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City lends a marketing hand to commerce Allison K. Sampité-montecalvo | Sat, Nov 24 2012 12:00 PM

In an effort to increase sales tax revenue, the city of Chula Vista has launched a new marketing campaign to encourage its residents to shop locally.

Shop Chula Vista Now is a new economic development program designed to push residents to support its small businesses, which works in cooperation with local businesses to promote shopping in Chula Vista.

Developed by city staff and an outside marketing expert, the city has worked since early this year to brand the city in time for the holidays.

Dubbed an “urban orchard,” the city would function as a giant marketplace, or one stop shop for the entire community.

The moniker incorporates the newer retail options while also echoing back to Chula Vista’s lemon orchard roots.
Shop Chula Vista Now also coincides with Small Business Saturday on Nov. 24, an event recognized nationally among local businesses, which falls between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, dedicated to supporting small businesses nationwide.

It was the responsibility of Chula Vista marketing and communications manager Anne Steinberger and economic development director Michael Meacham to come up with the concept.

“…As we got closer to the holidays we realized that it’s the time to launch something like this … we felt like we needed a consumer marketing approach,” Steinberger said.

MJE Marketing Services consultant Marlee Ehrenfeld was contracted by the city to create the right message for Chula Vista.

Currently, the city is below average in regional per capita sales tax revenues, according to city data.

However, Ehrenfeld developed a strategic fiscal recovery and progress plan to help get the city back on track.

“It’s about moving people to buy, creating excitement, demand and awareness, and reminding residents that great shopping, dining and service experiences can be found in Chula Vista,” Ehrenfeld said during a Nov. 6 presentation to the City Council.

Ehrenfeld implemented the “think like a mall” strategy, which treats the city as a giant shopping mall, drawing on consistent messaging, attractive materials, holiday and seasonal promotions and the ability to create private-public partnerships. It also follows social shopping trends and creates loyalty programs.

“A lot of cities … are promoting a shop local concept but it gives Chula Vista its own,” Steinberger said. “We’re really maximizing and turning this into as broad a campaign as possible.”

Third Avenue Village Association executive director Luanne Hulsizer said the board, which endorsed the program, would follow the city’s efforts.

“We will be contacting all the businesses on Third Avenue to explain the concept to them,” Hulsizer said. “I think it’s perfect, being able to launch it now during the holiday season will help to bring a message to the community of the importance of shopping local and supporting small businesses.”

Hulsizer added that anytime the city can increase its sales tax revenue it’s the best thing for the Chula Vista community and added that it’s a great opportunity for business to refer other business.

“It’s a great opportunity for Third Avenue Village,” Hulsizer said.

The campaign kicks off at the city’s holiday in the village event on Dec. 1, where more than 100,000 incentive cards will be distributed.

The city began deliveries of window clings and incentive cards this week while the website went live Tuesday.

Chula Vista mall Sears store manager Griselda Ochoa said she is excited about getting residents back into the mall.

“We’ll be giving an extra 5 percent off, they have to be a “shop your way” member,” Ochoa said. “What the program does ... every time you shop with us at Sears you accumulate points and the points gets converted into dollars, which can be used toward a purchase.”

Ochoa said challenges to getting residents to buy local is having something new to offer, but the program gives businesses an opportunity to promote themselves and creates incentives for residents to buy local.

“We get that customer who lives in Chula Vista to shop our store and we want to reward them by giving an extra discount not only in our store but in the mall,” she said. “We’re also planning on having local events for shop now members.”

The Shop Chula Vista Now website identifies participating business locations throughout the city such as restaurants, hotels, beauty salons, gas stations as well as their discounts.

For the launch, the city is providing free window clings for all participating locations, as well as promoting holiday giveaways, local advertising, social marketing and media outreach.

Next steps including business outreach, cooperative marketing and advertising, community ads, banners and signage, e-blasts and online and social media.

The city is also promoting Shop Chula Vista Now via Twitter @thinkchulavista.

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