We have had the tremendous honour of being made ‘Guide Parents’. Close friends who are non-religious have chosen us to be ‘back-up’ for their most treasured and valuable possession, their child. We love her, we have a great relationship and the feeling is mutual; nothing in life tops that.
And so to the point…
A Trip to the Zoo
This weekend we ‘moved in’ and became proxy parents as our friends took a weekend off to remind themselves of why they are a couple; everybody was happy, ‘win-win’. We excitedly planned a trip to a small local zoo, just right for our young charge. I’ll be honest, I hate zoos. I feel anxiety as I watch pacing animals, trapped in enclosures that are a long way short of ‘Africa’. For years I have tried to avoid anything less than a safari park, this weekend my eyes, and my mind, have been opened.
Supporting Small Businesses
Linton Zoo was born in 1972. Beginning as a family’s small private collection, today it has evolved to be a member of the International Breeding Programme and is playing a vital role in the preservation of endangered species. I now appreciate the vital work they do. This family have seen change. No longer can they be assured of visitor numbers allowing them to carry on their good work. Since 1972 the competition has evolved, new and exciting experiences tempt young minds. Like many businesses, this small zoo has an uphill struggle. No longer can their primary focus be animal care, they have to focus on standing out from the crowd and attracting a good share of the market.
The Need to Stand Out
So when finances are stretched and you have a team that excels in the dietary requirements of an Eastern Quoll (see below) or the mating habits of a Snow Leopard, what do you do? This business needs to thrive, the Quoll, and all the other species at the zoo depend on it. The pressure is immense, the quoll was extinct in Australia, snow leopard numbers have dropped by 20% in 16 years, time is running out. Every penny of their budget is needed for the upkeep of the animals yet they need to attract visitors, increase revenue, be a visible presence in the face of high-tech, new and exciting offerings.
Playing to Strengths
With little or no marketing budget…It might be that there is hidden talent among the staff, a creative individual who is able to write regular blog articles. Guest articles in local magazines, competitions to win a trip to the zoo, features in local newspapers…What resources are at their disposal? Local businesses could sponsor an animal, providing funds for its care. Gift packages of high perceived value ‘Keeper for the Day’ etc could be auctioned at events, raising funds and profile. These are all temporary fixes, the park needs to come up with a solid, pragmatic and long-term content marketing strategy, a holistic approach that will improve SEO, attract visitors, increase funds and enable the Linton Zoo family to do what matters most, conserve and care for the diverse and precious species we have managed to endanger through our greed and neglect.
Reach Your Target Marketing
An experienced, knowledgeable marketer would develop a content marketing strategy to create revenue that can be re-invested. Recognise the target market and appeal to them, what else could be on offer? Begin to think outside the box, get in the heads of your potential customers, what would they love to see/do? What resources do you have that could be repurposed? (See my article) What could be developed that will ensure repeat business?
Clever marketing involves imagination and creativity, not necessarily ‘big bucks’. Bolder marketing strategies need to include long term aims akin to producing own-branded merchandise, national awareness, social media engagement promoting the story of the brand and all that it has to offer. Each animal at the zoo has a story; its origins, its struggles and triumphs, its daily life, its future. I am seeing story books of each animal ‘Quincy Quoll Saves The Species’… OK, that was off the top of my head, but with backing from Quantas or similar, who knows, it could happen!
Good luck Linton Zoo, you are a treasure that deserves preserving.