Local funds a win-win for Brattleboro
Variations on a theme: The “Love Brattleboro” campaign is in its third phase.

Local funds a win-win for Brattleboro

Visitor dollars from more robust tourism help keep our merchants in the black, which in turn allows them to generously support our local causes, social services, and the arts

BRATTLEBORO — I would like to take the opportunity to express my sincere thanks to members of Brattleboro's Representative Town Meeting for the support expressed in the thumbs-up vote you delivered for the Community Marketing Initiative on March 19.

Your approval is an investment in the future economic development of the town, which has never done any formal, municipally driven cheerleading, to my knowledge. It has always relied on organizations like the Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce (BACC) or Downtown Brattleboro Alliance (DBA) to get the word out to the public that this little corner of the state is a great place to work, play, and maybe even live!

In 2018, BACC and DBA spearheaded a marketing venture that would become the Community Marketing Initiative. Thanks to the representatives of Brattleboro Town Meeting, we receive a tenth of the 1-percent meals and rooms tax, and this funding fuels our marketing outreach.

From the initial seed money, #LoveBrattleboroVT was born.

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We hired a local marketing company - Catalyst Communications (formerly Penniless Projects) - which helped us to discern our message, articulate it, and put it to work.

Daimian Lix created the images - “love” spelled out in fanciful, eye-catching type inspired by all things Brattleboro - and they went everywhere! Our hashtagged messages hit the social media platforms wherever we could place them, and with your help they reached well beyond our imagination.

For the second phase, we contracted with Blue Whale Public Relations, and they hit the ground running, sending us the very best influencers, social media mavens, blog writers, and columnists, each one boasting many thousands of devoted followers.

They visit, they experience, they write, they photograph, and most importantly: They post!

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The word is getting out there - and in a very big way.

Impressions are those opportunities when our content - our story - is displayed for the public to view, and since we began working with BWPR, more than 405 million impressions have occurred through press, publicity, and influencers combined.

Brattleboro and our partner businesses and organizations have been featured in more than 45 stories with multiple press placements in USA Today and USA Today 10Best. Additionally, we've been featured on MSN Travel, News Break, Orbitz, Well+Good, and VinePair - the list continues.

Our social media audience - Facebook and Instagram - has grown by over 33 percent, with an impressive engagement rate of 7.5 percent. By the way, 5 percent is considered above average.

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Our phase three is continuing the excellent work begun by Blue Whale Public Relations. With their lead, we're lining up some extraordinary writers and influencers well into fall.

You see, that's what marketing is all about - keeping it coming. It's not like turning on a lamp when you need light. Marketing needs to be ongoing and tenaciously persistent. We need to be constantly reminding the vacationing public that we are here and to “come up and see us sometime.”

It's really about telling the Brattleboro story and using as many voices as are willing to share it. Since we began hosting writers in 2021, more than 100 local businesses and individuals have generously stepped up to help us do so.

They host meals for these writers in their restaurants and cafés, and stays in their hotels and inns; they give tours of their galleries, distilleries, breweries and facilities. They meet with them personally and share their passions and the countless reasons why they call this town home. This is truly a community effort.

Creating more robust tourism can only help Brattleboro. Those visitor dollars help keep our merchants in the black, which in turn allows them to generously support our local causes, social services, and arts enhancement efforts.

Visitors who choose to live here might buy homes and raise families. They might relocate or establish new businesses. They further contribute to growing an economy that really needs to grow.

It's a win-win for Brattleboro, and it comes at a time when we're all struggling to throw off the effects of a pandemic that is now in its third year: isolation, inflation, shrinking workforce. Insert your concern here.

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From its inception, CMI's goal has always been to cast a welcoming net to tourists. We have reached out to all potential visitors, of course, but we have energized much of our efforts to those for whom it may never have occurred that Brattleboro might be a great place to visit.

There are so many Brattleboro stories that have never been told and countless more from underacknowledged communities - businesses, organizations, and individuals that have never been asked.

In years one and two, we reached out to the LGBTQ and BIPOC communities. And as we explored greater Brattleboro to find those stories for Blue Whale to pitch to the writers, it confirmed what we always knew: that Brattleboro's fabric was by far richer and infinitely more diverse than many people realize.

We boast amazing cultural and natural assets of which most communities can only dream. CMI is thrilled to be sharing those stories! And hey - don't take my word for it. You can read them for yourself at lovebrattleborovt.com.

Throughout its storied past, Brattleboro has received countless accolades. We were All-American City in 1956 (sponsored by Look magazine), a best small town in 1993 and 1995 (The 100 Best Small Towns in America), one of 20 Dream Towns in 2004 (Outside magazine), and one of the 20 Greenest Towns, according to Vegetarian Times in 2005.

My favorite? - “8 Great Places You've Never Heard of” (Mother Earth News, 2007).

Now, this is just a sampling of the numerous laurels bestowed upon our wonderful community. The Community Marketing Initiative is helping Brattleboro to garner even more of them.

You see, we've known all along it was true.

But it's always nice to hear someone else say it.

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