By DAVID KRIER
The “Wild Turkey Hunting Capital of Wisconsin” may be no more if a new brand image proposed for Boscobel takes off as anticipated.
Boscobel Economic Development Coordinator Tim Jacobsen and the Boscobel Chamber of Commerce’s Marketing Committee have been working over the past several months to come up with more focused community branding and a new slogan.
The new brand image proposed for Boscobel is: “Outdoor Recreation Capital of Wisconsin” with the tagline “Pack Up Your Gear and Drive Here!”
Jacobson and the Marketing Committee have toiled over the past few months with a marketing analysis for the Boscobel business community. They developed a 50-page marketing plan with a series of recommendations to improve the business climate; attractiveness of the community for drawing in visitors, new residents and businesses; and quality of life for people who already live and work here.
At the core of their recommendations are the new logo, slogan and tagline for the community that highlights the natural and scenic attributes of Boscobel and the outdoor recreational possibilities.
“Boscobel can’t be beat,” said Jacobson, “in terms of the shear volume and quality of opportunities to have fun in our beautiful, natural surroundings. There are more than 44,000 acres of publicly-accessible land in and around Boscobel in the scenic Lower Wisconsin Riverway, parks and nature preserves,” Jacobson continued. “We have world-class trout streams, great bicycling opportunities with expansive trails in the planning process, kayaking, canoeing, camping, hiking, golf, bird watching, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and ice skating. There are nearby caves and ancient effigy mounds to explore, too!”
“The concept of Boscobel as the ‘Outdoor Recreation Capital’ seemed like a no-brainer as our marketing committee hosted a series of focus groups with local community leaders who discussed the best attributes of Boscobel,” said Eric Swan, chair of the committee and Community Relations Director for Gundersen Boscobel Area Hospitals and Clinics. “Over and over again, local folks emphasized how much they love the scenery and all the things people can enjoy outdoors.”
The logo and slogan idea came to Jacobson one night in January after a focus group session with community leaders.
“I spent all day and all evening immersed in writing and revising the marketing plan and thinking about the ideas proposed by our focus group participants,” Jacobson said. “As I crawled in bed for the night, I was trying to think through all of the possible commonalities among dozens of suggested slogans, and then an image of the logo and the ‘Outdoor Recreation Capital’ idea just popped in my head. I could hardly go to sleep after that.”
The marketing plan with the new logo and slogan and a series of recommendations was first presented by Jacobson last Wednesday to a group of about twenty community leaders consisting primarily of members of the Chamber board, Developers board, the mayor and city administrator. Jacobson followed that with a presentation during the Chamber Annual Banquet at the Cottonwood on Saturday evening.
The Chamber Marketing Committee has asked that the Chamber and Developers boards of directors consider and adopt the proposal at their February meetings. Likewise, the city council will be asked to adopt the proposal this month.
The building block of this proposal is the adoption of the new brand image, with a series of recommendations that would then build upon the concept. A key recommendation in the proposal is the development of a dynamic website that offers residents and visitors interactive maps that would serve to lower the barriers to access the abundance of activities available. For example, while in the Boscobel area, there are thousands of acres of publicly accessible land but, presently, we have limited tools to promote them and direct people on how they can access recreational options. The proposed map would give users the ability to select an activity; then sections of the map would highlight, providing instructions on where and how the activity can be enjoyed.
Swan pointed out benefits of shifting the brand image for the community. “This is a much more inclusive concept than limiting ourselves to pitching Boscobel as a great place to go turkey hunting. We’re thrilled to be known for turkey hunting opportunities, but the majority of our visitors come here for entirely different reasons, including thousands of people who travel here each summer to go canoeing on the Wisconsin River. This is an amazingly fun place to enjoy nature, and we need to let the world know about the range of activities. Our goal in this process is to more effectively connect residents and visitors with the vast number of outdoor recreation option available in Boscobel.”
“People will travel to a community and spend their dollars there only for experiential reasons,” Jacobson explained. “We have to demonstrate to them what they can do in and around the community, not merely what they can see when they get here.”
Jacobson added that the goal of the marketing plan goes far beyond advertising-related steps like a new logo and slogan. “We have to be able to deliver on a brand promise to the people we want to attract to this community. We already have unparalleled quality of outdoor resources, but we can’t rest on our laurels or accept the status quo. We need to keep striving to improve what we have to offer, including things that will make the outdoor experience even better, such as the Wisconsin River Trail Project.”
“The marketing recommendations are also about reinforcing community pride and encouraging private and public investment,” said Swan. “People here sometimes take our beautiful landscape and tens of thousands of acres of publicly accessible land for granted. It’s what they’ve always known and expected. They don’t necessarily appreciate how much someone from outside the area can be awed by what Boscobel has to offer.”
Jacobson echoed that sentiment. “My wife, Lisa, likes to tell the story of her first encounter with Boscobel. She drove here for a job interview at the school. When she crossed the Wisconsin River bridge, she was struck by the natural beauty, and she immediately concluded that this was the place where she wanted to live and eventually retire.”
Recommendations to the City, Chamber and Boscobel Developers are extensive and include several facets.
Recommended projects for the city include:
• Create a disc golf course.
• Develop a bike terrain park and related mountain bike trails.
• Partner with the Mississippi Valley Conservancy to enhance and promote the use of the Boscobel Bluffs Nature Preserve (former McNamee land) along Highway MS.
• Visual improvements such as landscaping around and shielding parking areas.
The report also includes collaborative projects between the Chamber, Developers and the City to partner with the Wisconsin River Trail project to ensure it becomes a reality, as well as develop a farmers market and work collaboratively to foster/incentivize a fine dining establishment.
Other collaborative efforts include:
• Foster/incentivize the opening of a clothing store and one or more specialty food shops, as well as a fine art gallery and at least one community art festival.
• Eliminate blight through a combination of ordinances and incentives for storefront improvement.
• Foster/incentivize the construction of additional mid-market residential housing.
• Work collaboratively with Boscobel Area Schools to ensure “it’s top-notch and becomes the envy of surrounding communities.”
The report also proposes several “action steps” for the Chamber of Commerce, including:
• Create a new, visually-stunning website dedicated to the goal of attracting tourists and shoppers to Boscobel from a wide area.
• More effectively utilize social media marketing such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
• Begin building a database of postal addresses and e-mail addresses of potential visitors and shoppers.
• Create a series of short marketing videos that can be used on social media and the website to build excitement about Boscobel and to improve its image.
• Develop an editorial calendar for use in seeking positive news stories and to assist with the use of social media marketing throughout the year.
• Establish a farmers market in the spring, summer and fall.