Downtown averaged a 96 percent occupancy rate in 2014 and several new retailers have since opened. The area will be promoted as a weekend tourist destination for Coloradans outside the city.

The Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance has taken on a new partner to promote the region.

The RBA has hired Development Counsellors International, a national marketing and public relations agency that specializes in place marketing for tourism and economic development. DCI has offices on both the East and West coasts, in Toronto and Denver.

The company will market the strengths of the region, said Nathan Landry, communications manager for the alliance, who added there are five key messages DCI will emphasize.

“One is [promoting] our highly educated and hard-working talent,” Landry said. “That ties in with the Olympic City USA idea of a culture of champions and folks who work to be the best.”

The partnership with DCI is meant to build on the Olympic City USA branding, Landry said, not compete with it.

- Advertisement -

“One reason we’re not 100 percent using that brand for everything is because we’re a regional business alliance and we work to attract folks to the Pikes Peak region, not just Colorado Springs,” Landry said.

Providing skilled workers for hire as companies look for new cities in which to expand or lay roots is one of the RBA’s highest priorities, he said.

Because of that, another key message falls under the banner of “Pioneering Powerhouse,” Landry said.

“That’s playing on innovation in Colorado Springs, especially in the cybersecurity sector, but also aerospace, defense and [information technology],” he said.

The third theme is “Best of Both Worlds,” which highlights the region’s big-city benefits without losing its small-town feel.

“We are less than an hour from south Denver and an hour and a half from DIA. But we don’t have that congestion,” Landry said, adding the best of both worlds ties into the fourth message of accessibility, including the region’s own airport.

The fifth key message is promoting the “unbeatable views and quality of life,” Landry said.

“The keys we looked at were things we thought other places couldn’t brag about,” he said. “Colorado Springs has the last one in spades. No one else has Pikes Peak and those sorts of things.”

‘THIS FEELS LIKE US’

Susan Brake, lead digital marketing strategist with DCI, said the region can differentiate itself through those five key areas.

“It was a voice that felt very Colorado Springs,” she said. “People should look at the key messages and say, ‘This feels like us.’”

Those messages were influenced by a number of in-state and out-of-state focus groups and surveys, Brake said.

“Our recommendations are based on what people in the region are saying about its strengths and weaknesses,” she said.

What DCI found was a disconnect, Brake said.

Many people living in the Pikes Peak region thought outsiders had negative impressions of the area, which was often opposite the truth.

“Some were harder on themselves than the out-of-state corporate executive is,” she said. “Internally, people don’t realize how positive the perception is outside the state. And we have the research to back up the positivity, so we can say, ‘Stop being negative. Here’s why.’”

A successful campaign would mean targeted inquiries from “the right companies,” Brake said. “The cyber industry is pretty phenomenal [in the region] and we would like to see more inquiries about cyber.”

“This is the biggest branding project the RBA has ever engaged in.” 

— Nathan Landry

DCI conducted a similar campaign in Sioux Falls, S.D.

“In 2009 we did the same thing — research interviews about how they were marketing themselves and came up with a campaign for them a as serious player in investment,” she said. “The clients came back and mentioned their inbound rates increased significantly and the type of leads they were getting were of a higher caliber than previous projects. Now Sioux Falls has gone off. It’s cool to see in the news they’re one of the best economies in the U.S.”

In Colorado Springs, the campaign will cover four separate phases, Landry said.

The first was a discovery phase that included the focus groups and surveys.

“We also talked with site selection consultants and nationwide talent so people would want to come in as part of the workforce,” he said.

The second phase included using the acquired information to create selling propositions for the area.

As the campaign moves into the third phase, the RBA will design and build “a world-class website,” Landry said. “We’re working on that right now and hope, by the end of the year, we have a new website for the RBA.”

The fourth phase will include presenting a marketing blueprint for the Business Alliance.

“We don’t want this to be a one-off thing,” Landry said. “This is the biggest branding project the RBA has ever engaged in. We want it to have long-reaching effects.”