Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Cambrian College Students Help Promote Cycling in Sudbury

This blogpost is long overdue, and I must offer my sincere apologies to Professor Brian Vendramin’s graphic design class at Cambrian College for the delay.

I had the pleasure of attending presentations put on by Mr. Vendramin’s class back on Monday, January 17th. The Graphics Design class had been diligently working on a project for the Sudbury Cyclists Union, after Union members had visited with the class back in October of 2010. The class had been tasked with producing promotional materials and a marketing strategy to address the priorities of the Cyclists Union (whatever those are!). Last Monday, the efforts of the entire class were on display for me and other Union members. And I can tell you that, if I were Prof. Vendramin, everyone would be getting an “A”.

The Sudbury Cyclists Union is a new organization to Sudbury. It was founded only on Earth Day, 2010, and really started to take off after our first in-person meeting, held in June of last year. We’re still an organization trying to figure out what it wants to be (which I’m sure created headaches for the marketing students…but also apparently offered opportunities to apply some seriously creative ideas…more on that later).

The SCU wants to focus on a number of things, which can be summed up as the desire to promote a culture of cycling within the City. To do so, the SCU has to be an advocate for cycling, as well as the go-to organization for cyclists when it comes to cycling safety and other issues which impact cycling in our community. We want to work with other stakeholders to advance our interests in a safe and financially sustainable way. Growing our organization is also a priority.

The strategies developed by the students in Professor Vendramin’s class will be discussed at an upcoming meeting of the SCU, and when the SCU formalizes an organizational structure (which will be before the end of the winter), the SCU Executive will have an informed discussion with the membership about where we are to go from here. The strategies and materials developed by our Cambrian College student partners are going to play a big role in moving us forward.

5 groups of Cambrian students presented their strategies, and were asked tough questions by SCU members. The first group focused on attracting new members, identifying a to-be-targeted demographic between the ages of 15 and 50, with a health and fitness bent. Their promotional materials, to be made available at gyms and health food stores, were stellar.

The second group to present came up with an idea which would force the SCU to create partnerships with local cycling-friendly businesses (which was very appealing to me) as part of a City-wide game (which was interesting, and something the SCU might consider as part of a campaign to attract new members and potentially some media interest). The game, which would see cyclists biking around the City throughout any given month, receiving stamps from area-businesses, was to be driven by a powerful on-line video (which had great production value, and I’m sure would go viral locally!).

The third group to present offered a very clear strategy for growing the organization, with an emphasis on promotional materials. This group put a lot of thought into the notion of what it means to be a “member” of the Sudbury Cyclists Union, and their promotional materials, which incorporated the Union’s logo, would definitely assist in “branding” the Union, making it recognizable to the larger community.

The fourth group identified the need for the Union to position itself strongly with a demographic which they believed would be very supportive of the Union, and which would lead to further growth. Their message was succinct, and one that I’ll personally be advocating for at the next meeting: get into the schools. When I questioned this group regarding a statement they had made relating to the difficulty which the Union might experience with getting into the schools, I was presented with what I felt was the best answer of the day: you can’t afford to miss the opportunity, so do whatever it takes.

The fifth group offered some practical solutions for growing membership locally, through organizational branding and transferable promotional materials. They had put a lot of thought into how the organization could promote itself at every opportunity possible, and provided information on expected expenses.

All of these strategies and materials were very well thought out, offering the SCU different ideas and approaches to growth and marketing. Now, if only we had some money…

But the good news for the SCU remains that we’ve accomplished a lot already without any budget whatsoever. We’ve been able to tap into some kind of community zeitgeist related to cycling. We can’t fail, because the community understands that cycling is here to stay, now more than ever.

And with the enthusiastic help of Professor Vendramin’s Cambrian College class, the SCU will be well positioned to move forward in 2011. I was just blown away by these presentations, and I am so very thankful for the assistance offered to our organization by Professor Vendramin and his very capable students.

No comments: