By Mayra Etayo
If you live in Avalon Park (in East Orange County) and you own a dog, you’ve probably heard of a little girl named Yazmina. Much like celebrities known by their one name monikers such as Madonna or Cher, Yazmina has become a sort of celebrity in the Avalon Park area.
I live in the area and because I do social media for my clients, I am on sites like Twitter and Facebook for a large portion of my day. Yazmina’s posts were popping up more and more. And then a sort of phenomenon happened. People were starting their own posts about this little girl – this peaked my interest. If you own your own business, then you probably know that your internet presence is vital in today’s society for a successful business. Many business owners don’t have the time to properly manage their social media campaigns, or don’t do it at all. Many companies give up on social media to easily because they don’t get a quick return, or it doesn’t produce the return they were expecting.
But this little girl seemed to be getting it right. I had to meet her. I contacted her mom and asked if I could interview this little cutie – maybe we could all learn something from Yazmina.
It all started last November when Yazmina, a fourth grader who is home-schooled girl was given an assignment – If You Could Improve Your Community, What Would You Do? Yazmina reflected on previous outings with her family to events like the ones hosted by Avalon Park. She noticed how many dog owners bring their pups to events. “You never see cats at these events” Yazmina told me with a twinkle.
It was then that the she determined what her project would be: to improve the Avalon Park dog park, which currently offers pet waste stations, benches and a nice area for dogs to run – but not much else. Many other AP dog park users had also expressed an interest in having an improved park, so Yazmina got to work. “When I saw what other parks looked like, I was like, Wow!” said an excited Yazmina.
Yazmina, with the help of her mother, started on her project by researching other parks, the materials, and costs. They surveyed dog owners that visited the park and East Orlando residents. She spoke to Orange County Utilities about costs for installing the underground pipes for the water fountains. She got architectural specs for ramps, doggie-tunnels etc. Her next step was to raise community awareness and raise the money. Impressed yet?
To raise awareness and money they participated in Absolutely Avalon in March. “We gave away little Milk bones packaged with a ribbon and a card that had our Facebook page and the link to our fundraising page. That helped raise awareness about the project and raised $297 in donations that night.”
But they needed more likes on their Facebook page if they were really going to get a farther reach. So they came up with an idea. They created a Photo Contest on their page. I play here too was the theme, pictures were posted on the Yazmina’s Dog Park Project Facebook page and visitors to the page could vote on their favorite dog. Of course, dog owners would likely invite their FB friends to visit and like the page. This is a great tip for any business owner with a FB page.
Strategies such as posting fan centered updates and like us to enter are two of the top ways to gain likes on your Facebook page. Be sure to enable sharing and comments.
If you visit the Facebook page you’ll see right away the page itself is very nicely put together with an eye catching cover photo and profile picture. They’ve even customized the app buttons so visitors to the page can easily find what they are looking for.
The mom and daughter knew, just from being visitors to the park that many other dog owners wanted a dog park. But if they wanted to get this project off the ground – they would need support and approval from various entities such as Orange County Utilities, the HOA, etc. They knew it wouldn’t be enough to just say “other people want this to”. So they surveyed the community.
Before any business launches a new retail store, makes improvements to their website, changes prices, etc., they often wisely use a marketing survey to check in with their target audience and make sure that they are truly on the right path.
The ultimate endeavor in the project so far was the Bark in the Park event. Holding an event is one of the most difficult and labor intensive aspects of a marketing plan. There are so many details to take care of. But if done correctly, it is one of the best ways to encourage community involvement and raise funds. I paid my $8.00 registration fee and attended the event – this is where I met the little girl behind it all.
There were quite a few sponsors and vendors. Understanding the important role they play is pivotal to a successful event. More importantly, giving them proper credit is important to making your sponsors happy and enticing them to reinvest in your next event.
I walked around and had to take note of the attention to detail. I’ve produced events and tradeshows for over twenty years. She receives my stamp of approval for an event well run.
During my interview, I had to ask Yazmina’s mom if she had any marketing background or used the help of a professional company. “I didn’t know what I was doing when we started.” she answered me with a laugh.
As you can see, Yazmina’s homework project turned rally to make community improvements is quite amazing. I’m excited to follow this story in the months to come and see what other ideas Yazmina comes up with to market her project. What ideas and tips and you take away from this 10 year old?
Over the course of her extensive twenty-two year career Mayra Etayo has worked with over 50 local, national and international companies including, American Red Cross, March of Dimes, and AMACO Oil, the Village of Key Biscayne, encompassing media relations and press conferences, community relations, events production, newsletters, and crises communications.