Written by Art Petrosemolo
All of us who are fortunate to live here at Garden Spot Village (and in Tina and my case, the Sycamore Springs neighborhood) can remember one or two instances when we began researching retirement communities and suddenly were attracted to this community.
It might be as simple as friendly greetings from current residents when you made your first visit, or the different residential options and continuing care that is available if needed. For me, strange as it may seem, it was the swimming pool. I swim daily and it was critical to have a full size pool to swim.
Today, for Chief Marketing Officer Scott Miller and his professional Garden Spot marketing team, competing against nearly 20 other retirement communities just in Lancaster County, getting the word out about what makes Garden Spot special can be daunting and is a fulltime job.
I “got that” from the day I arrived and have helped in a number of ways that I could to help get the story out. During my first year as a resident, I blogged weekly and, today, still blog once or twice a month. Tina and I work as greeters and I write and photograph for each edition of the community’s Destination magazine.
If you have ever worked in marketing, you know you can’t stand on your past successes. Garden Spot, like other retirement locations, needs to grow and attract new residents and the marketing team continues to explore new avenues to reach out to potential residents and always has involved its biggest resource—Garden Spot residents—in its work. Who else is better to sing the praises of the community than those who live here?
Well, our marketing colleagues called on me, among others, in July to help them in two new ventures for them and both were new for me too. Let me explain.
Do you listen to podcasts? They have been around for some time and you may subscribe to one to hear daily or just try one occasionally on an electronic device like a cell phone, computer or tablet. I listen daily to a news podcast called “The Daily” from the New York Times and my day is not complete without listening to The Daily’s Michael Barbarro and his crew.
Well Garden Spot is venturing into the podcast arena and it makes sense. I worked with Scott Miller and Juanita Fox as they produced one of their first podcasts and it was educational, interesting and exciting. The pair both asked me questions and we interacted as colleagues to talk about some of the attributes of Garden Spot that attracted Tina and me to the community that also might be of interest to potential residents.
I was one of the guinea pigs on the project just like “Mikey” in the old LIFE cereal TV ad, “Get Mikey, he’ll (eat) try anything!” Well, the podcast has to be edited and tested before it is released but I am anxious to hear the result.
New podcasts pop up online every day and they are a chance to delve deeply into subjects that interest us. I believe the idea of potential Garden Spot residents listening to current residents talk about their experiences here has merit and I am anxious to hear feedback after they have been used.
Not a week later, the marketing team asked me to work with a video group from Hearst TV (owners of WGAL TV in Lancaster) for a profile piece about my retirement plans and how I balance writing for several newspapers as well as my nautical photography business with semi-retirement and being active in community life.
Two young (30ish) professionals—a videographer form Lancaster and the team leader/producer and videographer from Pittsburgh—spent three days on campus working with residents to tell their stories and the overall story of Garden Spot Village.
I was last on the list and I don’t think it was saving the best for last. Rather, the plan was to take me to several off-campus sites to visit and film with individuals I had written about and they suspected it might be a killer on them and me. It wasn’t a killer but close—tiring and a little stressful, but rewarding.
Both Danielle and Alejandro were perfectionists. I have worked very little in video during my career but understand what has to be done behind the camera before it is turned on to record. I do the same with my photography work. Anyone can press the shutter. It takes a professional to be able to see the shot before it is taken and to coordinate all the pieces. Danielle and Alejandro were at that level.
We started with an informal interview in our Keyser Way sunroom that wasn’t so informal. It took a good hour to set up including clearing the room of furniture and blocking sunlight from our eastern facing windows. Then there was a good hour-plus for me on the interview seat. Danielle asked the questions and I answered in as clear and concise a way as I could about what I do, how I do it, why I like it and how it compliments my living experience here at Garden Spot.
Then, it took another 45 minutes to breakdown, pushing well past the lunch hour. We remedied that, with Tina’s help, raiding our refrigerator for lunchmeat and salads finishing in time to get to our first appointment with Amish carpenter Mike Fisher and Garden Spot Village table builder at 2pm.
Scott Miller introduced me to Mike in early 2017 and he has become a close friend. At 32, he is young enough to be my son but he says he has an “old soul” and describes me as having a “young heart.” We see each other several times a week.
The half-hour with Mike was informal and relaxed and Danielle and Alejandro were pleased with the video images. Then we met Seth Buch, who, with his dad, restored two antique farm tractors and were the subject of a story I did for Lancaster Farming. It was hot but Seth got the tractor going and did everything the videographers wanted him to do while I stayed in the shade of the barn after the initial “greet” shot.
Surprisingly, we were able to stay on schedule and arrived at Lapp’s Dairy at 4 p.m. to talk to David Lapp, who operates the retail operation and was a story subject for me on Lapp’s Ice Cream last year. At 4:30pm, I took Danielle and Alejandro to the “milking parlor” to watch the Lapp’s Jersey cows being milked. They just couldn’t believe it and the cows put on a show for them and the cameras.
By 5pm, sweaty and pretty tired, I treated the crew to large, waffle ice cream cones at Lapp’s and we collapsed on the porch and called it a “wrap.”
It will be the early fall before these short profile videos will be rolled out on a Garden Spot social media campaign and I can’t wait to see how this talented crew will stuff a day of shooting into a compelling four minutes but I know they will.
So my message here is…. When asked to help in Garden Spot marketing, say yes. Who better to show a residence than the person who lives in it? Who better to talk about the opportunities to “live with purpose” than those who are doing it? Who better to say, as Tina and I do very often, “We made the right choice making Garden Spot Village our home.”