City, county moving forward on marketing strategy to attract retirees; $60,000 to $80,000 annual media campaign may be on tap

The business of attracting lucrative retirees to live in Lawrence and Douglas County is beginning to get a clearer price tag.

It looks like it will take around $60,000 to $80,000 worth of advertising a year to get the job done.

Lawrence city commissioners at their Tuesday meeting are being asked to approve a contract with the Lawrence-based Kern Group to develop a comprehensive marketing strategy to convince higher-end retirees that Lawrence and Douglas County are great places to settle.

The company — which is led by advertising and marketing veteran Mark Kern — will create a title/slogan for the effort, a logo, a Web site, a package of marketing materials to provide to interested retirees, and concepts for radio, television, print and Internet ads.

The proposed contract calls for that work to cost $34,500, with the city and the county splitting the costs.
But the more substantial commitment comes in the form of an annual advertising budget that Kern estimates will need to be in the $60,000 to $80,000 range each year. At least a couple of years of that type of spending, but maybe four or five, may be in order, the proposal suggest. Kern has suggested a good amount of that money, however, can come from private partners in the community that would benefit by having a larger retiree presence in the city. Creating a list of those potential partners is one of the things Kern will do as part of the initial contract.

It will be interesting to see what type of slogan or tag line the marketing folks come up with for Lawrence and Douglas County. Maybe: Lawrence: Where ‘Hawks Come to Roost and Retire. Or DOuglas County: We DO retirement. Or since edgy seems to be all the rage in advertising these days: Lawrence: Where Keg Stands aren’t Just for the Young. (Yeah, I don’t understand why the advertising people never invite me to lunch.)

Expect whatever campaign develops (I haven’t yet trademarked the ones above, but you had better hurry) to have a strong element designed to attract KU alumni. Kern’s proposal calls for developing advertising that would work well in various KU publications, such as the Alumni Association and KU Endowment’s magazines. Plus, the marketers will look at developing television advertising to run in the other regional cities that televise Jayhawk sporting events.

Douglas County leaders are optimistic that attracting the right type of retiree will greatly increase the amount of disposable income in Lawrence and Douglas County and provide a boost to area businesses.

This marketing contract is just the latest budget item to come up related to the retiree efforts. The city and county earlier agreed to restructure the Douglas County Senior Services Board and put it in charge of overseeing the Web site and the retiree attraction efforts.

As a result, Lawrence and Douglas County also have both expressed a willingness to provide additional funding to Douglas County Senior Services as it seeks to hire a new director that has the skill set to lead the retiree attraction program. It previously has been estimated that could require the salary of the approximately $55,000 a year position to be boosted by $15,000 to $25,000 a year to attract the right candidate.

City commissioners meet at 6:35 p.m. on Tuesday. Maybe by then I’ll have some other slogans. Oooh, got one: Lawrence: Where You’re Never Old Enough to Know Better.