sara carter training and consultancy

Why every town centre and high street needs a place marketing strategy

In the changing landscape of high streets and town centres, the importance of a well-crafted place marketing plan and brand cannot be overstated. These centres serve as the lifeblood of local economies, acting as both vital gathering spots for residents and enticing attractions for visitors. However, amidst evolving consumer preferences and fierce online competition, sustaining their vitality demands strategic planning and a captivating brand identity. Here’s why every high street or town centre should prioritise developing a place marketing plan and brand to attract both visitors and residents.

Enhancing Identity and Differentiation: A distinct place brand is key to standing out in a sea of options available to consumers. It effectively communicates unique attributes, heritage, and offerings that distinguish high streets and town centres from neighbouring areas. Take, for example, Kingston First's adept utilisation of the 'Kingston upon Thames' brand, highlighting the town's rich historical and recreational offerings. Similarly, Durham BID's emphasis on its effective events calendar and community engagement efforts enhances the city's appeal, setting it apart from other districts.

Stimulating Economic Growth: Vibrant high streets and town centres often serve as beacons of economic prosperity. A well-executed place marketing plan can attract businesses, investors, and entrepreneurs, thereby driving job creation and fostering entrepreneurship. Both Kingston First and Durham BID serve as prime examples of how strategic marketing efforts and community-driven initiatives contribute to economic growth and overall success.

Fostering Community Engagement: Place marketing initiatives offer invaluable opportunities for community involvement and collaboration. By engaging residents, businesses, and local organisations in the branding process, these areas can cultivate a sense of ownership and collective responsibility. Engaged communities are more inclined to support local businesses, participate in events, and contribute to the overall vibrancy of the area.

Attracting Visitors and Tourists:

A pivotal aspect of place marketing is the ability to draw in visitors and tourists, enticing them to explore the unique offerings of a high street or town centre. One standout example of this is Kingston First's innovative initiative – the "We are Going on a Bear Hunt" trail. This captivating trail is particularly resonant during Easter, attracting families seeking memorable experiences. The trail invites participants to embark on an exhilarating Bear Hunt through Kingston, promising an adventure filled with charm and discovery. Families are encouraged to follow the trail, immersing themselves in the town's allure while encountering 10 magnificent bear sculptures. Each bear, hand-painted by a different artist, boasts a distinct design inspired by Michael Rosen’s beloved ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ picture book.

This immersive experience not only delights children and adults alike but also serves as a powerful magnet for tourists seeking unique and engaging activities, many of whom share these on social media. By capitalising on the enduring popularity of the 'We're Going on a Bear Hunt' narrative and showcasing the artistic talents of local creatives, Kingston First has successfully crafted an attraction that enhances the town's appeal and draws visitors from far and wide.

Through initiatives like the Bear Hunt trail, Kingston First demonstrates the transformative impact of strategic place marketing in creating memorable experiences that resonate with visitors and contribute to the vibrancy of the local community.

Adapting to Changing Consumer Behaviour: In an era dominated by online shopping and digital experiences, high streets and town centres must evolve to remain relevant. A strategic place marketing plan can redefine these areas as experiential destinations, highlighting the value of in-person interactions, entertainment, and sensory experiences. A robust brand identity reinforces this narrative, compelling consumers to choose the high street over virtual alternatives.

Collaboration Even without Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), collaboration among retailers remains paramount in crafting effective place marketing strategies. By forming partnerships, joining local retail or trade associations, or collaborating with chambers of commerce, local businesses can pool resources and expertise to promote the unique attributes of their high street or town centre. This collaborative approach enables retailers to share costs, amplify marketing efforts, and ultimately drive increased foot traffic and sales. Another great example Is Hornsby After Dark. Hornsby After Dark is an innovative initiative spearheaded by the Hornsby Chamber of Commerce in Sydney, aiming to breathe new life into the nightlife of Hornsby. This initiative serves as a unique opportunity for local businesses and the community to come together, fostering connections and collaboration to revitalise Hornsby's after-hours scene. With the  support of a grant provided by the NSW Government, this initiative has injected vitality into the community by providing essential resources and backing to local businesses and residents alike, ensuring the sustainable success of Hornsby After Dark. Results are very promising with the initiative attracting a growing multitude of patrons eager to explore, connect, and revel in the area.

In conclusion, the success stories of Kingston First, Hornsby After Dark and Durham BID exemplify the transformative power of strategic place marketing and community engagement. By enhancing identity, stimulating economic growth, fostering community engagement, attracting visitors, and adapting to changing consumer behaviour, high streets and town centres can reclaim their status as vibrant hubs of activity and commerce. With cohesive branding and collaborative efforts, every high street or town centre has the potential to thrive as a cherished destination for residents and visitors alike.