Dream: Start small with a specific cause to market the city

Dream: Start small with a specific cause to market the city

If there's a segment of the population that finds what you're saying interesting, you can start an effective grassroots, social media campaign for any sort of cause. Experience Columbus looks at the big picture, and that makes sense. It's mass-marketing. But it's the enthusiasts' job-people like me, or Cheryl Harrison from Drink Up Columbus, or Crave-to talk more in-depth about the small, specific things in Columbus and capitalize on them. If Experience Columbus decided to advertise a brewery trail, I would say, "OK, how can we help?" The majority couldn't care less about Columbus beers, but every single one of my followers (@centralohiocraftbeer on Instagram) does. Getting those two groups together creates a real interest.

I've had conversations with people who've never been here: "I've been there, but only through the airport." Well, we've gotta do something about that! We've got thousands of people at Ohio State, for example, and if we want those smart, good people to stay in Columbus, we have to give them a reason to. Getting into their world now pays dividends 10 years from now from when they're getting married and having kids. The marketing needs to be focused on what we have here that's cool-people don't want to go to boring places. Once we determine what we love about the city, we can start telling the story of Columbus.

It's going to take time. It's going to take several movements, like Stone2Cbus, that become more than just a social media presence. We have to give people a reason to come here, but once they're here, they'll make a return trip. And the more organic and sincere it is, the better. The slogan, or whatever it is that makes it sound cool, still has to have the genuine article in it. Or else you'll never see these people again, ever. The bottom line to this thing is, get the heart, and the mind will follow. -As told to Tristan Eden