Aspen wants your marketing ideas | AspenTimes.com

Aspen wants your marketing ideas

ASPEN – Flooded with monetary requests by individuals who have pitched their marketing ideas to promote Aspen in the down economy, the city has taken a formal approach to vet out the best concepts worthy of its $200,000 that was set aside as an economic stimulus.

The city and the Aspen Chamber Resort Association (ACRA) are taking residents’ ideas for stimulating Aspen’s economy through special events and “outside-the-box” approaches.

Ideas will be gathered through Nov. 6 and will then go to a committee of city, ACRA and Commercial Core and Lodging Commission members for review. The best ideas will be presented to the City Council for possible implementation and funding.

“A lot of people have some good ideas out there about how to attract visitors to Aspen, fill empty storefronts or raise Aspen’s profile as a destination,” said City Manager Steve Barwick. “We’re hoping to create a way for those ideas to be harvested and vetted, with the best ones implemented.”

Sally Spaulding, the city’s community relations officer, said several people have come before the council asking for money. So instead of considering those requests in a piecemeal fashion, the council would like the field of ideas narrowed down.

Julia Theisen, ACRA vice president of sales and marketing, said the committee planned to meet Tuesday to discuss the goals of the program and how to measure success from the various ideas presented. She noted that it’s important that any ideas funded or implemented are in line with ACRA’s overall strategic marketing plan for 2010.

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Not all ideas require funding from the council, which budgeted $200,000 toward marketing efforts beyond what ACRA has in store for 2010.

One resident has suggested that the city approach commercial landlords who have empty storefronts and convince them to allow some merchants from the farmers’ market to set up shop either rent-free or at minimal expense.

“The idea is to create vitality instead of seeing empty storefronts,” Spaulding said.

The other concept that has been floated by the council was introduced by Casey McConnell, CEO of Qittle, a mobile marketing company, as well as Aspen resident Andrew Kole, an investor in the local firm.

They have asked the council for $100,000 to help market their “Live the Dream” contest, in which an individual will be selected to live in Aspen for a year with all expenses paid. In return, that person will work for Qittle hosting a weekly radio/TV show that will air locally and also will be responsible for his or her own blog, where they will share their experience in Aspen and Snowmass with the world.

The contest is modeled after a similar contest held in Queensland, Australia, which garnered worldwide attention.

“We think it’s a great idea,” McConnell said. “As a community, we have to stand out. It’s a rough environment.”

The Aspen winner would be hooked up with an apartment, a ski pass, health club membership, credit card allowance, bar tab and many other offerings that help make living the dream possible. McConnell and his Qittle associates are hoping to partner with local businesses in providing those perks.

While no commitments are firm, the town of Snowmass Village, ACRA, the Aspen Skiing Co. and other local businesses have been in discussions with McConnell, and they’ve expressed interest in partnering in some form, he said.

“We need everyone pooling their resources together to make it a collaborative effort,” he said. “It’s a big idea.”

However the council decides to allocate its economic stimulus money, McConnell said he hopes a decision is made soon because it’s getting late to market for 2010.

Entry for “Live the Dream” will go live on Jan. 1. The contest will be promoted via social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. People also will be able to gain more information about the contest by texting “LIVEIT” to 32075, or visiting http://www.qittle.com.

Anyone over 18 years old can register to enter the contest. There will be weekly random prize giveaways to anyone who registers. The second part of the contest will begin June 1, when 100 random names will be selected from the entries to compete in a personal viral marketing campaign.

Participants will be judged on their own campaigns, and five finalists will be selected to come to Aspen and Snowmass for an interview. The overall winner will be announced on July 4, and that individual will move to the area within 90 days.

McConnell said time is of the essence for the council to choose a recipient of its economic stimulus money because marketing plans for 2010 are already under way for many organizations.

“They’ve got to pull the trigger,” he said.

Ideas can be submitted online at http://www.aspenpitkin.com or mailed to Aspen City Hall, Community Relations Department, 130 S. Galena, Aspen, CO 81611.

csack@aspentimes.com