Tourism branding

Improved signage, beautification
among Brooks’ recommendations

Tourism consultant hired
to lead branding effort in Madison

By Don Ward

(July 2008) – Roger Brooks, the highly acclaimed tourism consultant from Seattle, has been hired by the City of Madison for $50,000 to develop and implement a branding campaign. The initiative is designed to keep Madison current with national trends in tourism.

Madison Street Workers

Photo by April Wilson

City of Madison street crew workers
(from left) Richard Jester and Johnny
Johnson remove bricks to install
trees along Main Street as part
of the beautification effort.
The project includes flowers,
hanging baskets and benches.

A marketing component of Brook’s proposal was not included because it would have cost another $25,000, city officials said. Instead, Madison Mayor Tim Armstrong hopes to generate enough money to implement the marketing component using someone local.
“We had several excellent proposals to consider, but we figured we only had one shot at this, so we went with Roger Brooks, even though he was among the most expensive,” Armstrong said.
Brooks, whose company is Destination Development Inc., visited Madison in April and conducted an assessment of the town. He presented much of his findings at a three-hour community forum before leaving.
The results of his study are now available in a report on hand at the Madison Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, 601 W. First St. The public can request a copy of the report. Brooks’ visit was sponsored in part by the Indiana Department of Tourism. He is scheduled to visit several other Indiana towns this year, including Vevay.
Brooks’ assessment of Madison provides an unbiased overview of the community and how it is seen by the visitor. The report includes a “review of local marketing efforts, signage, attractions, critical mass, retail mix, ease of getting around, customer service, visitor amenities such as parking and public restrooms, overall appeal and the community’s ability to attract overnight visitors.”
“There are some great, practical, inexpensive ideas in this report,” said Linda Lytle, CVB Executive Director. “The report stresses the importance of developing Madison as a vital, fun, colorful place for both visitors and citizens alike. We want everyone to look at Madison and say ‘Wow, this is the place to be’.”
Retailers and business owners will find many suggestions for signage and beautification. Brooks sites examples from communities that have significantly increased revenues by creating beautiful streetscapes and providing environments where people want to hang out. With all the great events happening this summer wouldn’t it be great for Madison to look as beautiful as we know it can be. 
“This is the start of Madison’s tourism season so pick up a copy of the report, get inspired and get creative,” Lytle said.
At least two of Brooks’ suggestions already have moved into action – Main Street beautification and a walking tour book that can be sold locally for residents and visitors alike. The mayor’s wife, Debbie, and local retailers Crystal Fulton of the Madison Mercantile and Wanda Gross of Wanda’s Gifts have led an initiative to install flowers, trees and benches along Main Street. The effort is being funded from donations and from profits of social events planned by Debbie Armstrong.
The beautification committee was formed and began its efforts before Brooks arrived in town, however, the initiative addresses one of his primary recommendations.
During his visit, Brooks walked the backstreets of Madison and suggested someone produce a guide to the lesser known attractions and scenes. He showed a sample of a book that was produced in another town where he had done some consulting work.
Anne Fairchild, educational programs director at Lanier Mansion and six other Indiana state historic sites, has taken on that project. The Madison CVB has tentatively agreed to help with publishing costs. The book has to meet with the CVB’s approval before any final agreement is established, Lytle said.
“We are delighted that Fairchild has decided to pursue this,” Lytle said. “We will do what we can to support her.”
According to Fairchild, the project is still in its infancy. “Right now, we are at the ‘wishful thinking stage,’ ” said Fairchild, who moved to Madison in December 2005. “Although we have every intention of doing the project, nothing is organized yet.”
She hopes to start working on the book within the next few weeks.
At this point, Fairchild believe the focus of the book will be architectural treasures in Madison. Her experience in working with museums and local historic societies have helped her notice some interesting things of which others may not be aware, she said.
“We are looking to compile a ‘hidden secrets’ book that will have places with interesting histories,” she said.

• Staff Writer Konnie McCollum contributed to this report.

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