Marketing campaign begins

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BRATTLEBORO — A new marketing campaign is intended to shine a light on the unique activities in town and the character of the community.

"There's so many people out there that don't know we exist, who fall in love with us as soon as they know about us," Downtown Brattleboro Alliance Executive Director Stephanie Bonin said. "I'm really excited at the thought of someone who doesn't know about Brattleboro being introduced to us via this campaign and what a success that will be."

Her group and the Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce announced Wednesday the launch of their six-month "Love Brattleboro VT" marketing campaign. A website has been created at lovebrattleborovt.com.

Bonin said the community hosts more than 1,000 arts and cultural events in Brattleboro annually including the Harris Hill Ski Jump, Strolling of the Heifers, Retreat Farm Food Truck Round-Up and monthly Gallery Walks. Vermont gets almost 13 million visitors each year, accounting for nearly $2.8 billion in annual spending on lodging, food, drink, goods, and services, according to a news release about the campaign.

Funding for the marketing initiative had been approved in March at Brattleboro's annual Representative Town Meeting. The chamber and DBA requested $42,119, which had been 10 percent of revenue collected for rooms and meals taxes in 2018.

In November, the Select Board accepted a plan presented by the groups to hire Penniless Projects of South Newfane. The company reports to a steering committee made up of chamber Executive Director Kate O'Connor; Bonin; Curtiss Reed Jr., executive director of the Vermont Partnership for Fairness and Diversity; Lindsay Fahey, chief operating officer at Retreat Farm; and Zon Eastes, founder and director of Juno Orchestra.

The campaign "will appeal widely and to a more specific LGBTQIA+ audience," states the news release, referring to an initialism used for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, and asexual or allied. "LGBTQIA+ communities have a special affinity for Vermont as the first in the United States to adopt a same sex civil union law. In fact, on July 1, 2000, Brattleboro was the site of the first civil union joining a same-sex couple."

O'Connor said ads will be purchased in some magazines and newspapers, with Penniless Projects selecting publications around New England with readerships in places where Brattleboro would be within driving distance. Radio also will be used.

Press releases will be sent to regional media and online travel sites. And social media will be used.

O'Connor said each a month, the person who posts the "cutest" photo using the #lovebrattleborovt hashtag will be selected to win a $100 gift certificate to a Brattleboro business of their choice. The contest runs through July.

The campaign is set to last through the town's fiscal year, which ends June 30. But the chamber and DBA hope to get another round of funding approved.

O'Connor said she would anticipate a continuation of the campaign.

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"Consistency is key here," she said. "You know, the more people see the same thing, the more it's going to be drilled into their minds."

Graphics for the campaign can be changed to include different patterns such as cows, craft beer and vegetables. O'Connor said she likes how a lot of different segments of the population can be targeted.

Folks in the community had been consulted to see if the campaign fits with community goals around expanding diversity and being inclusive.

"So this has been vetted," O'Connor said. "We want to make sure we were on the right path, so hopefully what we've done is seen as a positive thing."

O'Connor described the graphics and campaign as "colorful, happy and easy."

"You can do so much with changing it up," she said, "but it's a basic thing that can be used in so many different ways and it can outlive the funding."

Companies and organizations will be encouraged to use the graphics.

The project is meant to be conducive to achieving shared goals of the chamber, DBA and town.

"With the campaign, we're hoping — and we put a lot of work into it — people will see it and if you're close, you'll say, 'Hey, I should go visit Brattleboro.' And then if they're here to hike, eat or shop, they'll explore more of the town," O'Connor said. "And in turn, it would be wonderful if they extended their stay or came back again or ultimately say, 'Hey, this is a great community. I want to live here.'"

As a former Select Board member, O'Connor said the town spends a lot of time thinking about how to make the community an affordable place to live. By increasing rooms and meals tax revenue, property taxes could be kept down.

Bonin said the project "fits in beautifully" with the DBA's mission.

"Our goal is to support a vibrant and sustainable community that we all can enjoy," she said. "It's essential that we have people enjoying our community right alongside of us. And we can all benefit from that."

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com, at @CMaysBR on Twitter and 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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