By JOHN KLINE
---- — GOSHEN — Name recognition was a major topic at the Goshen City Council meeting Tuesday evening, where council members voted to contribute $25,000 toward a new marketing campaign aimed at putting Goshen on the map both regionally and nationally.
Leading the drive for the new campaign, which will also involve work with the Goshen Chamber of Commerce, Goshen Community Schools and Goshen College, is Eyedart Creative Studio, a full-service marketing and communications agency based in downtown Goshen.
“We were approached by the Chamber, Goshen Community Schools and the city of Goshen to look at the next steps of the 2010 branding study that was done by the Chamber of Commerce,” said Grace Bonewitz, a partner with Eyedart Creative Studio. “They spent about $90,000 and had a really, really good firm come in and do qualitative and quantitative research in our community.”
Using the research and findings from that 2010 study as a base, Bonewitz said the Eyedart team was able to come up with a new marketing idea, the “Good of Goshen” program, which aims to sharply focus the implementation of the Goshen brand, identified through the 2010 study as “Goshen: Common Good. Uncommonly Great,” in the areas of greatest need, with the long-term intent of engaging community-wide pride and advocacy for the community.
“Working together, the ‘Good of Goshen’ program will change perceptions and build pride in Goshen’s uncommonly great assets,” Bonewitz said.
Through the new program, Bonewitz said the push moving forward will be to work with the city, the chamber, Goshen Community Schools and Goshen College to achieve a variety of goals, a sampling of which include: attracting and retaining students; supporting quality of life initiatives; attracting diverse businesses; engaging the Hispanic community; increasing awareness of Goshen as a destination in the Michiana region; and encouraging middle-to high-income earners to live and work in Goshen.
In discussing the ideal audience for such a campaign, Bonewitz noted that the 2010 study identified people in the age range of 29 to 39 earning approximately $36,000 to $47,000 a year as the target of choice when it comes to future marketing efforts.
“So we’ll work very closely on how we’re going to reach those groups,” Bonewitz said. “The communication modes that we’re using are based on what those target audiences are watching and reading and doing.”
In providing a brief overview of how she anticipates the one year marketing program to proceed, Bonewitz first provided council members with a breakdown of how she anticipates the money being provided by the council and its three partners — each is providing a $25,000 contribution — will be utilized.
By far the largest portion of the funding, 36 percent overall, will go toward digital storytelling, which Bonewitz called the cornerstone of the “Good of Goshen” program.
“A lot of us grew up with storytelling with our grandparents or parents reading to us, which is awesome and still needs to remain,” Bonewitz said. “But moving into the 21st Century, there are so many ways to tell stories now: video; audio; music; photos. So that’s what we’re going to target with this: to tell the uncommonly great stories that we know exist in our community.”
As part of that storytelling initiative, Eyedart will be doing 48 feature stories over the course of a year, the topics of which will be divided equally among the four partners with the goal of highlighting their respective strengths.
Once the stories are completed, each will then be uploaded to a new website portal specifically created to highlight the program. Bonewitz likened the page to what the state of Michigan is doing with its www.michigan.org website and its connection to the state’s “Pure Michigan” campaign.
The campaign will also take advantage of other marketing tools such as billboards, T-shirts, social media accounts, advertising in newspapers, magazines and television.
“They say that cities are taken more seriously, or even a business is taken more seriously, when people outside of your community start talking about you,” Bonewitz said. “So that’s what we want to do with this program, get Goshen on the map outside of the region even.”
Bonewitz said current plans have the kickoff occurring during the Elkhart County Fair Parade on July 20, where participants will wear T-shirts promoting the new campaign, hand out flyers and cards with information and a link to the new website, etc.
“We know that’s a huge activity and event that’s happening in our community,” Bonewitz said of the parade. “We would have the website up and stories starting to curate and being pushed into there already. We’re suggesting that we get all the people like yourselves who love our community and show how much we love the community by being in the parade.”
Council member Jeremy Stutsman noted his support that the campaign will be led by a homegrown company that truly knows the Goshen community and what makes it tick.
“I’m just really happy to know that we’ve got a local group that’s going to be working on this for us,” Stutsman said. “They know Goshen already and we don’t have to tell them what we want them to say.”