By Sue Moore
The Vicksburg Downtown Development Authority (DDA) is now offering Marketing Mondays, one of the new programs aimed at local businesses. Every Monday morning, Kathleen Hoyle, executive director, is available to meet with business people at the Community Center for an hour or more to help them achieve the best results for their marketing dollars.
To check out the program, the South County News made an appointment for its advertising representatives, Sheri Freeland and Brian Decker, to present their game plan to Hoyle for review. Marketing is Hoyle’s expertise stemming from the years she ran her own retail business in Portage. She was the Global Marketing Director of a Fortune 500 company and taught business and marketing at Western Michigan University. She helped successfully market the MidLink facility in Kalamazoo and industrial projects in Grand Rapids.
At the session with Freeland and Decker, she asked them what works best for them. They said the quality of the newspaper helped them to sell advertising and advertisers like the distribution area of the paper with it being mailed to over 8,250 homes in the south county area and placed on newsstands in Portage, Vicksburg, Schoolcraft, and Three Rivers.
What is frustrating to the advertisers is meeting deadlines, Decker and Freeland said.
“They are running a business and their focus is usually not on marketing, so getting commitments and copy decisions is a concern for both parties,” they said.
When Hoyle heard the many success stories of the advertisers, she suggested strategies to make the process easier for advertisers and sales reps. She told them they needed to concentrate on getting those success stories out, suggesting they use them on rate sheets and other materials.
“If you identify the customer’s problem and can provide a solution for them, you have a lot to offer,” she said. “Get to the heart of what the business is selling by being a problem solver for them. Is it service, convenience, price, or quality? Hit the value and customers will respond to that.”
They all agreed that the South County News needs more sales tools, a better awareness of its services, and the need to become more of a problem solver for advertisers by offering design concepts and service with their advertising suggestions that have been shown to work.
Marketing Mondays is not the only new initiative the DDA has to offer local merchants, Hoyle said. The DDA is developing group tours to the village featuring the Historic Village, the Farmers’ Market, and a walking tour of the village. Available programs include a façade fix up revolving fund, a paint program with grants of $200 and a reduced price for paint through the Vicksburg Hardware, a demographic profile of Vicksburg for marketing to businesses in the industrial park, an electronic newsletter, a website, a list of available buildings with help in marketing them, a workforce skills consortium with the school and KRESA, trail development through the village, and working with the village on the historic mill redevelopment. The big push is to get the plans ready to rejuvenate the downtown with new streetscape ideas, through the work of McKenna Associates.