By Mallory Ragon
Jim McKenna, community marketing manager, presented a summary of the city’s marketing efforts over the last 15 months to the city council on Thursday. Tasked with developing a marketing campaign to bring people to Lee’s Summit and keep people in Lee’s Summit, McKenna said he accomplished a few key efforts during that time.
Approximately $130,000 was invested in the campaign ($1.35 for every man, woman and child who calls Lee’s Summit home, as McKenna described). By creating a collaborative marketing investment environment and enlisting support from community partners ranging from the Lee’s Summit Symphony and Lee’s Summit Downtown Main Street to Paradise Park and Waldo Pizza to University of Central Missouri and Metropolitan Community College – Longview. The development of this network, combined with negotiation of media rates, McKenna says he was able to turn that $130,000 investment into nearly $700,000 in added marketing value for the city’s brand.
The presentation included results from an evaluation led by North Star designed to track the results of these marketing efforts. North Star also provided an initial study before this initiative began, and was used by McKenna’s team as a baseline to assess changes in perceptions and associations with the Lee’s Summit name. Of the approximately 1,000 respondents to the survey, 71% have seen the new logo and McKenna showed a high recall rate among business owners, residents and visitors—showing that people are recognizing the Lee’s Summit "Yours Truly" brand. Among the feedback received, people appear to be showing strong associations between Lee’s Summit and the concepts of family, community, downtown, great schools, great place to live, safe and friendly. The phrases "great place for young professionals," "great for shopping," "great for business," "vibrant downtown" and "vibrant arts culture" also came up in the respondents’ perceptions of the city.
Councilmember Derek Holland praised the marketing manager and his efforts. "Job well done," he said. "One of the best things the city has done is to hire you. You’ve given us direction with the branding and marketing campaign."
Holland went on to question whether we were spending enough.
"I don’t think it’s whoever has the most money in the market wins," McKenna responded. "It’s who’s smart."
Councilmember Bob Johnson did not see the economic value in the project.
"I’m much more interest in sales tax being generated, revenue being generated," he said. "One of the goals of this council is quality jobs and knowledge-based jobs. I understand retail—it’s fine, it’s wonderful. But we need to do this."
City Manager Steve Arbo agreed with Johnson, but noted that the marketing initiatives is a tool to help the city to that end.
"How do we let investors know we’re here?" he asked. "We have to have a vehicle to get the word out. I hope this is something we can be using to create strong, long-term economic growth."
Arbo said he would be asking for two things from the city council: a two-year budget plan that calls for $140,000 in marketing budget in fiscal year 2015 and $125,000 in fiscal year 2016; and a resolution supporting a three-year commitment to the initiative. After the city council reviews and approves the FY15 budget, including the proposed marketing budget, they will have the chance to vote on the resolution. As Arbo noted, such a resolution would not set any kind of legally binding precedent, but would give the council a chance to set their intention for future councils.