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What’s in a name? Plenty for biz owners

What’s in a name?

If you manage a business, your community’s name could be a marketing opportunity for your company. Or, if you happen to be a community leader who is interested in attracting the outside world to your front door, the appellation of your place may be just the thing that could spark a tourism, economic development or community awareness campaign.

Several ways to exploit your community’s name immediately come to mind. First, there are the ubiquitous Internet opportunities. E-newsletters, e-zines and catchy Web sites are obvious possibilities. If you live in Garden Grove, for example, just imagine all the ways that you could capitalize on that name. A second way to take advantage of the name would be to recruit companies that are somehow related to the name.

Continuing with the gardening example, a community could market itself as a location for companies that supply gardening products. Third, communities can create venues and events that relate to their names. Where else would one travel to each year for the premier gardening event but a place that had a garden in its name. I know that it sounds kind of cheesy, and that if it is not marketed properly it won’t work, but let’s get creative. Fourth, your name might be just the thing for a mailing address. You local postmaster might not appreciate the extra work, but something mailed to or from a city with a name related to a product or service might not hurt your marketing plan.

Cases in point

Enough of the philosophy and big-picture strategizing. Shall we jump right into some examples in Mississippi?

What’s the latest food and drink trend? Hint: It’s big and bold. If you answered coffee, here’s a tip of my espresso to you. It just so happens that there are not one, but two towns in Mississippi with coffee in their names. Wouldn’t it be natural for some entrepreneur who really wants to get off the beaten track, establish an Internet coffee business, roast some beans and draw a few extra visitors to a small town to find his or her place in Hot Coffee or Coffeeville? If you want to see a couple of really interesting coffee Web sites, check out www.virtualcoffee.com and www.coffeeuniverse.com.

Although gun and knife shows seem to be controversial in some areas, most have something in common in that they draw — pun intended — a lot of customers or visitors. What better place for such a show than Guntown? And of course, what better place for a firearms manufacturer, magazine or distributor to be located?

The forestry, nursery, landscaping and flower markets might be natural targets for the many communities in Mississippi that have such subjects in their names. The list would include, but not be limited to, Woodville, Tupelo, Flora, Greenville, Greenwood, Magnolia, Lumberton, Hickory, Hickory Flat, Laurel, Mount Olive, Moss Point, Oakland, Olive Branch, Petal, Rosedale, Sunflower, Walnut, Walnut Grove and Woodland. Imagine the possibilities.

How about McCool for the world of air-conditioning? And think of the ways that a business could make use of the name of Alligator. The religious among us would find something emanating from Eden to be worthy of further inquiry. And I know that there is some entrepreneur who could come up with a creative venture in Chunky. Bird lovers might flock to Falcon, Turkey Creek or Duck Hill.

Riding around

So what’s in a name? Consider the Town of Sturgis, Mississippi, a small town of 206 residents in Oktibbeha County. A town with the same name in South Dakota became nationally known after a motorcycle rally that began in 1938 with an event called the Black Hills Classic. It is expected that in 2007 more than a half-million people will attend the event.

In 2002 the City of Sturgis, S.D., which has a population of just over 6,000, formed an official Rally Department to handle the event. Motorcyclists from around the country began having rallies in towns named Sturgis. Mississippi’s Sturgis embraced the event, which started there in 1997, and has grown to over 35,000 in attendance. Although Sturgis, Miss., does not have a rally department, it does have an official vendor coordinator and a city clerk.

So where would be the best place to start a new business? Surely, the community of Enterprise would want you there.

Finally, I know that I’m going to get myself into trouble with somebody in South Mississippi, but here goes: Will your town be a Star or Soso?

About Phil Hardwick

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