CLAYTON — A marketing committee began meeting in February with the purpose of creating a cohesive message and clear goals for Clayton city staff to use as a framework for marketing activities.
According to Lisa Brown, assistant to the city manager, the committee looked into marketing the city as a whole, marketing Medowbrook at Clayton and marketing renewals of the public safety levies.
“You have to have something tangible to market before establishing a targeted campaign and a broader message that we can put out to the public,” Brown said.
She pointed out that once completed the city could use the three-year street resurfacing program as a marketing tool.
“This is a very large activity that has a visible impact on the city and it can demonstrate how the city is investing in Clayton’s future,” Brown told city council.
The committee also focused on two sub-topics for marketing the city. One topic was creating a “business friendly city” and the second topic was attracting future development.
According to Brown, to become a business friendly city the committee looked at creating a Main Street Overlay District. The overlay district would establish development standards and clear guidance for future development, which would be attractive to developers as it would provide a clear plan and standards to comply with.
Another area looked at by the committee was possibly expanding the Main Street Tax Increment Finance District. Currently there are only 15 properties that support the TIF. A TIF district is a public financing method that is used as a subsidy for redevelopment, infrastructure, and other community-improvement projects. Through the use of TIF, municipalities typically divert future property tax revenue increases from a defined area or district toward an economic development project or public improvement project in the community.
Brown said the committee considered expanding the TIF to encompass the entire Main Street corridor to potentially generate more revenue for renovating an improving the Main Street area.
“To attract development the city has to have sites available that meet development needs in order to attract developers,” Brown said.
Director of Development Jack Kuntz creates fact sheets that he sends to potential developers. These fact sheets contain information about potential sites that would meet their criteria. He also places the land on the Jobs Ohio website.
Some of the challenges the city faces when it comes to marketing available properties is that the city lacks land control of the many properties that are available as well as a need to create more proper zoning for available sites that would make it easier to market to developers, according to Brown.
A way to address these two issues, she noted, would be to create a Main Street overlay to provide a framework for creating better and more useful zoning districts along with completing a “Comprehensive Land-use Plan” to assist in developing better zoning standards.
Lastly, the committee examined ways to market the city internally.
“City staff completes a lot of projects that remain in the background and there is no real formal way to inform the residents of what is being done to improve Clayton and making it a better place to live,” Brown said.
She said one strategy considered was to form a “Government Academy.” If formed, it would provide a platform to showcase what the city does and what the city plans to do for its residents as well as inform citizens of what the city staff does on a day-to-day basis.
Brown also discussed marketing strategies for Meadowbrook at Clayton public golf course. During the city’s first full year of ownership in 2016, a lot was learned on how to operate the facility and what issues needed to be addressed. One aspect the committee examined was how to increase the use of Meadowbrook as a community gathering place by expanding community events offered at the facility. This would bring more people in to see the facility and increases the likelihood that they would spend money at the facility while strengthening the city’s relationship with its residents.
The committee developed a marketing plan for Medowbrook and discussed other options that would require more money to implement. Members of the committee felt that it wasn’t possible to move forward with more substantial goals without having a definite picture of what the future holds for Meadowbrook.
Social Media was found to be a cost effective way to market Meadowbrook by reaching a diverse audience for very little money. Facebook was identified as the best platform due to the fact that the vast majority of adults 18 to 65 use Facebook in some manner. To go along with this strategy, the pro shop is moving to a new software platform for booking tee times and other activities. The company providing the software would perform some digital marketing services for the city while capturing customer demographic information so the city can market the facility directly to customers that use the facility.
Three marketing goals were developed for Meadowbrook’s banquet facility: 1 – Increase exposure and rebrand as a public facility. 2 – Increase event rentals over the next three years, and 3 – Increase golf outings.
The committee also focused on ways to promote renewal of the public safety levies for police and fire. Both expire at the end of 2017 and both levies will be placed on the November ballot. To promote the levies the committee recommended educating residents about the high quality of services provided by the police and fire departments and the ongoing need for levy funding.