This month, the Georgetowner has an interesting piece about the internal skirmishes at the Georgetown BID over the proper approach to improve the business climate in Georgetown. According to the article, two camps emerged over the $5 million budget in particular:
Few disagreed that marketing is essential to Georgetown’s business campaign. The line in the sand is drawn, however, over how exactly these funds should be appropriated. The resulting skirmish looks microcosmically like a Congressional budgetary war, with one side advocating greater revenue, the other more judicious spending of present funds.
By the end of the meeting, it would appear the first side carried the day; by strawpoll the group decided to reconsidered (upward) the tax assessment structure.
While they are considering their marketing budget and strategy GM has one suggestion for the BID: Update your webpage and initiate an integrated advertising campaign.
Right now the BID runs GeorgetownDC.com, which has a listing for each business with some basic information. Plus it has an events calendar, but it’s not exactly comprehensive. It’s mostly just the Blues Alley and CAG calendar.
The BID’s website is fine upon first glance. But take a gander at Alexandria’s version and compare it to Georgetown’s. It’s not even a close comparison. Alexandria’s is much slicker and stylish. More importantly, it has several factors more information than Georgetown’s. They even have a specialty page just for weddings in Alexandria. Compared to Alexandria’s, Georgetown’s is a barely glorified business directory.
Moreover, Alexandria (through Alexandria Convention and Visitors Association) has incorporated a uniform brand across its website and public advertising. Incorporating swirling old-timey type with a smokey red color scheme and well selected photography, the marketing communicates Alexandria’s strengths: history with a vibrant commercial and entertainment district. Georgetown’s communicates that there are a bunch of stores here, but it’s pretty interchangeable with the website for an outlet mall. It doesn’t really communicate Georgetown’s history, vibrancy, or variety. And when’s the last time you even saw an ad for Georgetown anywhere throughout the region?
The thing is, most people in the DC area already have a pretty well-formed opinion of Georgetown. But unfortunately it is often one-dimensional. A successful advertising campaign could put forward the lesser known gems of Georgetown. It could be a chance for Georgetown to re-introduce itself to a population that sees it primarily as an outdoor mall full of chains and loutish fratboys.
How many DC residents haven’t heard about the new waterfront yet? How many don’t realize we’ve got three different rare or niche bookstores? How many haven’t even been to Dumbarton Oaks?
A well organized marketing campaign could change that and increase business as a result.
Just a thought…