This Master Plan has identified a number of needs for marketing that would showcase Trenton’s assets and make the case for why people should live in, work in, and visit Trenton. These campaigns may be more cost effective if they are coordinated and launched as a single effort, rather than in an ad hoc manner.
Trenton has a variety of neighborhoods that are attractive to many different types of residents. Many stakeholders see Trenton as possessing the opportunity to be marketed as “cool”. Stakeholders sited the legacies of its industrial past, affordable housing options, uniqueness compared to the more ubiquitous suburbs, and lack of pretentiousness as possible attractions for millennials and artists seeking the urban lifestyle that Trenton can offer.
As part of an overall marketing campaign for downtown Trenton, the city’s unique urban character and image as a “cool” place to live should be promoted, highlighting Trenton’s shops, restaurants, and attractions. The demographic that is most likely to be attracted by such a campaign will be young people, artists, and those seeking an affordable place to live so they can develop a business. Focusing on workers employed in growing arts, food, and niche manufacturing industries in New York and Philadelphia should be considered. This action should emphasize:
Trenton is the urban center of Mercer County, and as such, has unique qualities not found elsewhere in the region, including density, walkability, transit-access, interesting architecture, and attractions, and
Trenton is relatively affordable compared to Greater Mercer County, as well as Philadelphia and New York metro areas. As such, there is an opportunity to live a high quality of life at a reasonable price for a segment of the region’s population. This affordability factor is strengthened by the strong - yet often underutilized – transportation hub, which makes it an easily accessed place to live along the Northeast corridor, and can offer an urban alternative for people who want the city lifestyle but would prefer not to live in New York or Philadelphia.
Information from the Regional Employer Partnership may also prove valuable in deciding what qualities about Trenton should be advertised.
Typically a Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) takes on the role of marketing and promotion for a city. Until a CVB can be established, the City must take on the role of promoting the city’s as a desirable place to live.
Live and Work in Downtown
Since new housing construction is a major pillar of the economic development strategy for Downtown Trenton (See Expand Downtown Market-Rate Housing Imitative), the City must place a special emphasis on the value of living and working downtown. 33,000 workers come from outside of the City every day to work in Trenton. As such, the Live Where You Work Program and corresponding incentives should be strongly advertised. However, the City must also promote it’s abundance of cultural offerings and the convince of living in a transit rich area.
The Trenton Downtown Association (TDA) is the non-profit organization that manages the special improvement district in downtown Trenton. The TDA promotes economic development and growth in the downtown through ombudsman services, financing information, public relations consulting, event planning, and marketing. Typically a convention and visitors bureau (CVB) takes on the role of downtown marketing and promotion for a city. However, Trenton currently does not have a CVB. Without a CVB in Trenton, the TDA is the City’s primary downtown marketing agency. The City should work with the TDA to ensure that the city’s unique urban character and image as a “cool” place to live is adequately and effectively promoted, and do the same once a CVB is in place.
By formulating and executing a tourism campaign, Trenton can attract more visitors, create a tourism economy, and improve economic development, particularly downtown. The city could particularly benefit from a heritage tourism campaign that capitalizes on the City’s important historical assets (see Visit Historic Trenton below). A designated entity should facilitate coordination among existing organizations (as well as residents and businesses) to better promote Trenton as a united front for increased visitation (leading to increased economic development, revitalization, and investment).
Visitation packages should be created to attract tourists and facilitate their visit. Packages should combine sites, restaurants, and hotels, and encourage visitors to downtown event venues to patronize Trenton businesses. Efforts that provide discounts or coupons may also increase tourism. With respect to historical assets, the City should consider targeting school children, suburban communities which lack the kind of history that Trenton has. In developing its tourism campaign, the City may wish to consider partnering with neighboring jurisdictions and combining their effort into a larger heritage tourism drive. Such an effort could give more credibility to their efforts, especially early on.
Arts & Culture
To make Trenton a premier destination for historical tourism and those seeking unique arts and culture amenities, the City should help conceptualize and execute a collaborative marketing campaign for the arts. Typically an arts council takes on the role of marketing arts and culture for a city. However, Trenton currently does not have an arts council (see Arts Council Action). In the interim, the Trenton Downtown Association (TDA) could lead the effort. The City should work with the TDA to ensure that the city’s arts and culture assets are adequately and effectively promoted, and do the same once an Arts Council is in place.
This marketing campaign should involve several components. The campaign, under the leadership of the arts council or other entity, should jointly advertise programming, events, and venues to create maximum synergy among organizations. Furthermore, the campaign should involve the creation of an integrated, official web-based arts calendar that contains all arts and culture-related events in Trenton. This will help organizations gain exposure while encouraging visitors to experience multiple events and venues. The marketing effort should also promote to potential event organizers the underutilized state-owned facilities downtown that could be used for arts-related uses. In particular, the City should emphasize downtown as the center of arts and culture in the City to better support the Downtown economic development initiatives. This area should be promoted as part of the campaign to attract artists as well as visitors seeking a concentration of creative activity.
Visit Historic Trenton
In addition to arts and culture, the City must continue to promote the City’s historic assets and identify efforts to “buddle” the individual assets into packages. For example, the City should also advocate for the State Division of Parks and Forestry to bundle Battle Monument and Washington Crossing State Park as a paired attraction. Washington Crossing draws many more historic-heritage visitors from around the country than Trenton. Pairing the two could increase visits to Trenton.
Coordination across Initiatives
In addition to these above efforts, the City must support many of the initiatives identified in this report through marketing. They include:
Support and Expand Downtown Retail
Expand and Support Neighborhood Retail
Support Growth of Neighborhood-Based Businesses and Immigrant Entrepreneurs
Encourage Multi-purpose Use of the Sun National Bank Center and Arm & Hammer Park for Events and Activities
Create a Startup and Makers’ Culture
As noted in Dedicated Funding Source for Promoting Tourism, the City should consider specifically dedicating the hotel tax revenue to tourism and/or creating a special improvement district tax on businesses likely to benefit from tourism. By linking the funding and those who benefit from it, Trenton can generate a positive cycle of increased tourism leading to increased funding to attract more tourism.
Case Study: Downtown Memphis
An area once known for its warehouses and industrial facilities, Downtown Memphis's Front Street has become the focus of residential and commercial developers. Those investors needed to change the perception of the area to reflect its new growth and opportunity. They worked with the owners of apartment buildings, retail stores, restaurants, and service providers to create a unified campaign that promotes the amenities of the neighborhood and encourages potential residents to “Live Up Front”. Through guerilla street-marketing tactics and public relations, the profile of this up-and-coming street was significantly elevated.
South Front Street has been revitalized into Downtown’s newest hub for idyllic urban life. Nestled among a variety of cultural hot spots, cozy cafes, and trend-setting shops, residences along South Front exude a modest industrial elegance sought after by artists and young professionals. These distinctive luxury lofts and flats channel the vibrant, eclectic vibe that makes an urban lifestyle unique. This extraordinary location is close to all the vibrant attractions of downtown Memphis. FedExForum, the Orpheum Theater, the National Civil Rights Museum, and Beale Street are all just steps away.
Case Study: Visit Philadelphia
Visit Philadelphia was founded in 1996 as Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (GPTMC) by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the City of Philadelphia and The Pew Charitable Trusts. Visit Philadelphia builds Philadelphia’s brand and image and gives Philadelphia a voice through Visit Philadelphia's campaigns, media relations, advertising, websites and social media.
Several tourism campaigns exist in other parts of the United States as well, providing good examples and models for Trenton, including Billings, MT; San Diego, CA; and Napa Valley, CA.