The REB grant of $49,000 was approved after an eight-month application process. During that time the chamber collected matching funds from the towns of Dover and Wilmington, as well as from Mount Snow and the Hermitage, bringing the grant total to $117,000. The chamber’s grant application referenced the area’s 15% population decrease over the last 10 years, as well as a lack of collaboration among independent artisans, as reasons for local economic decline. The chamber also highlights a lack of a cohesive name or brand for the valley. According to chamber executive director Adam Grinold, this grant will allow the valley to change that.
“Our program intends to bring valley businesses together in their marketing,” said Grinold. “The valley has lacked this cohesive effort for many years, according to many people.”
The marketing plan is open to members and non-members of the chamber, and will begin with an open meeting for businesses in July, with the goal of putting together a plan for the next 10 months.
Grinold says the intention is to bring all businesses together into what he calls a “common language.” While a quilt shop and a snowboard shop may have a different customer base, both can be brought together by the use of concurrent fonts, colors, and logos, in an effort to bring customers to the same geographic location. In this case, the valley.
One of the first orders of business will be deciding on an official name for the marketing area. Grinold says the valley has too many names, from the broad “Southern Vermont” to “Mount Snow Valley” and “Deerfield Valley.” For this marketing campaign, Grinold said the businesses would need to come to agreement on a single unifying name for the logo, fonts, and language.
“Other areas use the same logo, language, and description,” said Grinold. “The only way to reach outside of the valley and bring people in is to create that cohesive marketing plan that brings all the players together and creates a common language to speak to the outside world.”
Grinold said an outside marketing firm would be hired for creation of the logo, to provide the valley with a fresh pair of eyes, an outside perspective, and a professional approach to creating a brand. Such a company costs anywhere from $15,000 to $50,000, according to Grinold.
The chamber’s marketing plan will also work to identify a customer base, by looking at the current market of visitors and other segments the valley can target.
The $117,000 will also be used to help individual businesses through mini-grants, intended to help businesses with the various design costs included in coming into compliance with the new plan, like website design and making new signs. Businesses will be able to apply for these mini-grants through the chamber.
While getting the grant approved was a lengthy process, Grinold says implementing the plan will be a tough road, but one he’s ready to travel. “ I’m very excited,” said Grinold, “because now the hard work begins.
“The execution of this will not be easy, but the process of bringing all the valley businesses together for one goal, no one’s opposed to that. This can’t be a one- or two-person-driven project, this has to have wide and broad-based support and involvement.”
Interested business owners can contact Grinold at (802) 464 8092 or Adam@visitvermont.com.