A branding initiative launched by the Arkansas Regional Coalition of the Ouachitas (ARCO) in August of 2014, is continuing to develop. A meeting was held by ARCO members and invited guests of the community at RMCC’s Ouachita Center on Monday as ARCO solicited the guidance of Martin Thoma of Thoma Thoma, a strategic marketing firm based in Little Rock that specializes in community driven branding.
The Arkansas Coalition of the Ouachitas announced their new branding initiative called “One More Day” with the hope of extending tourists’ stay while in the region. “The purpose of the branding initiative is to develop a brand – a common theme and graphic that can be used to market the many things to see and do in the ARCO region (Montgomery, Polk, and Scott Counties),” states Gar Eisele, ARCO Chair. “We want to encourage visitors to stay one more day in the region.”
This initiative is sponsored by the Partners for a Vibrant Sustainable Future, a collaboration between the Arkansas Coalition of the Ouachitas, Rich Mountain Community College, and the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service.
“Thousands of people visit the ARCO region each year, and they often are not aware of the many things to see and do in each of the three ARCO counties,” states Carla Vaught, ARCO Board Member and Polk County Extension Agent. “Based on the 2013 Arkansas Tourism Annual Report, if we can entice them to stay one more day in the region, this would increase travel and tourism by 31% – an increase in travel and tourism expenditures in the region by $16.5 million. This would support our travel and tourism businesses, increase jobs, and increase local government tax revenues.”
According to Thoma, “There is perhaps nothing stronger than a community that is unified, energized, and empowered.” Thoma facilitated the meeting using helpful research from online surveys that were completed from participants in the region last Fall and asked participants, “Cast your vision 3-5 years. For you to be absolutely delighted with the progress of the ARCO region, what has to have happened?” Thoma will use the feedback from Monday’s meeting to assist ARCO in crafting a marketing platform that will generate a brand desire powerful enough to drive tourism, increase tax revenue and transform ARCO from a good region into a great one.
As he explained during the meeting, “Why does branding work? It’s mental real estate. Community branding is a ‘promise.’”
Thoma’s pledge is to utilize their brand marketing expertise to uncover what makes a city, town, or destination special.
Eisele explained that Thoma has a history of success. “Creating a brand for the region – a logo and slogan that expresses who we are and what we have to offer, is the first step in this process. If we are successful in encouraging our visitors to stay ‘one more day,’ we will all benefit,” Eisele concluded.