The founder of Create West Virginia, Jeff James, visited Buckhannon last week to talk with community members about how to market Buckhannon.
Create West Virginia served as a model in the founding of Create Buckhannon, an organization of community members who get together to brainstorm ideas for making Buckhannon a better place.
To get a clear vision of what the participating community members think embodies Buckhannon and what they want Buckhannon to be known for, James asked them to identify the five most powerful assets and national-level qualities that define the city.
"The most important thing to take away is the confidence to claim and embrace the unique quality of the community in order to communicate it to other people that they want to attract here," James said Friday.
The participating community members said they would like to attract more young families, professionals, entrepreneurs, tourists and retirees.
"All these groups that you're trying to attract, they need to know what is uniquely great about Buckhannon," James said. "That's very difficult because it's easy to say that we have a nice Main Street, and we have a school here. We have a lot of different things, but a lot of towns can say that.
"We're searching for the one unique thing that other communities can't really say in order to differentiate the community. That's the heart of good marketing, to let people know how you're different."
The five assets were identified as quality of education through West Virginia Wesleyan College, the historic nature of town and Main Street, access to world-class outdoor adventure, having world-class artists like Ron Hinkle with Ron Hinkle Glass and having a cooperative community spirit.
"That was the one that, I think, we decided, hardly any other community can really say right now," James said. "That is your community-cooperative spirit. That is reflected by Create Buckhannon, all the volunteers, the energy and the atmosphere that has come out of that. That's really, really unique from almost any other town, just the level of cooperation and creative energy that is happening here."
More than a dozen community members attended throughout the day.
"Marketing Buckhannon is important to us because it's a collaboration, a partnership, between the college and the town," WVWC Vice President for Enrollment Management Bernie Valento said.
He came to the community discussion and planning session with a colleague from the college.
"We heard about Jeff James, that he was a good speaker with marketing, and we wanted to take a part of this session and also to see how Create Buckhannon and Create West Virginia, all of that, links together," WVWC Director of Public Relations Rochelle Long said.
Together with Create Buckhannon, the community members attempted to create a marketing concept for Buckhannon.
"I think we've made a lot of progress on that today, and now we're coming up with creative ways to share it with the world, via social media, events, other ways to get the word out," James said.
James said that if Buckhannon markets a community of creators and entrepreneurs, it will attract more creators and entrepreneurs to the city, helping to grow upon and fulfill that sense of community.
"You have to build the brand identity to draw people that will make the brand identity stronger," James said.