Strategically placed signs direct drivers to open businesses downtown
A billboard tied to the "Marshfield Digs Progress!" advertisements alerts potential customers to open business
The 2009 reconstruction of downtown Marshfield's South Central Avenue required crews to close Marshfield's main street to pedestrian and vehicle traffic for four months. With dozens of businesses lining the street, a complete road closure had the potential to significantly impact each business's bottom line.
Main Street Marshfield, a non-profit group of local business people, professionals, and city officials with the goal of revitalizing downtown Marshfield, created a committee to plan for construction impacts. The committee included representatives of the Marshfield Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry (the Chamber), the city of Marshfield, and any business owners or community members that wanted to help.
In October 2008, the group used In This Together principles to determine how they would lessen the impact of the construction to the adjacent businesses. Their efforts went into full force when the project was expedited by one year.
During construction, storefronts were inaccessible and businesses needed to spruce up their back entrances. Businesses that didn't have a back entrance worked with the construction staff to make sure customers could still get to their establishments. Main Street Marshfield encouraged downtown businesses to improve their alternate entrances, even offering loans and grants to help businesses prepare the entrances for customers' use.
The committee determined that parking would be a primary concern once construction was under way. To address this issue, the city added parking and extended time limits in parking lots. Additional parking was added to side streets. Signs were placed in the lots, indicating which businesses were closest. Maps of the interim parking plan were available at each business or online.
Keeping customers informed
The committee came up with several strategies to make sure customers knew that, even while the road was closed, it was possible to get to downtown stores. They developed a successful combination of print, television, and radio ads to use in and around the Marshfield area to remind customers to "Shop Downtown Marshfield."
Main Street Marshfield funded print, radio, and television advertising that featured a construction ant and the slogan, "Marshfield Digs Progress!" Their advertising also reminded shoppers that, "It's Right Here!" in downtown Marshfield.
Signing was an important element in communication efforts. The committee developed special signing to direct motorists and customers to the downtown businesses. Coming into Marshfield from all directions, there was a "Marshfield Digs Progress!" sign assuring customers that downtown businesses were open.
In addition to the general advertising, Main Street Marshfield and the Chamber included information about the construction progress in their monthly newsletters. The Chamber offered free advertising in their newsletter for businesses affected by construction, and the local newspaper featured an impacted business each week to give them more exposure. The city of Marshfield created a construction page on its Web site. Many individual businesses also used the Internet and their own Web sites to alert customers about the construction so they could come downtown prepared.
Bringing customers downtown with coupons and special events
To complement the ad campaign, Main Street Marshfield created a "Marshfield Digs Progress!"
coupon book that featured coupons for 34 downtown businesses. The coupon book was available at all downtown stores.
The coupon books also contained raffle tickets for gift certificates sponsored by the Chamber. Winners were chosen at each of three brat fries held downtown during the closure. The brat fries were big draws for customers and business owners alike.
A final drawing, with much larger gift certificates, was conducted during Marshfield's annual Hub City Days; this coincided with the opening of half the roadway.
Main Street Marshfield, the city of Marshfield and the Marshfield Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry invested a great deal of time during the road closure keeping businesses informed and optimistic about the construction. Their hard work and endurance paid off when crews opened half of South Central Avenue a week ahead of schedule. Even though the construction wasn't entirely complete, the impact on businesses was greatly reduced.
In the end, using the In This together principles before and during construction helped minimize impacts to the city's businesses. And, now, Marshfield has a brand new roadway that complements their revitalized downtown.