For most traveling into Vermont from the south or west, Bennington is the first town they pass through of a significant size. It is considered the hub of business, culture and community in the southwestern portion of the state, and is known for its deep-rooted history as the first chartered community in the state of Vermont. It was with this in mind that a small group of individuals began an effort to design, develop and implemented a three-part marketing strategy aimed at promoting Bennington as the place where Vermont begins.
In late 2013 the marketing subcommittee of the Bennington Economic Development Partners, applied for and received a $13,000 grant from the United State Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program. It was this funding that moved the project from concept to action.
“There’s only so much brainstorming you can do before you have to start spending money to move a project forward,” said Michael Harrington, Bennington’s Economic and Community Development Director. “The funding from this grant allowed us to develop three critical components that have long been missing from our ‘marketing toolbox.’ These include a marketing brochure, a recruitment folder and an up-to-date promotional video series,” Harrington went on to say. These three components were the foundation to the grant application, and focused the group’s energy on the creation of very tangible objectives.
Over a year was spent developing templates and designing the brand, but the most significant effort was the collection of both video and photographs to be used in the material. “We found that there was a severe lack of current, high-quality photos and video for us to use, and it required us to go out and create most of our own content. We used some photos from local photographers, but all our video was shot specifically for this project, and encompasses a year-full of events and seasons.” Said Harrington.
The brochure, recruitment folder and videos will be used to share the vitality and uniqueness of Bennington’s culture, community and business opportunities. These elements become increasingly necessary when at tradeshows, business expos, or when doing targeted business recruitment to showcase the best of Bennington. All of these components link back the creation of a very simple and clean promotional website strategically titled VermontBeginsHere.com (link is external). It is the belief that Vermont truly begins in Bennington that guided this group through the development of this material, and which will serve as the guiding vision for future efforts. Harrington sees this effort as the launching point for a more comprehensive outreach campaign. “The Town is regularly asked about its business recruitment and retention efforts, and for so long we have needed to qualify our response because we were operating without the fundamental components of a good marketing and recruitment strategy. This project has given us to the tools we need and I’m proud to have been able to work with the team to develop such high quality material to enhance our ability to bring new families, business people and visitors to Bennington.”
The Town of Bennington launched a teaser video with a link to the website with the full video on their Facebook page on Tuesday evening and within 12 hours the post had received over 2,000 views, 221 likes, and 832 clicks. The rollout for this marketing campaign will continue through the summer of 2015, and the updating of the website and expansion of the video content will be ongoing.