August 14 2012

A New Brand for Mammoth Lakes, CA: Why Marketing is Crucial for Community Success

Marketing is the set of planning and implementation practices that result in a product or service that is both satisfying to customers and results in a profit. Advertisements are only one component of a marketing strategy which also includes market research, media planning, public relations, product pricing, distribution, customer support, sales strategy, and community involvement. Why should urban planners and architects care about urban marketing?

Brand AidMarketing for places, or place branding, has become a hot topic in contemporary urban planning as cities across the United States compete for residents, tourists, and private investment. Branding a city as a “great place to live” or a tourist destination as “the best bang for your buck” has proven to work in Paris, New York City, and the ski resorts of Colorado. Mammoth Lakes, California needs to learn from these experiences.

The most successful urban brands develop organically; but we all can’t be that lucky. Mammoth Lakes, CA hasn’t been getting the best press lately: a low snow season, followed by a legal water war with Los Angeles, CA, and then Municipal Bankruptcy. During this time of economic downturn both the Town and the resort are suffering. So what can a small, resort community do to market itself as a great place to live and an exciting tourist destination?

Participation in place branding is paramount if community leaders want to overcome residents’ mistrust and perception of indifference to their views. Keith Dinnie explains that, “participation increases experimentation and spreads successful ideas.” The Greater Louisville Community Branding Project, a public/private partnership initiative has launched a program in an attempt to “uniquely define itself and then successfully and continuously deliver its brand to the public, the business community, and, indeed, the nation.” This four-phase branding project involves community groups and leaders, an online survey, and an extensive website; however, it will only be successful and sustainable if the public participation is widespread, periodic, and represents all stakeholders, including potential residents and tourists.

There’s an old saying: any press is good press. The idea is that by getting your name out there people will recognize it in the future. It seems as though Mammoth Lakes, CA has been relying too much on repeat patrons and bad press. Do we really want to be known as the dried up, bankrupt town in the eastern sierras? Recently, Mammoth Lakes Tourism began promoting Mammoth as the place to have “the best summer ever!” Unfortunately, Mammoth Lakes will need more than just a seasonal pitch to lure last minute tourists and should begin to focus efforts on a comprehensive, participatory, brand campaign that will launch the community into a better future.

What innovative marketing or branding strategies for cities do you know of?

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

Patricia Kent

Patricia Kent wrote for The GRID between October 2011 and October 2012. During this time she was a graduate student in Community & Regional Planning with a concentration in Latin American Studies at the University of New Mexico. She was also a recent transplant to Mammoth Lakes, CA. Her interests ranged from political theory and public policy to sustainable tourism. A strong advocate for participatory planning practices, her studies focused on community capacity building and economic development. She believed in fostering entrepreneurship in communities. Currently, Patricia is working on economic sustainability policies that benefit both the preservation of the Eastern Sierras as well as the ever-increasing tourist population.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 14th, 2012 at 5:12 pm and is filed under Branding, Community/Economic Development, Content, Environmental Design, Government/Politics, Internet Marketing, Technology, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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