Wednesday, October 10, 2012

In the words of Robert Hunter,

Sometimes the lights all shining on me,
Other times I can barely see
Lately it occurs to me
What a long strange trip it's been

Marketing Your City/Company/Organization

Because of my recent experiences researching many locations, at this point I’m going to make a few suggestions for this kind of marketing in general.  Tailor the information AND its presentation to your audience.  In the case of artists and engineers, if anything has a date on it, keep the date current.  A letter dated 2008 will be noticed, and you will be judged for “uncraftsman-like” behavior.  Also, if you are promoting opportunities, don’t include a brochure touting an annual event that is not current.  It makes one wonder.  One more thing: answer the questions you are asked.  If you do not understand the question, ask for clarification.  If asked the same question again, assume you did not answer sufficiently the first time, do not sigh and repeat the original answer.  Yes, this happened to me, several times.  As you can imagine, it is very frustrating to need information and not be able to get it.  Here’s an over-simplified example:

          A: Why is the sky blue?
          B: We often have rainbows here.
          A: Cool; why is the sky blue?
          B: Not that it rains here that much.

So, the arts group is not the best (YMMV), but the town and its residents are pretty darn cool.   Oil City lost most of its major industry in a very short time, so there are lots of buildings and houses available.  I started thinking that I might buy a storefront and make an apartment to go with it.  To cut to the chase, I put in an offer on a two-storey brick house that had been zoned commercial/residential.  It had a fantastic florida-type room facing the street and a huge adjacent dining area that could be combined as a studio/gallery/store.  The house needed a little work, but the asking price was $59,000.  I ended up withdrawing my offer for various reasons; it didn’t meet all of my listed needs.
Serendipity Raises its Hand
I drove to Oil City; it was about 6 hours, so it seemed reasonable.  The last town you pass through before Oil City is Franklin.  OMG! It is one of the cutest towns you have ever seen.  It is a little like the Truman Show town, but not creepy at all. 
The first person I planned to meet there was with the Chamber of Commerce.  As I walked up the steps to her office, she was escorting a visitor out.  I was introduced to the visitor who just happened to be the realtor, Dawn Beith-Caiarelli, I had an appointment with later in the day.  Dawn was a veritable fountain of information; she had grown up in Franklin and moved away to recently return, so she saw both sides of the town and, as almost everyone I met, was a grand supporter of Franklin.  BIG rivalry between Oil City and Franklin.  Huge.  We toured the town and a few houses I was interested in and she walked be a few blocks to City Hall to meet the one-woman force of nature that is Ronnie Beith.  Did I mention that Franklin is known as “a small town with great festivals?”
From what I understand, that is a result of the efforts of Ronnie and her late husband and their support of the arts.  Everyone I spoke with in the county (yes, even in Oil City) asked me if I’d met Ronnie Beith yet.  So, back to my check list; community? Check!
AND, the Episcopal churches in both cities have Tiffany windows.
Next, I research a few other places, just in case I might have missed something…


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