NORTHEAST WASHINGTON INSIDER: A CATALYST FOR REGIONAL EXPLORATION, COLLABORATION AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
The Northeast corner of Washington State, covering more than 6,000 square miles and three of Washington’s 39 counties, is as vast as it is diverse. Its terrain ranges from long stretches of farmland in its many river valleys to mountain peaks that tower above countless lakes. Its industries vary more than the landscape. Across Ferry, Pend Oreille and Stevens Counties, you’ll find fifth generation farmers and foresters and centuries old Native American tribes alongside entrepreneurs running small businesses ranging from outdoor recreation to wine making. Therein lies the challenge for the Tri County Economic Development District (TEDD), whose charter is to promote economic growth while preserving the culture and environment of the region.
With myriad amazing small businesses and historic locations, it’s a
challenge to market such a large area, with each town having its own
character and assets.
– Shelly Stevens, Regional Marketing & Tourism Developer, TEDD
Adding to TEDD’s difficult task for the region is something faced by every rural community today: limited budgets, which increasingly require them to do more with less. This is exacerbated by a short supply of reliable data to inform investment decisions that will help promote the wide variety of Tri County businesses.
The more targeted and effective any TEDD marketing campaign can be,
the farther the limited funding available for such efforts can
– Shelly Stevens
In the fall of 2016, the Washington State Department of Commerce introduced the TEDD leadership team to Tim Fry from 468 Communications, whose reward-focused 468 Insider app platform seemed to address many of the region’s challenges. Apps created using 468 Insider allow communities to showcase their best destinations in one place, creating incentives for app users to explore those off-the-beaten path gems by rewarding them with discounts when they make purchases at local businesses. Over time, app administrators can generate reports on where users are from, what places they visit and where they are spending their money. It wasn’t long before Shelly Stevens and TEDD’s Executive Director, Jeff Koffel, embarked on a campaign to convince the region’s chambers of commerce and historical society to collaborate on launching a 468 Insider app for the region, called Northeast Washington Insider.
The Northeast Washington Insider app allows us to broadly market
the region without leaving any area behind in the effort. It also
lets us project a more current method – mobile – to reach a larger
audience. We’re eager to collect the data that the app will provide
and use it to help shape marketing efforts in the future.
– Shelly Stevens
TEDD launched Northeast Washington Insider in July 2017. Within the first full month of availability, more than 500 people downloaded the app, collecting points at 140 locations and redeeming points (i.e., spending money) at businesses across the region – from the ChewVino wine bar in Chewelah to the Selkirk Motel in Colville to the Stonerose Interpretive Center in Republic.
This is a great app! My family visiting from the coast signed up
yesterday and collected points from local businesses on their way to
Stonerose Interpretive Center from Chewelah. When they arrived at
Stonerose they were able to cash in their points and cover the
expense of their fossil dig and tools for three people. Highly
recommended and a great way to explore our neck of the woods. Thank
you for offering such a fun tool.
– Northeast Washington Insider app user in Republic, WA
TEDD owes the early success of Northeast Washington Insider to how easy they have made it for members of the community to share their enthusiasm for the app. Shelly Stevens armed individual businesses with ready-to-use materials to promote the app to their own customers. She posted an online toolkit that included talking points, printable posters, digital graphics and messages for social media posts. She also distributed instore signage to regional businesses, such as window clings, table tents, and wallet-sized cards for handing out to retail customers.
As the organization with primary marketing responsibility for the Tri County area, TEDD had already established several regional promotional channels. Shelly integrated app messaging into all existing marketing efforts, ensuring every online property promoted the app, and the app linked to and promoted those sites. TEDD also took advantage of content provided by 468 Communications, including a “how to” video, which Shelly added to the region’s It’s Real Life website.
TEDD also created a Northeast Washington Insider Facebook page devoted to promoting the app’s point collection locations and businesses where rewards can be earned. Doing so not only helps tell the story of the app and region, it provides easily shareable content for businesses, residents and visitors to share among their respective networks.
TEDD has engaged 468 Communications as a partner at every step, beginning with the process to educate the community on how to create a presence economy, all the way through launch and efforts to build and sustain awareness for Northeast Washington Insider.
The experience has been remarkably smooth with very few hiccups as
we have gone along. 468 Communications has been fantastic to work
with, provides excellent customer service and listens to our needs
for the app.
– Shelly Stevens
468 Insider has allowed us to easily and cost effectively create an
app that makes exploring the region fun while promoting our local
– Jeff Koffel, Executive Director, TEDD
What is especially impressive about TEDD’s Insider app deployment, is that they have successfully coordinated the efforts of multiple stakeholders – chambers of commerce, heritage organizations and individual businesses – across three different counties. Key to their success has been Team TEDD’s service mindset, creativity and impeccable execution. Before moving forward, Jeff Koffel and Shelly Stevens gathered feedback from all stakeholders about the idea to launch an app, enabling them to secure the buy-in and resources needed to proceed. They then made it easy for every community and business to participate in the app – creating and distributing creative marketing materials around Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille Counties. Their expert use of traditional and digital media has quickly generated excitement for the Northeast Washington Insider app among tourists and residents alike.
For more information about TEDD and Northeast Washington Insider, contact Shelly Stevens: 509.684.4571 ext. 102 | firstname.lastname@example.org.