Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Now let's get speleo serious: Cave Project Marketing for the Little Fish

Ever considered how to market your cave project? Maybe a little? No? If you've done anything at all, you've probably listened to the successful "cave project managers" talk about their cave at grotto or club meetings or you've read about their projects in newsletters or surfed cave-related websites. Then, when you got home to your trusty Microsofted Dell, you collated all your notes and put together a complete marketing package to attract the best and brightest cavers (or not so bright as the case may actually be) to your cave project.

And if you've done that, then how many times have you ever gotten the chance to ask a business marketing guru ("ooooh!") how best to market your cave project? Probably never. Before this past weekend I was unfortunate enough to be on that sinking ship with you. However, we are no longer comrades in peril, because I had the opportunity to query a specialist and the things I found out will astound you... if I decide to share the secrets that is. OK, don't have a bat, I'll tell. I would feel really badly if you drowned under the weight of an unmanageable cave project marketing scheme and lost all the best and brightest recruits to someone like me who already has all the answers.

First, don't make a really nice looking map. If you have a cave already, then you're in luck. Survey it (or start to) and be sure to make the cave map have no more than "two lines and a rock." Your project participants will appreciate the simplicity. Maps that look nice, make use of actual cave symbols and cross sections and ceiling heights and a whole bunch of other stuff are too hard to look at.

Wait a minute, you don't have a cave yet because you're still ridge walking and digging? No problem. Just do a surface map. On this you need to have the route to the camping area, closest place to get beer, and a couple of caves that are fun to do drunk. Including stuff like contour intervals, sinking streams, resurgences, cave entrances, dye traces, limestone, sinkholes, and whatever other information you can pack onto it will, again, just make it too hard to look at. You don't need that stuff to attract the best and brightest.

Next, write articles and share them with your project people. Also, encourage them to write articles too. This is key because it gives them a sense of the quality of the project management. For example, "Drekshuns to ma kavin spawt: go dan da heel til youns git pass dat moonshyne stil, den looks up da udder heel an youns ol see thet kave up air."

Also take photographs. Lots of 'em. Both on the surface and in the cave. Caption them appropriately, "Bubba got drunk at camp." "Bubbette got drunk at camp." "Bubba and Bubbette get ready to go caving." "Bubba and Bubbette ran naked down the hill past the moonshine still and ran headlong into the cliff beside the cave entrance." Publish these pictures on your website (you have one, right??) with the articles. Be sure to put your primary folks, i.e. those that show up at least one weekend per year, front and center. Put Bubba front and Bubbette center. "Put 'em in lights and they'll go to moon for you."

And that brings us to our final component: speak the truth, never embellish! Tell your people that you're the best caver of all time. Tell 'em how great they'll be when the project team leader (you) breaks into going virgin cave due to their efforts and how they'll be immortalized forever in the anals of caving history... or is it spelled with a double 'n'? Anyway, you get my drift.

So put all of the above together and you'll have definite success in attracting the best and brightest to your cave project.

Oh wait, almost forgot one: Pay 'em. Whether its in money or beer, it doesn't matter. Either way you'll be on the right path to miles and miles of virgin cave and you'll have the advice in this article to thank for it.

And stay tuned for a future article on "The making of a speleopolitician in six easy steps," or the alternate title, "How I learned to love the bomb and what it did to the small fish in my speleo pond."

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