May 28, 2013

I’ve got a vested interested in seeing downtown Medford succeed. My son Chris runs two businesses there (Elements and Beerworks). He also stages Medford’s annual Beer Week in downtown. The reality is that the hard work of people who own businesses in downtown and MURA (Medford Urban Renewal Agency) investments are paying off. It’s great that more people want to join the parade to downtown and that the Mail Tribune recognized this in a recent editorial. Unfortunately, the perception of downtown hasn’t changed much. Why?

Downtown marketing has been non-existent. First, no one can agree on a brand and stick with it. The only brand that had some money behind it over the past three years, Medford’s OldTown, was thrown out by the Heart of Medford team because, I guess, it wasn’t their idea. After deciding to throw away three years of minor branding success by a group of restaurant/bar owners, the Heart of Medford Association created an entirely new brand, Metro Medford.

Didn’t most of us move here to get away from living in a metro area? Branding the downtown as a metropolitan area is almost a joke and it certainly isn’t very appealing to most people who need to spend money there. That’s probably why the name had to come from consultants from a real metropolitan city far, far away. But, OK, let’s go with Metro Medford (it has a nice sound and logo). Now, where’s the money to promote the brand? Since its launch last October, marketing money is nowhere to be seen.

As I point out in my book, marketing doesn’t deal with reality, it deals with perceptions. So, pick a brand (any brand) and spend a ton of money to promote it and you will be successful.  I believe this is the final development needed in downtown Medford.

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