Old Town Lafayette is a small, tight-knit community of artists, entrepreneurs, advocates, and passionately loyal residents all mixing together in one downtown district. After years of declining sales and the lasting impact of a global pandemic, it was time to take a more organized approach to unify the businesses and get them the marketing support they needed. The challenge, however, was marketing a destination that doesn’t want to feel like it’s being marketed. This campaign needed to ring true to the organic, artisan vibe of the community and steer clear of any signs of perfection. It couldn’t feel too planned or purposeful, and most importantly, the people of Lafayette needed to stay at the heart of the project.
Get back to the human spirit of Old Town Lafayette.
To get to the core of the community, we conducted interviews and surveys with over 60 local businesses spanning retail, experiential, professional services, and hospitality to ensure everyone in the district who wanted to be heard had an opportunity to voice their ideas, opinions, and concerns. What we found was that business owners felt disconnected from one another, and there were several “dead zones” that impeded visitors from further exploration. Our agency always begins with an overarching insight to guide our strategy. In this case, it was simple: interconnectivity.
Despite its stronghold as a unique downtown community, Old Town Lafayette never had an online presence that was dedicated to the businesses, events, or experiences possible there. To help boost awareness and begin telling the story of its uncommon streets, COHN launched two social channels from scratch in June 2021 and grew followers (REAL, authentic followers) from zero to more than 1,000 in a few short weeks. These channels included a variety of franchised content initiatives, such as “shoppable shows” that allowed business owners to share their passion and inspiration behind their businesses, paired experiences between different merchants, and a bird’s-eye view of the district to help visualize how all the businesses are interconnected.
Additionally, we recommended building out an ADA-compliant website that could serve as a central hub of information for all Old Town Lafayette happenings, such as a business directory, an events calendar, a trails map, a walking tour, and a historical overview of the city. Together, these online entities brought the vision of community under one brand.
Old Town Lafayette is a multifaceted destination, so we wanted to get people out and exploring. Using merchant feedback, brand attributes, and some global trends, including “people miss spontaneous activities” and “nostalgic comforts are expected to rise,” we worked to create a uniquely Lafayette experiential campaign.
Old Town Lafayette is a place to slow down and just embrace whatever you happen to stumble upon, from alley art to potlucks to spontaneous live music. You don’t need a plan. You don’t even need to know where you’re going. Just hop, skip and jump from spot to spot.
An authentic approach that better reflects the community.
In all, COHN installed 10 hopscotch sidewalk clings around Old Town Lafayette that were designed by various local artists. Each cling had a QR code on it, and for each QR code scanned, a $1 donation was made toward a local student pursuing a career in the arts. The community raised $1,640 from September 15 to October 15, 2021. COHN secured earned media placements in The Denver Post, Colorado Hometown Weekly, Daily Camera, and Macaroni KID. Our landing page had over 3,000 visitors in the four-week period.
In addition, business owners agree that the new Old Town Lafayette website better reflects the community, and its social media channels are thriving.