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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Key West Promotion... Marketing To The World from Key West!

Key West Promotion
At least the way I do it!  HA HA HA!

^ listen to “Cajun’s Got A Coconut” as you enjoy the blog^

As a resident of Key West, first and foremost, I see it as my responsibility to do all I can to help promote the town and all it has to offer, which frankly, is immense. After all, this is a tourist town. My neighbor four doors back down Whitehead St., Ernest Hemingway, wasn’t happy about that, but here we are eighty years later and it is, what it is.

I have a very different approach to marketing myself, via Key West and make no mistake about it whatsoever: I take a back seat, in a big way, to Key West. If someone is looking for info on Key West, they certainly aren’t looking for a massive ego. They are looking for that funny mentality that is the Conch Republic and a viewpoint that will not only aid them in making their decision for where to go on vacation, but more importantly, for a brief moment, they escape to the shores of the Conch Republic itself, in their minds eye.

If you have read this blog in the past, you’ll know that I report on just about anything here. There’s no shortage of subjects. Most are good, fun things, while there is also the point where one is also faced with the realization of finding where terra firma is. As I’m writing at this moment, this blog alone has over 40,300 views, so we’re doing something right I guess, even if the total picture isn’t a bowl full of cherries.

(Islemorada 2003)
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The other avenue pursued is Facebook. There I have a total of over 5,000 folks that can see my posts almost every day, from my regular page and fan pages. As a musician I have the capability of just putting forth my gig events and whom I may be playing with, which a lot of people in my profession do.  This has a fair degree of merit, I suppose and it is one aspect that I do utilize, though not as much as others. The kicker here is that, in my view anyway, it’s too shallow and makes the person presenting it, not all that interesting, to be frank. Every day all one really sees are posts about their schedules. After a while the audience just blows by it thinking “Yeah, I’ve seen that schedule every day for the last 365!” Additionally, unlike a lot of local artists who draw local clientele, in addition to local clientele, because my music is played throughout the United States,as well as in Europe, my clientele also consists of those who will be visiting Key West, thus augmenting my shows here on the island. So naturally I make a concentrated effort to reach out to these people. Here in the Keys I can count the artists who do this on one hand, with three fingers missing... and that's including myself, mind you.

Additionally, no other artists do a blog, to my knowledge. For instance, this week alone, this blog had 427 views from Europe. It's not over, but so far in September the blog has had 2063 views from Europe alone. That's from this blog. As far as I know, I cannot track the views I get on Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus. However, it goes without saying that having over 2000 views a month, from people in Europe, who are interested in the Keys, or Key West specifically, is a very important item to take note of. For all of you in Europe, I extend my gratitude!!!

In my view, while it is important to put up schedules as an artist, it’s also important to show the outside world that you are an interesting individual outside of the stage. The person that I knew that did this better than anyone else in town was a guy nicknamed Bird Man, or just Bird. I knew Bird as an art consultant and worked with him for about a year, day in, day out. When Bird left that business he started selling tours street side on Duval, or Greene Streets.  Now a lot of people do this here in Key West, but Bird took it to another level. Bird was a true salesman and not just an order taker. Bird would talk to the clientele and find out where their “Hot Buttons” were. When he realized that they and he clicked, he’d ask them “Well, what types of places to you like? “ They’d tell him and the next thing he’d say after they told him was “I know just the exact places you’re looking for. Look, I’m off at five. Why don’t we meet up then and I’ll take you personally to all of the places that you’re looking for.” Suddenly, not only were they going where they wanted to go, but they had a tour guide who was a fascinating, true Key West character too boot! Consequently these people would contact Bird every trip in from that point on! Bird always had people flying in. He’d give them the personal tour and they would always go home with incredible stories involving their “Crazy Key West friend, Bird”.

What Bird did, is up the same alley as what I do. 90% of what we both do (did, in Bird’s case, we lost him last year to cancer) is not promote ourselves. That’s the 10% left over. The 90% of what we do is promote Key West and the Keys. The reality is, a lot of the promotion in the end, benefits others around town indirectly, but that's good karma, so to speak. Over the years, I've been a salesman. Honestly, I was mediocre. Mediocre that is, unless I truly believed in the product. I believe in Key West and the Keys. There’s no bullshit involved in selling the Keys. One doesn't have to do a tap dance with a top hat and a cane. Key West sells itself. All we have to do is point out some of the subtleties and quirks that make this unique place what it is.  Anyone who reads this blog, or follows me on Facebook, will always see Key West and the Keys at the forefront. On Facebook I’m always posting pictures from around town. Here in the blog there will be text such as you’re reading now, with a few pictures, maybe a video, and often a song from down this way. The bottom line is, do my part to help the town and whatever I do in doing so, will have both a direct and indirect impact on what I do. Additionally, what I do will also have an impact on others in the town as well, be they a conch train driver, and art consultant, a bartender, or maybe another musician. 

(Key Largo 2003)
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Is it always good? No, the Keys have their faults, like anyplace else. Take the Hogfish Bar out on Stock Island as an example. I used to absolutely love the place and would play there several times a year. Then, in February 2012, a few days before I had a gig there, an ambulance arrived at my place and carted me off to the local hospital. They in turn, put me on a helicopter and flew me to Miami for an emergency procedure at 1am, which saved my life. The next morning, I called the Hogfish from the ICU in critical condition, because it was that important to me that they have as much notice as possible that I wouldn’t be able to play that Saturday. The answer I got from them wasn’t “Oh wow! What happened? Are you going to be okay? Is there anything we can do?” I guess I’m just old fashioned, but that’s what my reaction would have been. Their reaction was “oh, so what are you saying? You can’t make the gig?” To which I repeated “Well, I’m in critical condition and they medi vacked me here to Miami by helicopter at midnight. It was important to me to give you as much notice as I could” Their response was not “Hey! Hope you get well really quickly and let us know if there is anything we can do!” The Hogfish’s response was “ok, well I guess if you’re not going to make the gig, you won’t be here.” CLICK. The Hogfish never hired me again. Neither did their sister restaurant, Geiger Key, either. Really nice, compassionate people, huh? It's sad in many ways. I don't go there anymore. Why would I want to support assholes, when there are so many good people around?

So, like anyplace else, the Keys aren’t always peaches and cream. I’ll leave you to your own draw your own conclusions regarding the Hogfish.

Having said that, there are always bad apples in every bunch and the remaining majority usually prevail. There are a lot of really good apples… or perhaps we should change that to pineapples, here in Key West! It’s those great pineapples that I focus on for the most part, as many have already seen..

Over ten years ago, I lived in Cutler Bay, Fl., about 25 miles north of Key Largo. On the weekends I would drive down to the Keys and take all sorts of pictures and I would post daily pictures of the Keys every day, then on MySpace. For me, living on the mainland, I would bring up these pictures and all of the sudden all the weight of day to day life was lifted off of my shoulders. I wanted to share this with others, so I would post them on MySpace. It worked for others as well seeing these pictures, particularly in the winter months, for those far north of where I was. Over the years some other people, interestingly enough, musicians, started doing the same thing. It’s a good thing to bring joy to others, even if it’s only a few seconds. Later, Facebook took over from MySpace and I continued my new tradition there.

The pictures from as long ago as ten, eleven years ago, are still great today. Today's blog has some pictures from those early days:

On a connecting key just past Bud and Mary’s in Islamorada. My guitar “Bell” (1975 Guild D25) and my beer sticker guitar case, quayside.
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The same spot as above, looking out.
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The Bahia Honda Bridge
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The Caribbean Club, Key Largo
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Stiltsville – Biscayne Bay

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Pigeon Key
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Wild Quaker Parrots in my old back yard
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Keys Bridge Post Card

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Bahia Honda postcard from the 1940’s
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Bogart’s Bus!

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Pappa Joe’s Islemorada (since torn down)

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Sunset off the Florida Keys

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Those are some picture posts I put in as long as ten or more years ago.

Getting back to what I was saying earlier, The Keys and Key West are far larger than any of us are. What I do is showcase Key West, for the most part these days, as it’s where I live now. Am I pursuing my own livelihood? Well, yes and no.  Let’s take the blog as an example. The average blog I put together takes around six hours. Obviously I make absolutely nothing on the blog, unless some good soul takes the link to my website and downloads some music. On the flip side, what this blog, Facebook, Google Plus, and my Twitter entries do, is showcase the wonders of Key West, much more than myself. What that does is plant a seed for those viewing it and you know what? Because they searched out Key West originally, they found what they were looking for. I can’t tell you how many messages and e-mails I get from folks asking me advice on things like where to stay, eat, and most of all, where I’ll be playing when they’re in town. Here's the key, in doing so, I'm their local contact, just as Bird had achieved earlier in the blog. In the last two months I’ve had about seventy five inquiries as to where I’m playing. Bear in mind, almost none are coming to Key West by themselves. Most are coming with at least a spouse and more often than not, additional friends they are vacationing with. Back in June, I had two groups show up at a gig I was playing, so there happened to be a dozen people that showed up at a gig that wouldn't have been there had I not been as active with the various social medias.

(Jewfish Creek 2004)
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Along this same line of thinking, I recently had started a campaign to have my dogs, Cajun and Tooloulou, in the local paper, the Key West Citizen, in a feature called “Citizen Of The Day”. I started a Facebook page and had over 235 likes, when my local city commissioner, Clayton Lopez, got in touch with local photographer, Rob O’Neal, who handles the Citizen of the Day for the paper. Next thing you know, we’re in the paper!  Big thanks to Clayton and Rob, as well as all who supported the Facebook page!

It was a funny campaign having two dogs as Citizens of the Day, no doubt about that! Very Key West mentality for certain. However, how many times have I bumped into people while walking them, who say to me “Oh! You’re Key West Chris! We look forward to all of your Key West posts every day and absolutely love them! We knew it was you because of your dogs!”. Also, it's gratifying to see how much real joy people get meeting them on the street, be it if they know them from the pictures I post, or having never seen them before. The dogs give so many happiness and they are truly, Ambassadors of Key West!  I should touch base with Sir Peter Anderson about getting them Conch Republic passports too! HA HA HA HA!

Citizens of the Day photo

The vast majority of the people who meet my dogs on the street, don’t come to my gigs, but that’s okay too. On the other hand, in July/August we had over two hundred people come to gigs that perhaps wouldn't have been at those venues otherwise. The absolute main focus is to showcase the virtues of Key West as a whole, not one’s self. What’s good for the goose, is good for the gander. The residual benefits will come your way, as well as the way of others. 

It goes without saying, all are free to contact me if you have any questions on anything whatsoever. Below, if you click on the link to the website there is an e-mail contact listed for messages.

In the next blog, I'll focus a bit (not the whole blog) on radio exposure.


To obtain my music, be sure to check my website for downloads and physical CDs!! This site also has material not available on other sites.

Also My CD is available on iTunes, CD Baby, CD Universe, Rhapsody, and Beachfront Radio.
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Thank you everyone!!