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Promoting Grand Rapids

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If you were going to promote Grand Rapids to a company or individuals looking to relocate, how would you do it? What would you focus on? What would be the core of your promotion?

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Well, one would be that it's conveniently located "between" Chicago and Detroit. As well as a great location next to all the attractions and lifestyle of the greatest inland sea.

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No hating, but as far as I can tell any mention of "conviently located between Chicago and Detroit" usually puts away the thought of relocating. Especially when your a mom and dad looking to relocate to a safe city. I actually have a story for this, but its basicly a Detroit Hate story, I will remove myself from going further.

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If someone decided not to move here, because it's convenienly located two hours from Detroit, I marvel at the naiveness. Alot of people have this image of Detroit. Metro Detroit is one of the most upscale areas in the country. I don't want to hear your story Rizz, but I feel, A company looking to move here, would be a hell of alot less ignorant, than some family that hated Detroit. To me, that sounds alot like Rockford mom who didn't want her kids to see the word sex on a billboard.

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As an unofficial cheerleader for the great city of Grand Rapids, I base my promotions and marketing strategies on who my audience is and what I want them to "leave" with.

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Marketing Grand Rapids always seems to go the wrong way. I wonder why? Grand Rapids gets marketed along with the rest of Metro Grand Rapids or I should say, Metro Muskegon, Metro Holland, Metro Grand Haven, see where I'm going? People need a single place to look to i.e. a single city, not a whole region. People like simple, yet they need to be guided into a region, not thrusted into a broad paintstroke of a region that is West Michigan. By the way, I believe the region covers the tip of the Northern Lower all the way to the Michigan-Indiana border.

If we market Grand Rapids, market Grand Rapids. The material seems to reflect the Lake shore suburbs more with words like "Lake Michigan," "fun in the sun," "beautiful beaches," "bedroom communities." With a less on the VIBRANT CITY of Grand Rapids. Theres more to West Michigan then just a blurp about Downtown as a "cool city." We have an identity all our own. Creating that identity isn't helped by lumping us up with an entire region. No small town charm. This dosen't work when I was flipped the bird for walking when it was my turn at the cross-walk, wheres the charm?

The trick here is to convince possible visitors without giving them delusions of grandeur, nor sleepy bedroom community peacefulness.

:dontknow: Maybe this will help:

  • GRPS- Yah, it looks "tuff" because the TV says inner-city Grand Rapids is bad, but specific to the excellent special education programs GRPS is very appealing. Dave alone is a good enough reason to move here.

  • Institutions- They might not be world-class with the exception of a few instutions, they are still gems in a Metro our size. Emphasise more on the contributions of others that help build our city and what it is today.

  • Less facts, people don't seem to respond to a lot of facts. We can't always say how "big" we are, nor can we use the "family values" card. These things throw people, especially when we are trying to attract these so called, "young professionals." I hear this demographic is less woried about making babies and more emphasised on fun living.

  • Be real, not a salesman. I think this has been noted before. People will be more interested in a subject if its not sold to them. If somethings that good they'll know and reciprocate by comming here. If we need to be "sold" to a demographic maybe we shouldn't be selling. I hear word of mouth is pretty good in the niche markets.

No need to get fired up, you know just my .02 cents.

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I think someone may have alluded to what I am about to say already. I think Grand Rapids needs to market itself as a small town until it reaches a certain population and development threshold. The reason that I say that is because newcomers will be pleasantly surprised to learn that Grand Rapids is more like a big city than a small town in many ways. On the other hand, if Grand Rapids is marketed as a big city, people will be very disappointed and come away let down when they find it is a lot more like a small town. In truth, Grand Rapids is at the borderline point between the two realities, but not fully either one.

Like someone said, you have to first know your audience and then market Grand Rapids by in a way that properly sets up your audience expectations.

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Hell it dosen't matter what you label Grand Rapids, I haven't met anyone who wasn't suprised with Grand Rapids. The city name says it all.

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Sales 101: First find out what is important to the person or company you are trying to attract, then taylor what you have to offer to their needs.

Don't talk about "great place to raise a family" if they don't have one.

Don't mention the great beaches if they are prone to skin cancer.

Never assume you know people, and NEVER assume that they are like you.

Your needs and wants are very seldom what everyone else wants.

Research, research, research your product (Grand Rapids/West Michigan) and be a "maven".

Research, research, research your audience and what their needs are.

Buy the book "The Tipping Point" by Malcolm Gladwell. :thumbsup:

I will accept paypal for anything more that you need YankeeFan :thumbsup:

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I think that marketing the size of the city, relationship to area recreational areas and tourist spots, and laid back lifestyle is the right way to go. This is exactly why I like the area. I can work all day, skip home (easy commute), hook up the boat and be on Wabasis Lake (or whichever lake w/in a 40 minute drive) by 7:00. Two good hours of fishing, skiing, etc. Perfect! :)

It's all about the lifestyle.

Trixie

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I am just curious as to how many of you think that the new Art Museum is going to help draw tourists to Grand Rapids. Obviously there will be marketing for the Grand opening, but after all of the hype subsides, do you think that this is going to be an actual draw?

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Most people do want to be "sold" on something, but not in a hardcore, full-of-hype way. And if you're talking about marketing a place, you're not dealing with individuals, so knowing individual needs is not really possible. If you want to market the town, I think a "best of both worlds" strategy is really necessary. The "creative class" is different than the "good-place-to-raise-a-family" group, but both are desireable to attract to the community. Family values are important. A vibrant city is important. Access to a wide variety of recreation is important. Marketing GR on its proximity to the lakeshore is still a good thing (or skiing, or golfing, etc.). But so is the city itself. The "Michigan's West Coast" idea focuses too much on the former, but it is good for the demographic it goes for. Really, though, this campaign would be good if it put a little more focus on the city itself.

Variety is the key though, I think. That's one reason I love the town enough that I moved back. There is more variety here than in most towns this size. If people are brought here on the idea that it's still a small town, and they find it to be more urban than they believed, that will NOT be a pleasant surprise. And vice-versa.

Sell it for what it is: a great, growing city that is still close enough to an incredibly wide variety of recreational opportunities, with many small towns, state parks, beaches, etc., in the area. But you can't leave any of the above out, or diminish the importance of each of the factors.

Variety, variety, variety. That's this area's biggest selling point, in my opinion.

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If I were talking to corporate interests, trying to convice them to relocate here, first and foremost I'd talk about cost of living. East and West Coast real estate is insanely expensive for what you get. Young people can actually buy homes here - I did at 28.

Next I'd talk about what kinds of world class companies are already doing business here - Steelcase is headquartered here and they do business all over the world. Why couldn't any other company of their magnitude do the same?

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conveniently located "between" Chicago and Detroit

I would not say that as a selling point to promote a business tp relocate here because although GR is close to same distance to each city, it is an 45 min north of kalamazoo which is closer to each city, located on a more important interstate and rail line, and has a lot of the same offerings for business.

I would promote with cleanliness, civic pride, and potential and try to improve weak areas so they don't stand out

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I think that marketing the size of the city, relationship to area recreational areas and tourist spots, and laid back lifestyle is the right way to go. This is exactly why I like the area. I can work all day, skip home (easy commute), hook up the boat and be on Wabasis Lake (or whichever lake w/in a 40 minute drive) by 7:00. Two good hours of fishing, skiing, etc. Perfect! :)

It's all about the lifestyle.

And if the potentiate doesn't have a boat...?

Check out the replies to Cindi (in Indy) who might be moving here. Folks are assuming that she wants a suburban lawn-based home, that she's a cyclist (she hasn't said so yet!!), and so forth. (Thus far no one's mentioned the hookah bar or the BIG MONSTER TRUCK PULLS!!!)

As Dad said, gotta know your market. (If they don't smoke, don't try to sell them cigarettes.)

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I am just curious as to how many of you think that the new Art Museum is going to help draw tourists to Grand Rapids. Obviously there will be marketing for the Grand opening, but after all of the hype subsides, do you think that this is going to be an actual draw?

The only way the Art Museum is going to be a regional draw following the initial hype of their new building is if they get some really good exhibitions in there. I guess the movie costumes are selling tickets, but what else? The Eames Lounge Chair? Okay, maybe. They're no Peregino exhibit, which really put the GRAM on the map.

And they should definitely talk about their permanent collection. Get more people to discover what they have. They should have a permanent Calder presentation with all of his mobiles, maquettes and drawings. When was the last time the GRAM added to their collection? Was it during the Keeler acquisitions?

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That is a good point. I will also wondering if they would be able to better market the art museum to schools, being that they will have an actual conference hall and other "attractions" to draw groups like this.

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The only way the Art Museum is going to be a regional draw following the initial hype of their new building is if they get some really good exhibitions in there. I guess the movie costumes are selling tickets, but what else? The Eames Lounge Chair? Okay, maybe. They're no Peregino exhibit, which really put the GRAM on the map.

And they should definitely talk about their permanent collection. Get more people to discover what they have. They should have a permanent Calder presentation with all of his mobiles, maquettes and drawings. When was the last time the GRAM added to their collection? Was it during the Keeler acquisitions?

It seems to me that there should be a little of both. A perament collection is all well and good, but after a while everyone would say "I've seen all that stuff already." I would like them to have some permanent and local stuff and some "travelling" stuff, sorta like how the Van Andel Museum does.

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