Officials in Berkshire are working with marketing companies to change the perception of the Berkshires in order to position it as an attractive place in which to live and work. It is hoped that this will strengthen house prices and spur business growth.
There’s no doubt that since 2008, conditions for those looking to buy and sell homes – as well as those working in the real estate industry – have been challenging. However, over the past couple of months, there have been various reports of increasing home sales and interest in real estate across the Berkshires. Life is improving in the Berkshires, and a new marketing strategy will help maintain this.
Making Berkshire stand out
This week, a survey was sent out to Berkshire residents, business owners, students and previous visitors, asking them to specify what makes the area stand out to them. Surveys were also sent to a further 43,000 people, including Berkshire second home owners and potential tourists. The survey was devised and sent out by auditing company, 1Berkshire Strategic Alliance, with the aim of implementing a new marketing strategy for the area that would boost home sales, business and visits to the area.
A place to live, work and visit
“This is about the Berkshires as a place to live, work and go to college -- not just to visit," said 1Berkshire’s chief marketing officer, Lauri Klefos, who explained that the idea of the census was to get a proper insight into all aspects of life in the Berkshires. Klefos, who is also the president and chief executive officer of the Berkshire Visitors Bureau, hopes that a new strategy will spark business growth in the county through real estate transactions, tourism, and job creation.
1Berkshire will then look to develop a new brand for the area, working with Boston-based marketing company, ISM. "It may be a slogan, it may be a logo; whatever the plan, it will be a long-range strategy,” said Klefos.
Spur business growth
Business growth in the Berkshires has suffered since the onset of the financial crisis. Many companies have closed and jobs have been lost, and Massachusetts has earned itself an unwelcome reputation as being a tax burden. 1Berkshire’s chairman, Reggie Cooper, is confident that developing a new marketing strategy for the area will change these false perceptions. “There are people who still perceive Massachusetts as ‘tax-achusetts’ and that’s no longer the case. There are many other states who are more of a tax burden than us,” he said. It is true; many businesses have viewed Berkshire as a difficult place in which to start and run and business, thanks to high administration costs. A business seeking to start out would first have to think about rental costs and office insurance before even beginning to tackle business taxes; office insurance has had added value in such difficult times as any business would be looking for extra protection during a recession. These costs are therefore unavoidable for a business in any area. However, it has not been these costs that have proved the most crippling for businesses; it has been high local taxes.
However, these business conditions have since changed, as authorities sought to make life easier for companies struggling to operate during the recession. 1Berkshire’s new strategy will help to communicate the area’s business incentives, positioning it as an attractive place to live and work. “[The new strategy] will ensure that the business community thrives, that property values stay strong and services to the public are of the highest quality while we maintain our commitment to the natural beauty and amenities of the area," Cooper said.
Real estate strengthening
1Berkshire’s initiative is a reflection of recovering real estate prices across the Berkshires. Although recent reports have suggested that market performance varies between different parts of the county, the overall statistics indicate that 2013 is showing some strong and healthy growth. A new marketing strategy for the Berkshires will be a welcome asset to the real estate industry, particularly if it focuses on positioning the area as a good place in which to work; with job creation undoubtedly comes an increase in the number of sale and rental transactions. 1Berskhire has already promised that the new marketing strategy will create a simple, compelling message that will elevate the Berkshires from nearby competitive regions; any initiatives that will help to maintain the new-found strength of the property market are to be welcomed.
Anyone who has not received a survey can complete one online at www.1berkshire.com/survey