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Here’s The Scoop …The Lauderdale-By-The-Sea June, 14 2011 Commission Roundtable … #5 … There Are Studies & There Are Studies …

June 20, 2011 by Barbara

INTERCEPT STUDY …PHONE STUDY …. SPAGHETTI STUDY ….

Dear Readers … Tonight will be the first budget workshop for the 2011-12 fiscal year…Item 3a will be the 5- year Financing and Implementation Plan we paid $20,000 to  RMA to come up with  …It will include the numbers and figures that are “not etched in stone” they stated …Included in the Plan is highly paid personnel… incentives …a bond for a parking garage (yr. 5) … R.O.W infrastructure projects …. Marketing and Branding… Marketing  and Branding were discussed at the June 14, 2011 Comm. Roundtable for a half an hour …It was 30 minutes of redundancy …which  included a tit-for-tat professional-to-professional exchange between Comm. Clottey (a marketer) and the RMA “marketing person” Sharon McCormick on the lack of detail in the report ….Vice Mayor Dodd making it known from the get-go that he was not comfortable going forth at this time without first seeing the report due to be presented on the 20th and the final UM report …. A few direct comprehensive questions about what the surveys were going after came from Comm. Sasser ….Comm. Vincent did his usual “gleaning” to look as though he knew what he was inquiring about and the Mayor was repetitive and all over the place heading away from a consultant to a full-time paid Marketing Director on staff which surprise-surprise is included in the RMA plan  (prev. post) … For this writer when it comes to these surveys and studies …as I previously posted the studies done by these same consultants are public record and easily obtainable… and as far as I am concerned the study that comes to mind when all is said and done is the spaghetti study…Throw it all against the wall and see what the municipality is willing to pay for!…

Item 3e Town Marketing Plan …mostly verbatim…

The Mayor introduced the item and turned it over to the Town Manager..

TM Hoffmann- ” When RMA made the presentation to the commission on the economic development view of the Master Plan they made a number of recommendations and the one that the commission expressed the most immediate interest in was the development of a marketing effort to promote our town businesses. Specifically the hotel and the retail component of our economy and so  you asked RMA to develop a proposal to create a marketing plan for the town and you have their proposal before you tonight. And we also have Chris Brown who’s a principal with RMA who everyone knows and a new face today from RMA, Sharon McCormick who is their head marketing person who works with a number of different cities doing the kinds of things that we hope to do here in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea. They’ve provided a proposal that’s been broken down into several  components. Once is the development of a marketing plan but one that is based on and driven by market research and they propose to use a subcontractor that they’ve used very successfully in the past to do that research and rather than explain this, I think I’d rather turn it over to them to give you a brief overview of what they propose and then the commission can ask them all the questions that you have about this concept.”

Chris Brown- ” Than you Connie, Mayor, Vice Mayor and Commissioners. My name is Chris Brown one of the principals of RMA and you may remember me when we, Kim and I my partner made a presentation about the Master Plan and some of the components and priorities. And Connie is right on in saying that there was a great deal of interest in the marketing portion of that of those priorities. Here with me is one of our associates. Works for RMA, is Sharon McCormick. Sharon hails from Boone North Carolina and although she didn’t go to Alabama she loves Alabama! (there was laughter due to Comm. Sasser’s daughter going to Alabama next year) So, I want you to know that. Hope I got one vote, that was for one vote (laughing). But, anyway Sharon worked on the marketing plan. She’s really been, she’s been in and out of, she’s been in a number of times and she worked for Kim in West Palm Beach for 7 years or so. So, she was really the marketing director for the CRA in West Palm Beach and then she left and then she came to work for us, for our company and she is handling marketing for Dania Beach and still doing a little bit of work for West Palm. They hired a new marketing director but she’s sort of training the new marketing director and the we’re doing work for Pompano Beach and that’s it. And we have the same bits and pieces for example we just, our firm just recruited the marketing director for a Business Improvement District for Downtown Naples. So that was a pretty exciting assignment. We first help create the district and now and then we recruited the executive director. There’s a case where the executive director is going to have to do the marketing plan herself so unless of course they want to hire us. But I think they want to do it in-house and so that will take a little while for them to do that. In any case some of  the, you know a real reason for a marketing plan is to give you the blueprint and give the marketing director. Cause we talked about that in our priorities getting a marketing director for the Town. Have a blueprint and a guideline and a whole strategy for mainly for two things. That is to retain and bring in new businesses, help the hotels, get new customers, bring in new hoteliers to develop new hotels and bring in consumers cause without the consumers ah, you’re not gonna ring anything on the cash register. “…Mr Brown went on to repeat his resume as the marketing director for Delray beach …He stated he was in the shopping center industry prior to that which had a marketing director and stated he would not run a downtown without a marketing director. …”I think although you have an enormous amount of opportunity in the hotel it’s the same thing, you wouldn’t, you want the marketing director to help run and improve the situation with the hotels. But the marketing plan is really the first thing and then follow that is branding. We talked about branding and I think that’s a very important component and a bit in the market, the marketing plan will deal with a little bit of the criteria and the purpose  of a branding program. So it will be very clear why you’re doing branding. But in any case I thin that’s it. I’m gonna turn it over , the whole marketing plan discussion to Sharon.”

Sharon McCormick-  thanked Chris and repeated her name but corrected both the Town Manager and Chris Brown as to what her title was at RMA ..”I’m officially the Director of Communications, is my title with RMA and I’m very delighted to be here tonight and thank you for the opportunity to share this information with you and basically it’s very you know, I’m just gonna highlight this very quickly. I know that Kim and Chris did a very detailed overview with you about creating a comprehensive marketing plan and I just wanted to stress the importance of the market research which includes intercept, phone, merchant surveys and hotel surveys and all of that information together along with several other um, analysis um, lead to ah, a review of the situation, the current situation and once you’ve really identified what the situation is, that you’ve gotten analytically then you can create the um, you can identify the problems and the opportunities. Then once you identify the problems and the opportunities you take those opportunities and create really, really objective, you know strategic objectives and then develop strategies and tactics very detailed tactics in order so that really if anybody picked it up, anybody should be able to pick up the marketing plan and if they have the acumen in the marketing you know, industry be able to implement that plan. So um, that’s how detailed it gets into the tactic section of the plan and ah, then you want to always have an evaluation process so that annually you can really evaluate and measure the economic impact that you’ve had on the community. You make adjustments where necessary. You keep moving in a positive direction and you maintain the authenticity that’s already here and you build on it. Um, so anyway that’s kind of the overview. Um everything that we do is designed to support economic growth and development. The retention of business, the attraction of new businesses. So all of those strategic tactics are designed in order to do that to being the community up. So one of the things I wanted to just briefly go over with you were some of the successes that we had in downtown West Palm Beach actually 2 miles north of downtown in an area called Northwood Village which was my passion for 5 straight years and In less than a 5 year period we took rental rates from about $8 a square foot to $24 a square foot now. We attracted over 44 new businesses to a 6 block area. This was a very, very, very blighted area. Nothing like this, it was very blighted. So it was quite an accomplishment to get it to that level. We changed the environment through lots of incentive programs developed specifically for the needs of those business owners and property owners in that area and we were able to leverage now over 6 million dollars of private investment leveraged by a million and a half in public dollars. So there’s where you know your money can work exponentially. Um, with the marketing properly marketing good incentives to businesses and property owners and the we gained local, national, and international attention through international award programs, through state award programs, through a national magazine and through local media. So all of those things combined you know in a 5 year period just completely transformed a very, very blighted area where you know you’re working with so much more than that. So I’d like to answer any questions that I can and Chris and I will both tag team on whatever you have to ask.”

Comm. Clottey  jumped right in and stated she was disappointed in the detail presented …because there was very little detail included in the type of marketing research they were going to do for us …She asked about the sampling methodology they were using whether it was quota sample, strategy sample, random sample…Sharon McCormick was flustered in her response stating the subcontractor from Profile Market Research should have been there to respond to her… Comm. Clottey shot back he should have included that information in the report and stated RMS “slid over everything that to me is very important.”… Sharon McCormick said the subcontractor worked with them very closely on this…Comm. Clottey said he didn’t need to come he just needed to provide the information…Clottey went on to reveal to Ms. McCormick that she too was a marketer and for the amount of money being charged to do this she hoped we were not “just gonna get a cross tabled table.”… Sharron responded no it would be very detailed …Clottey responded that type of study could be detailed inferring it would still be substandard …Sharon nodded and said ok to complying with Comm. Clottey’s required information…

Comm. Vincent was next and thanked Sharon as he asked “how important is a market research for the town for the projection for the future that, that this town wants to accomplish in going back to the last 2 weeks ago when we had the University of Miami with their presentation. Were you involved? Were you here? Did you, Chris (Brown) I know you, Chris was here. (Sharon responded she read it) Um, taking that into consideration how important is it that we do what you suggest we do to take this town where we want to take it in the next, in the near future.?”…

Sharon McCormick- ” Through the research? Yeah, through intercept and phone surveys. You know they give you totally different bits of information. The intercept surveys obviously gives you information on um, that the people who are visiting and are shopping here and what they’re spending their money on and their preferences and you know how often they come and um, how often they come and um, how you know and, and what they like the most and what they’d like to see where a phone survey’s obviously gives you um, information about people who may or may not be coming and why they may or may not be coming. So it gives you a baseline the first year that you do it. It gives you a baseline to evaluate um. all types of ah, you know initiatives that you put into the place to see how you’re increasing the number of people that are coming to an area.”

Comm. Vincent- asked if they had “established” whether the Town had ever done a marketing plan and if that information was provided to them and had they reviewed it …The TM chimed in to respond about the Goodkin Report (prev.post) which the RMA received (as well as the MPSC/Comms.) The TM was not sure of the year 2004 or 2005 and as has become his M.O. Comm. Vincent “gleaned” from  the TM in the form of mimicking her responses stating he now recalled the report and the content…He added after Chris Brown stated the Goodkin Report was more real estate oriented vs the RMA proposed plan which would be consumer oriented …thus Chris Brown said they were “very, very different”..”It’s a whole , a completely different approach. We tried to understand the feel about the town what they do here and why they come here and why they don’t come here”…Comm. Vincent responded the Goodkin Report did make some of those same suggestions and it should be reviewed and used for comparison..

The Mayor asked for the VM or Comm.Sasser to comment..

VM Dodd – “I’m not that comfortable about expanding RMA’s role at this time and going ahead with a $62,000 marketing and branding program.”… He spoke of the Pompano Beach “pinching” of another city’s slogan (same branding contractor per RMA as other muni’s RMA has put forth for comparison) ..He spoke of Delray Beach in the news recently rethinking their restaurant quota and said he would like to hold off until the final reports from UM and the financial plan from RMA are received as well as the budget …

The Mayor jumped in before Comm. Sasser and said  “Yeah, um. and again and a marketing plan is important but I’m, I’m not sure that it’s the right time for out town right now. I do think that it’s something that could be done at the staff level. “..She went on ask how much the Chamber was funded for marketing last year to which the Town Manager reminded her it was for advertising and it was approx. $14-$15  thousand ….The Mayor stated she had seen a letter from the Chamber stating they were not asking for funding this year …(really?) …and that maybe that money could go towards a marketing research person and could be discussed during budget time (this was June 14th- budget time starts June 21st!) …She said she agreed with the Vice Mayor and the need for the reports…repeated it could be done in a staff level position and said that was where she stood…

TM Hoffmann- ” I’d just like to comment that there’s nobody on staff right now that has any marketing expertise whatsoever (laughing). Now RMA had recommended in the, their plan (item 2a June 21, 2011 backup) that we hire someone that has that ability and that capability. So I think we need to talk at budget workshop if that’s what you have in mind and I don’t know what other person, Sharon can speak to whether the person who’s you implementer is the same as the person who devises the marketing plan.”

Chris Brown- ” Well it, it, it all depends on whether the implementer, there is a little bit of a difference between the person that has the vision to, to, to, do the blueprint and the person who implements and so sometimes you get the person can do both but they’ll have to, they’ll have to do, they’ll have to spend the time to write the plan which will take you know 90 days or so and then and so not much marketing’s gonna go on through that time. But you, a good marketing director can also write a plan. I mean Sharon did it so, in West Palm so and she was the marketing director as well. “..He asked Sharon to speak about it..

Sharon McCormick- “It is something that you can of course can be done by one person and we had talked about um, if you go ahead and have a plan you know now while you’re deciding to hire a marketing director because someone has to implement the plan .It will be really important to have someone take the plan and do something with it um, I just know from experience um if you find someone that has written a redevelopment marketing plan um, it will be alot easier for them. Because writing a marketing plan for a retail store or you know you really want somebody from the industry of redevelopment to be writing a redevelopment marketing plan.”…She added it was easier each year in her 5 year stint with West Palm Beach…and added the need for guidance  most likely would be required as well …

The Mayor for the first of several times said which Commissioner they heard from and asked where they were at then…before getting a response from Comm. Sasser she jumped in again to talk of her preference for a staff position to be filled stating it could be part- time and again spoke of the budget process …

Comm. Sasser said he had a couple of questions for Sharon and Chris and asked if the marketing plan they were presenting was for “attracting customers to the business areas or are you talking about attracting businesses themselves?” …Sharon and Chris Brown both responded “both”… Comm Sasser responded that was great and that was what he thought they were proposing and “what I wanted to hear”… He went on to speak about “alot of money” being spent on “redevelopment and looking at different areas of the town and one of those things is if we’re not attracting the right businesses we’re gonna spend alot of money and we’re gonna fancy everything up and they’re gonna remain empty or what have you so I also think this is extremely, extremely important.”…His other question was on the need for the person hired needing to be in redevelopment marketing or what the would call “Business development as well”… He said he had conversations with the Town Manager who is “pretty adamant” that she thinks they “need to be specific via retail vs hotel or lodging”…wanting to know if it’s possible to find someone who can do both…

Chris Brown threw some levity into the discussion using a football analogy …first using Auburn University…then to Alabama with a laugh as he described a player who could kick, pass, throw and run…but those types of players don’t come along too often…same for marketing directors who may not have equal expertise between retail and hotel… Chris Brown added that the position would need to be full-time at a minimum…

Comm. Sasser asked about how we are going to pay for things and spoke of the referendum again speaking about attracting the right businesses and how they can help us “generating the right capital through those new businesses that help us pay for exactly what we’re doing?”

Chris Brown- “Well I remember that question. I think it was your question when we were here last. How you gonna pay for it and of course on e of the best ways is for the  town to have better real estate values because that’s really how you earn your money. This town’s business plan is about, it’s about assessed value of real estate.”…He spoke of Sharon’s example in Northwood Village and the rents tripling …”Then the property appraiser says ok the value of the property goes up and then you get greater tax revenues and then you start having a surplus and then you put that money away for later on for the garage in 5 years or whatever. You know whatever your priorities are. Yes, this is the way it goes and I mean just to give you an example in Delray when I first started there we had tax increments of $300,000 and today it’s $12 million. That’s and they have so much money they can’t spend it fast enough! But it’s all about real estate values.”…He too spoke of rents going from$8 sq. ft (as Sharon stated for West Palm) in Delray going up to $50-$75 sq. ft…changing from “gross leases to triple net leases”…He spoke about it being restaurant driven and spoke briefly about that being his baby …he invented the restaurant model that the VM spoke of was now being written negatively…stating he disagreed with those who are criticizing what he did…

Comm. Sasser- thanked the Mayor for the time allotted to him and thanked Chris Brown stating ” because the long term ROI on that is the obvious thing”..Chris Brown said “That’s your business plan, I mean really the marketing is part of your whole business plan”…Comm. Sasser finished up by speaking about the past requirement of hotels on El Mar undergrounding and that should be retained to offset costs and find the right business “partners”…

Chris Brown responded about the hotels and spoke of his firm working on incentives for hotels in Delray a few years back and the Canadian company for Hyatt Place which came to West Palm when Sharon was there …Now he and RMA have gotten into a whole new field and are bringing it elsewhere (Hyatt is also coming to Pompano Beach -via RMA ) …He went on ” We’re just beginning and let’s not lose it we’re gonna, we’re gaining momentum on hotels now and they’re more and more people beginning to redevelop hotels. It’s just beginning to happen. So I leave that on the table as saying let’s really jump on that because I think we have a chance on El Mar to really do something.”

Comm. Sasser- Thanked the Mayor and Chris Brown again and said “I appreciate you letting me have, ask all of those questions, but that’s really what I want to drive at and really the point I wanted to make which is, you know we need to leave, it’s such an important part of what we’re doing attracting not only customers and marketing plan but attracting the right businesses and they can actually help us get to where we want to go. So, it’s really very, very critical and vital and with that I yield.”

The Mayore again said they were being asked to give direction for a Town marketing plan by RMA with a budget amount ($62,000) …She again stated her preference and  asked Comm. Clottey if she could not make a decision right now…

Comm. Clottey said she had a question  and said “one of the goals of the marketing plan is …(The Mayor tried to cut her off) Can I ask a question? Is to determine you know how you’re gonna get where you want to go and that’s why you do your research to find out where we are now, but are we, have we really verbalized where we want to go exactly?”

This is where Sharon McCormick had her comeback to Comm. Clottey’s first comments…”That’s all part of the analysis is to talk about that through the process of creating the plan.”

Comm. Clottey- ” Cause we talk about businesses. Commissioner Sasser says we want to attract the right businesses, but we haven’t defined the right business yet.”

The Mayor once again tried to stop any further discussion… but Sharon McCormick responded about the different models of statistical data again speaking of the phone surveys and “leakage” of where money is being spent and  “capturing” that in other areas…

The Mayor once again repeated what they needed to do with direction being given …stating it should be addressed in the budget…in a line-item “or do we want to look at other opportunities to create a Town marketing plan through the Town staff itself?’ …She asked the TM if she was stating it properly and TM Hoffman replied “Um. yeah I think that’s half the question. I do think we have to make a decision not necessarily tonight but during the budget process are we going to develop a marketing plan if it’s done in-house or outside that is data driven based on research?”… Comm. Sasser said his answer was yes and they could decide on RMA later ..”So yes, I think it’s absolutely necessary”… The Mayor alright and for the last  time repeated the marketing plan would be discussed in the budget  either with RMA or other options… That will happen tonight at 5 pm in Jarvis hall …first item up for discussion…

more to come…

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