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Second firm signs on for Tricentennial

NATCHEZ — The Natchez Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (CVB) has hired a second company to help develop and promote a new tourism brand for the city on the eve of its tricentennial.

The CVB announced this week the signing of a $90,000 contract with The Goss Agency, a “cultural tourism branding firm.”

The group’s prior work includes the launch of the first Disney Resorts outside Orlando and clients such as the Island of St. Lucia, Historic Biltmore Village, The Islands of Palau, South Seas Plantation, The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Cherokee Nation, The Seminole Tribe of Florida and the Native American Tribe of Wisconsin.

“(The year) 2016 is raising the bar for us, and we want to make sure — as we raise that bar — we move forward at a solid and steady clip,” CVB Executive Director Kevin Kirby said. “We wanted to invest in the type of talent that will get us where we need to go.”

“(The Goss Agency) had the unique quality to distill down to very salient points key benefits of a community or product being offered and accompany that with really well thought art and graphics.”

As part of their engagement with the CVB, The Goss Group will — as part of a 14-step program — conduct interviews, do quantitative analysis of the city’s offerings, host focus groups and lead brand narrative development, Kirby said.

“You really distill from the community, the exposure, the market comparison, where you stand in the marketplace and what the community brings to the table, what potential visitors or past visitor wants or desired when they came and what that experience was for them,” he said.

“It all comes together and creates a tactical plan as we move into 2016.

Jeffrey Goss, president and creative director for The Goss Group, said what helps his company stand apart is that it doesn’t just conduct studies for studies sake.

“The biggest distinction is we don’t do a bunch of research, spend a bunch of money to get this nice to know information to put in a drawer that isn’t used,” he said. “We are executers — We get that in formation and we get it out to the audience in a compelling way that gets results and drives traffic.

“There are a lot of independent market consultants that do research and branding, but in reality branding is not branding until it is executed.”

Kirby said the city has had similar professional engagements before, but not to the extent The Goss Agency can offer.

“I have looked at research that has been done in the past, and there have been elements of this type of information, but not this comprehensive,” he said.

“Where we really wanted to be with this firm is we wanted to do the full spectrum from soup to nuts in making sure we didn’t leave anything idle, we didn’t waste any funds.”

Kirby said he believes the advertising work The Goss Agency will do will complement well the work Lou Hammond and Associates — the public relations firm the CVB recently hired — is doing.

Goss said the two agencies work in different ways.

“Public relations, what they do, is working with the media to cater to the visitor,” he said. “We use paid advertising and other mediums and strategies.”

As part of the company’s research, representatives of The Goss Agency — which is based in Ashville, N.C. — toured the area last week and this week.

“We are very, very impressed with Natchez, with the culture, history and also the rich experiences you can have,” Goss said. “It is more exciting than anything I have worked on, that has the greatest potential. The people we met and the people driving this marketing are very impressive. They have a great passion for Natchez’s success.”

Goss said he was particularly impressed with the area’s “generosity and graciousness,” and that may play a key role in Natchez the brand development of the future.

Funding to hire the agency came from the CVB’s promotion budget, Kirby said.