One of the tasks I spend most of my time on at The Haven is bringing our existence to the notice of people, otherwise known as marketing. I have not had any formal marketing training, but with the increasing importance of social media over the last few years I am finding many innovative, accessible and low cost ways of accessing a greater number of people.
The Haven has been active on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus for a few years now; we have our own blog and Vimeo and YouTube channels. There are always new social media opportunities on offer, and it can sometimes be somewhat overwhelming to manage it all!
Through 2012 I took on two new projects which I hoped would build on our current marketing efforts and offer new ways of reaching people. In early 2013 we launched The Haven app and on March 18 2013, The Haven was the venue and a sponsor for TEDxGabriolaIsland; I was the chief organizer for the event.
The idea for the app came about by chance. While on holiday on the beautiful west coast of Vancouver Island, I downloaded the Tofino App onto my iPad. I was impressed with the design, and the possibilities that an app can offer, and contacted the app developers, Apps with Integrity – I fell in love with their name first! Initially I was thinking it would be good to have the app offer a mobile enabled version of our web site. It was the developers who suggested that it might be worth considering what kind of interactive ‘games’ the app could offer. After overcoming my initial reaction to the word ‘games’ I began to understand the possibilities that this technology offers.
The Haven app has learning resources only available on the app. There is our 5-5-5 communication exercise, complete with instructions, timer and random topic generator. Also available is timed and guided Haven-style breathing coaching with background music or waves. The Haven app also includes:
- Links to upcoming programs
- The new Come Alive video
- The latest news from The Haven
- Information about who we are, what we do and where we are
It’s a great tool for integrating learning from Haven programs. It’s also a handy introduction to The Haven for anyone who has not been to a program before. We will be adding extra in-app functionality every year. Best of all, it did not cost a lot, and, since it offers resources unique to the app, we are charging to download the app, so it is generating revenue.
The opportunity to host the TEDx event also came about by accident rather than design. I have always been an avid TED video watcher online, and I wanted to find out how to propose speakers for TED events. While doing some research, I came across the possibility of organizing a TEDx event. I assumed it would be either expensive or in some other way impossible to host a TEDx event on a small island with a population of 4000. I discovered that it was free and relatively easy to apply for a license, and that, as long as I did not want to use the event to ‘sell’ the people and products that The Haven offers, I could put the event on.
The videos from TEDxGabriolaIsland will be online soon. Click here to view the photos on Flickr.
I am now in the process of wrapping up the event, and will likely apply for another license for next year. The partnership with TEDx offers widespread access to media and markets which might otherwise not be interested. The TEDx name also enabled us to attract some really interesting speakers to The Haven to speak to our chosen theme: Empathy. In the process of finding sponsors for the event, I made connections and relationships that will last beyond the day itself. It was also a really awesome community event, with the majority of the audience from Gabriola. And there’s always the possibility of one of the videos going viral!
Be warned, putting on a TEDx event involves a lot of work and I was very fortunate to have a great team of volunteers, including talented and experienced sound, light, camera and visuals crew willing to work for love, not money! I said I would decide on whether to reapply for another license when I had finished the first event; and though at times I had my doubts, I am planning to do just that.
I hope to see many of you at Esalen and look forward to sharing other ways of spreading the word! If anyone would like more information about the app or TEDx event, please feel free to contact me directly email@example.com