The ChallengesEvery Thursday night for over 30 years, the San Luis Obispo Downtown Association has hosted Downtown SLO Farmers’ Market – a thriving benchmark event by which farmers’ markets across the nation are measured. But the results of a research survey conducted showed that attendance by locals had flagged for reasons including perceived difficulty of access, lack of produce diversity and lack of representation from micro farmers within 60 miles of San Luis Obispo. Additionally, upcoming contract negotiations with the SLO County Farmers’ Market Association were anticipated to be challenging.
The SolutionsThe SLO Downtown Association engaged Parker Sanpei to redefine its internal and external communications and develop a crisis management plan. After conducting research through multiple interviews with community and political stakeholders, in addition to meetings with the SLO Downtown Association staff and board of directors, Parker Sanpei developed a communications platform crystallizing the market’s vision, mission and positioning statements, as well as its history and core values. The legendary brand was given a refresh with a new logo and collateral material developed by a local creative firm. A year-long integrated public relations strategy was implemented for community re-engagement that included direct-to-consumer outreach, launch of new attractions at the Market, along with media and public official endorsements. Next, a crisis mitigation plan was created to manage the negotiations with the farmers of the SLO County Farmers Market Association; the groundwork was laid for conscientious growth and positive public perception.
With a new Vision & Business Plan for the market, the Downtown Association secured new contract terms with the SLO County Farmers’ Market Association that would honor its 30+ year collaboration while also making the changes identified as critical to the market’s continued success and the satisfaction of its shoppers.