Blog: Rebecca Lopez Kriss

Rebecca Lopez Kriss speaks her mind. A self-described "concerned citizen and community advocate at all levels," she is also a co-founder of the YP Underground, a local networking group for young professionals. Rebecca will be weighing in on redevelopment, downtown parking and how young people need to become more involved in building the community they want.

Rebecca Lopez Kriss - Post 4: My Three Favorite Marketing Ideas for Washtenaw County That No One Lis

Hey! Ken Fischer, are you listening?  I grew up on the east side of Metro Detroit without a love for football, and therefore pretty much oblivious to Ann Arbor. I can name every major road that runs north/south from Gratiot to Telegraph, but never had a reason to make the trek on I-94 all the way out to Washtenaw County.

I am sure my experience is in many ways a-typical. I suspect that there are many people in Metro Detroit who came to school at the University of Michigan, make a life in the suburbs of Detroit, and suddenly Ann Arbor is just an idyllic horizon in their distant collegiate experience. These are the same people who exclaim, "Oh, I just love Ann Arbor," when I tell them where I am living these days, but they just can’t remember the last time they came out here. 

In an era of people rediscovering their backyard and not spending on lavish vacations outside of our beautiful state, the marketers of our region may find themselves marketing a little closer to home. 

Get Oakland County to Fall in Love All Over Again

How many of you have driven up Woodward recently? It’s like a direct route to the other town-and-gown crowd of Southeast Michigan. 

You know, out there they have amazing opportunities to remind people how great Ann Arbor is.  They are called billboards, and I have been told they are very effective. I won’t spell out the ad campaign, but it goes something like, "Rediscover Ann Arbor..." 

Sell Train Packages from Birmingham and Royal Oak for Dinner and a Show

Does anyone remember when the Tigers were in the World Series in 2006? Anyone? Here is what I remember: Olympia Development, the Detroit Tigers, Amtrak, and the Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) teamed up and offered train and ticket packages for $29. Trains left from Pontiac, Birmingham, and Royal Oak, and passengers were then shuttled up to Comerica Park from the Downtown Detroit Amtrak station. That is hot.

And it can happen in Ann Arbor. Imagine all those cultured Birminghamers getting on a train to come to Yo Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble on a Saturday night, or the ladies coming out to see the Jerusalem Symphony on a Sunday afternoon. With the existing Amtrak schedule, both parties can come out to the show with plenty of time to spare, have dinner, do a little shopping, and then hop right back onto the train to head home. All we need is a shuttle that runs between the Amtrak Station, Kerry Town, Downtown, and then to campus. (Hmmm, maybe reroute the Link for special events?) And viola! One super cosmopolitan commuter rail way experience coming up. 

Can anyone see family packages to Summer Fest and Top of the Park?  The possibilities are endless; Chris Bidlack would have a field day with the posters. 

Design Better Maps and Guides

And the crowning piece... better downtown guides. This is going to hurt when I write this, but guys... Grand Rapids has better, cooler, hipper, city guides and maps than Ann Arbor. I don’t know who is doing them, but they look hot, and they make me want to come back to see what I missed. 

Another great example is Portland (which is to be expected). Every district of Portland has its own guide, yet all are co-branded and consistent, and every business from hotels, restaurants, to shops, in that district has them. The maps are inclusive of all features of an area, but look to me to be sponsored by the participating businesses that are highlighted.  Every Portland guide is a fabulous piece that includes walking tour instructions, where to get lunch or dinner, and where to buy a great purse.

Sure, I admit these ideas are easier said than done, but at least now they are out there just ripe for the picking. Ken Fischer are you listening?