EASLEY — The marketing strategy for The Doodle Trail needs to be built around what’s coming to the area, not what’s already here, if it is to be successful, members of the Easley Downtown Business Association were told.
Blake Sanders of Alta Planning, the firm that designed the trail, and Tee Coker of Arnett Muldrow and Associates, a firm specializing in marketing, attended a recent EDBA meeting to take questions and make suggestions to local business owners on topics from how to gauge the marketplace’s demographics to capturing new customers.
Sanders stressed during his presentation several points for downtown Easley business owners when considering marketing to an influx of new business as a result of The Doodle Trail, including remembering each situation with each new trail is different.
“There is no magical formula or guideline for success because each community trail is different and has to be approached based on the uniqueness of the community,” Sanders said. “A marketing strategy for The Doodle Trail has to be built on what’s coming here, not what you already have. The marketing strategy has to be designed to capture the business of those from outside the area and there are ways to do just that, but it takes work and time.”
One of the items Sanders and Coker discussed was the initiation of a marketing study to determine the demographics of new visitors to Pickens County as a result of The Doodle Trail, both in age and geographic location. The information contained in the study would then give business owners a template for designing marketing to attract users of the trail.
“Signage detailing riding times to local businesses is one way to get the message out to riders and a way to bring them all the way into downtown,” Sanders said. “Some of the marketing is simply letting riders know what’s local and how to reach it. The marketing study, though, will give you an idea of how to market to the specific groups and what the market actually is for potential customers.”
As concerns the study, Sanders suggested the EDBA attempt to work hand in hand with the city of Easley to coordinate the effort.
Coker suggested more interaction between the business owners in Pickens and Easley as an important part of the equation.
“When it comes to the success of The Doodle Trail, Pickens and Easley are dependent on one another and need success at both ends of the trail for it to be successful,” Coker said. “I strongly encourage you to engage the city of Pickens and business owners and see how they are marketing. They have projects in mind and are working toward that end, Easley could benefit from seeing their approach, as well as the unique approaches of other cities who have used a project such as The Doodle Trail to stimulate economic growth.”
How does a city like Easley or Pickens take advantage of The Doodle Trail?
“You have to determine how you want downtown to stand out and how to make it attractive to riders,” Coker said. “Then you have to consider how you brand yourself and develop that brand or identification for riders or visitors to attract their attention to your business.”
Business owners and members of the EDBA left the meeting with an idea of how to proceed, an understanding time will be needed, but more importantly, an idea of the importance of The Doodle Trail project in economic development, especially in the town’s center.
“The first trick of downtown revitalization and renovation are restaurants and retail,” Coker said. “They will serve as an anchor for other businesses and will be the initial draw into downtown for riders. Once they get to downtown, the right marketing will help get them into the businesses.”
Reach D. C. Moody at 864-855-0355.