In a unanimous vote, Sackville councillors approved a new marketing plan last Monday that calls on the town to sell itself to its own residents before appealing to outsiders.
“Too many times have we heard in the last four years that there’s not enough voice from the public,” Councillor Andrew Black said as he welcomed the plan’s emphasis on involving citizens in the town’s marketing efforts.
“I thought that was really great,” he added, noting that the marketing plan had identified three distinct groups of residents in Sackville: rural/agriculture; urban/educated/hipsters and Mount Allison students/faculty.
Black said the plan recognized “how important it is to ensure that all of those voices are heard and acknowledged and work together, so there’s a big focus in there to really bring those groups together, which I loved.”
The $15,000 plan drafted by Portfolio, a marketing firm in Moncton, recommends establishing a committee consisting of residents, service club representatives, students and business owners to come up with events that would overcome divisions among the three groups including a Buy Local campaign, a residents-only celebration such as a town picnic and successful local festivals.
Black, who was the only councillor to comment on specific details in the plan, said he appreciated ideas such as a three-fold visitors guide with the map of downtown and a list of stores and restaurants.
“There’s other towns that use this and they do it really well, oftentimes using local artists to sketch out almost a cartoony-looking vision of what the downtown looks like,” he said, adding that he also appreciated the plan’s focus “on developing Lorne Street to expand the downtown area.”
Black welcomed the recommendation that the town set up separate marketing channels for attracting tourists (VisitSackville.com), new residents (MovetoSackville.com), and businesses (InvestinSackville.com).
“I’m hoping that we do go down that road,” he said. “I hope that’s not a back burner thing; I think that’s a great focus.”
Black said he appreciated the plan’s emphasis on evaluating and measuring results as well its recommendation that the town develop its marketing strategy in three phases.
The first phase, ending in April 2021, would focus on engaging residents, students and businesses; the second, ending in April 2022, would focus on attracting visitors, new residents and businesses; and the third, ending in April 2023 would focus on creating a “positioning statement that defines ‘Who are we?’ and ties all of the Town’s assets together.”
Councillor Shawn Mesheau, the only other councillor to comment on the new marketing plan, said he was glad to see that it identified both strengths and weaknesses in the town’s approach to selling itself.
“Now the challenge will be to get it moving forward,” he said, adding that it needs to be combined with other plans that the town has adopted.
They include the town’s strategic plan (adopted February 2017) its business development plan (adopted April 2019) and its recreation master plan (adopted April 2019).
“All of these plans interact,” Mesheau said.
“I believe a key part to seeing this [marketing plan] move forward is to identify resources required and to start receiving quarterly updates on timelines and progress, not only on this plan, but on the other plans and how they’re interacting,” he added.
To read previous coverage of the new marketing plan, click here and here.
To read the plan itself, click here.