A comprehensive, draft marketing plan, more than 50 pages long, suggests that in spite of its many strengths, the town of Sackville has high hurdles to overcome in selling itself as a desirable place to visit, live and invest.
According to Portfolio, a marketing firm in Moncton, one of the biggest hurdles involves resolving what the consulting firm sees as differences among three distinct groups of residents: “rural/agricultural; urban/Educated/hipster; and, Mount Allison students/faculty.”
Town Council awarded a $15,000 contract to Portfolio last fall to come up with a marketing strategy.
In the course of their research, the consultants conducted one-on-one interviews with 12 “key stakeholders” including business owners; members of the Mount Allison University marketing team; investors; and, representatives of community organizations.
Portfolio conducted a World Café-style community consultation that attracted about 25 people.
The consultants also talked to members of town council and the town’s senior management staff.
In their report, the consultants say they found that the three groups of rural, urban and university-affiliated residents have differing views about what Sackville stands for and how they want it to evolve.
The report goes on to say that the differences manifest themselves in feelings like:
The consultants’ report says that before the town develops strategies to attract new residents, businesses and tourists, it needs to overcome disunity among its three distinct groups of existing residents.
It suggests developing an internal marketing and communications plan to bring resident groups together using social media, a monthly e-mail newsletter or an online site such as Moncton’s Pickle Planet to promote town events, share its successes and give reasons why “residents are so lucky to call Sackville home.”
The consultants also recommend that the town involve Mt. A. and local businesses in developing plans to deal with the long-term implications of the COVID-19 pandemic so that all can “emerge from this global crisis even stronger and more sustainable than before.”
Other recommendations include:
The draft plan also outlines ideas for making Mount Allison students feel welcome, giving businesses more of a voice and attracting visitors. To read this section of the report click here then scroll down to the heading “Make students feel at home in Sackville.”
Sackville Town Council listened to Portfolio’s summary of the draft marketing plan, but there wasn’t much discussion of it because councillors hadn’t had a chance to read the whole report.
Councillor Shawn Mesheau seemed to speak for many of his colleagues when he said he would need to consider the plan before coming up with questions.
“I’m really looking forward to getting into the meat of it,” he said. “There’s some important work that was done here.”
This is the first in a series of reports on Portfolio’s draft marketing plan. To read the entire 50+ page plan posted on the town’s website, click here.