawer. Subsequent interaction with the guy has simply reinforced that first impression.

Now I'm the kind of person who can quite easily dissociate personality from performance and value so on multiple occasions since then, I have restated my offer to the CEO and the entire South Waikato District Council.

Sad to say, the response has remained invariant.

Just to make sure there's no confusion... I have two of the most successful YouTube channels in the country, my videos have been seen a combined total of over 100 million times and every month, the total watch-time of my videos comes to over eight years of continuous viewing.

Just for shites and giggles, I did some calculations...

The average CPM (cost per thousand views) charged by YouTube for advertising on its platform over the past year has been around NZ$7.90. During the last year my channels scored about 13 million views. This represents earnings for YouTube (not me) of around $103,000 from advertising on those videos.

Or to put it another way, if you were going to buy every ad that appeared on my videos throughout the period of the last 12 months, you'd have to front up with over $100K.

I expect that the next 12 months will see around a 15% increase in my video views so the value of advertising on my videos over the coming year will more likely be around $120K.

Sadly, I do not get all (or even the majority) of that money -- YouTube takes a huge whack for its own costs.

However, it is clear to see that my videos represent the equivalent of about $120K a year (going forward) in advertising exposure.

It was with great interest therefore that I read the SWDC's new draft District Marketing Plan.

If you can't be bothered to take a browse, let me fill you in on the important bits.

Several years ago, the CEO of the SWDC (Craig Hobbs) told me "Social media isn't important" yet in this brief, 18-page marketing plan, the word "online" appears no less than 35 times and sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn are specifically referenced as key components of the plan.

A look at the financials for this plan also reveals something very interesting...

The total spend for this marketing initiative comes to just $103,500 per year.

Now remember that I offered to use my YouTube channels to promote the district and, if you consider the videos themselves to be a promotion of the district that would otherwise involve the purchasing of advertisements, the value of my offer would be worth *more* than the entire budget for this marketing plan.

The plan also mentions the need to use "national and international networks" of businesses to advocate for the district as a great place to do business and it also says that the council's role in respect to local business is to "ensure that they are supported and given opportunity to grow". Well goodness me, I've been doing exactly this and have bought Tokoroa to the attention of a good number of overseas businesses (primarily in the drone sector) who have expressed strong interest in doing business here.

Sadly however, Mr Hobbs felt that he was to busy to make a 2-minute phone call to one of the world's largest aerospace companies when they emailed him in an attempt to establish a dialogue. Other companies who have responded to the potential that Tokoroa represents have been effectively turned away by an intransigent council who refuses to even consider making the minor changes required to explore such opportunities.

Then there's the issue of tourism.

Let me quote from the plan:

"The South Waikato District must ensure we are maximizing this opportunity to grow visitor numbers, visitor spend and length of stay by enhancing the visitor experience for our district and clearly communicating the district's tourism offering. This includes meeting the needs and expectations of both domestic and international visitors and leaving a positive, lasting impression"

Let's see... already there are 100+ people a year visiting Tokoroa from overseas, solely as a result of my videos. That number would have been many times greater this year if the council had gotten behind my initiative to run a world-class event here at the local airfield. Instead, they simply demanded a "six figure deposit" for use of that airfield, despite the fact that no other individual or group has ever been asked to pay a deposit of any kind for such use.

So, does this marketing plan represent a quantum-shift in the mindset of the council and its CEO?

Or is it just more rhetoric and justification for the wasting of $100K a year of ratepayer's money?

Does the council's ongoing refusal to even consider accepting the offers I've made to promote the town, encourage tourism and bring new businesses to the district speak volumes as to the pettiness of certain members of the executive and governance?

And let's also not forget that I've repeatedly offered council the benefit of my "expert advice" on issues relating to aviation regulations yet, on two occasions now, they have instead engaged very expensive private consultants to give them advice which was at odds with both my advice and that of CAA.

Is it time to escalate this obviously ridiculous situation to a higher level?

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