Breckenridge Port Authority discusses marketing campaign to boost city’s image

Breckenridge Port Authority members talked about ways the city could boost its image and encourage growth.

Breckenridge Port Authority discussed marketing options for the city on their Wednesday, Sept. 23 meeting. Members listened to Brian Meckler, of Meckler Marketing Consulting, talk about ways the city could boost its image and encourage growth.

Port Authority Vice President Scott Nicholson told Meckler the city’s target audience is rural families, commuting workers and aging community members who would like to keep their independence.

Meckler told Port Authority members that the most important part of any marketing campaign is knowing one’s audience and choosing the right message.

He used the example of how an advertisement like “free trucks” would draw consumers regardless of how it was broadcast, while an advertisement like “buy two meals, get 50 cents off a soda,” wouldn’t draw consumers even with the most widespread broadcasting.

Meckler said the best way to strategize is to hold a discovery session. The session would involve key stakeholders–– people who know the community well.

Meckler said he would conduct the discovery session for the city for a discounted price of $3,000 since the city’s marketing budget is small.

“If anyone had questions, or thoughts as to why things were recommended, or wanted to go in a different direction, you guys [the city] still ultimately have control over where we would go with everything,” Meckler said of the discovery session.

Meckler said even a modest campaign can be expensive, and could total $20,000 over the first year. For example, Meckler worked on Wahpeton’s “well-rounded” campaign 10 years ago, and he said it cost around $60,000 the first year. However, marketing costs peak the first year and are usually much lower the following years, Meckler said.

“Usually the stuff that’s going to use up your money the quickest is going to be the advertising since it’s not cheap to get that out there,” Meckler said.

Port Authority members discussed different advertising options like billboards and TV ads. Meckler said a new website or adding a landing page to the current city website would be beneficial. Most people moving to town aren’t interested in city minutes or garbage pickup dates, but they are interested in school districts and local businesses and opportunities, Meckler said.

“We figure out what information someone potentially moving to town is going to need,” Meckler said of crafting a new website.

Following Meckler’s presentation, Justin Neppl, executive director of Southern Valley Economic Development Authority, and Dennis Larson, owner of Bois de Sioux Mobile Estates, introduced the other members to a project they had been working on.

The project involves attracting a well-known, global manufacturing business to the area, Larson said. Neppl did not delve into specifics, but said there is a funding mechanism that the City of Breckenridge qualifies for that the business wants to use.

The business is currently in conversation with another community, but Neppl said, “if we can position some of the things correctly we can get on their radar and be one of two communities that they consider for a business relocation.”

Neppl said the business would need a 10,000-15,000 square foot building with the possibility of expansion, and that the company would create seven jobs the first year and 24 jobs by the third year. Neppl said a “build the lease” situation may be necessary in order to attract the business. Members delegated future conversation of the project to the Future Development subcommittee.

Port Authority member Nicholson expressed exasperation over the city’s lack of preparedness for situations like this. He said Neppl has been doing a “great job” introducing opportunities, but he doesn't know if the port and community are ready to act on them.

“We have just got to do a better job as a community and as a port to get prepared for these things,” Nicholson said. “We’ve got to get some inventory of ground available and get a plan for building if opportunity presents itself.”

Members also discussed several people potentially interested in the old Drifter Chic location and other storefront properties in Breckenridge. The owner of the building of the now-closed Pizza Hut said he has not yet heard from the franchise about breaking their lease. No plans have been made for the old Cinema building.

Port Authority member Janel Fredericksen of Smith & Strege Ltd. brought up newly acquired property that requires a new zoning description. Port Authority and the Planning Commission would like the property to be used as a personal/recreational zone with potential for small businesses. The property will act as a “buffer” between the industrial and residential zones.

The next Port Authority meeting is Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2020, at 4 p.m.

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