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One of the new marketing ideas the Downtown Improvement District suggested at the workshop includes setting up a kiosk at the Sarasota Farmers Market. File photo.
Sarasota Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011 5 years ago

DID plans new downtown marketing effort

by: Kurt Schultheis Senior Editor

The Sarasota Downtown Improvement District (DID) is coordinating a new, two-tiered marketing effort for the downtown core.

DID Chairman Ernie Ritz and Operations Manager John Moran held their second marketing meeting at the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce Wednesday, Aug. 24, with city leaders, downtown partnerships and business owners in an effort to maximize marketing efforts.

Participants came up with both a short-term and a long-term marketing approach.

The short-term plan calls for working with the Downtown Sarasota Alliance to create a new, collaborative downtown brochure that will be paid for with grant dollars and advertising from local businesses. Plans call for 100,000 copies of the brochure to be printed by the end of the year for placement all over the area.

Other short-term goals include ramping up a downtown social media effort and creating a downtown ambassador program through which people wearing uniforms could assist visitors looking for places to shop and eat.

The long-term approach calls for a comprehensive research effort from both the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce and the Sarasota Convention and Visitors Bureau. The goal is to find out not only who is coming downtown but also how to bring more people to the area.

Additionally, city of Sarasota Public Information Officer Jan Thornburg will be part of a downtown marketing taskforce that includes chamber President Steve Queior and SCVB President Virginia Haley.

“Creating a buzz downtown with big events is key,” Queior said. “Having a theme we all could build upon would work great, too.”

One theme Queior suggested was “creating the best downtown in the United States.”

The DID members also agreed to spend $2,500 on a full-page advertisement in the upcoming, fall edition of US Airways magazine. The magazine, Haley explained, would include a promotion on Lakewood Ranch, Venice and other areas. The publication is expected to reach 3 milllion people (see note below) traveling over the holidays this year. 

When Ritz expressed concern that downtown Sarasota businesses had found out about the advertising opportunity just days before the magazine’s deadline, Haley suggested that’s why the group representatives had all come together.

“This is one of the reasons we need a collaborative marketing effort for downtown Sarasota,” Haley said. “We can’t let downtown slip through the cracks.”

The groups will meet again at 9 a.m. Sept. 21 at the Sarasota Convention and Visitors Bureau to discuss how their marketing efforts are progressing.

Potential new marketing ideas
The following ideas were suggested at a Downtown Improvement District (DID) workshop to try to maximize DID marketing dollars and find ways to work with other downtown organizations:

• Partner with other downtown organizations

• Create a new downtown brochure and magazine using joint marketing dollars

• Create co-op ads that would appear in national publications, with the help of the Sarasota Convention and Visitors Bureau

• Create a farmers market kiosk at the Sarasota Farmers Market

• Form a downtown ambassador program with volunteers in uniforms helping people navigate downtown

Editor's note: U.S. Airways magazine's estimated airplane passenger readership is 3 million. The original story stated 100,000, a figure presented at a DID marketing workshop. 

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