Clara Olson of West Bend
smiles as she enjoys lunch with her brother, Sam, at
Sal's Pizza on Thursday afternoon in downtown West Bend.
The Downtown Business Improvement District for the city
of West Bend presented their marketing plan for the new
year to include more advertisement in multiple
John Ehlke/Daily News
two years, members of the Business Improvement District
had been subsidizing advertising activities designed to
promote downtown West Bend and the retailers that line
Entering the third year of the campaign, some are
beginning to question whether they can continue to
support the marketing measures as the request for
funding continues to increase.
Improvement District board members elected to withhold
approving the marketing budget that Anna Jensen, events
director for the Downtown West Bend Association, and
Diva Group member Jeanne Renick proposed during
Instead, they opted to leverage the experience of one of
their colleagues recently appointed to the board.
would like to throw a proposal out there that we table
this discussion, and we look to (Kathleen Murphy) to
look at this and maybe have a conversation with the
group who put this together,” President Mike Husar said.
“I would also like, as part of that proposal, to ask
Adam (Gitter) to come up with an idea that goes along
with what I proposed, of getting an inventory of
buildings, of types of businesses, and what kinds of
costs we would be looking at to do that.”
Murphy is a board member with experience in marketing,
while Gitter is the economic development manager for the
collaboration between the Improvement District and Diva
Group began in 2016 when the board members allocated
about $5,000 to the Diva Group for events and other
advertisements that include air time on local television
2017, the budget was increased to about $12,000. About
$2,000 of which paid for Diva Group gatherings such as
the Spring Bling. Another $1,000 was dedicated to
general marketing throughout 2017. There were additional
dollars earmarked for commercials to promote the
downtown West Bend area.
vehicle is seen moving north on Main Street on Thursday
afternoon in downtown West Bend.
John Ehlke/Daily News
proposed budget for 2018 increased to almost $20,000
spread among 10 initiatives.
“This year, we brought things more local,” Renick said.
“We are going to do all things within roughly the West
Bend area and the surrounding communities.”
Jensen and Renick’s proposal was comprised of
advertisements at high school, little league and ice
hockey athletic programs, plays and musical events,
parks and recreation booklets, walking maps and
community guides, as well as social media posts.
two proposed continuing the Diva Group events,
allocating $2,000 in sponsorship funds and another
$1,000 for a design consultation.
Questions regarding the proposal drew questions and
concerns almost immediately, especially with the
proposed funding for billboard advertising, $5,000.
“You are not going to get very far with that $5,000,”
Murphy said. “I don’t know if that is the best use of
your dollars. You will be lucky to get an effective
billboard for two months.”
marketing plan exposed impassioned divisions among
Improvement District members. At one end were board
members Brian Culligan and Peggy Fischer, who favored
do like where you guys are headed,” Fischer said. “I
think it is important that the funds are used to water
the seeds that have been planted in West Bend. We need
to grow this market. We still have people who don’t know
what is even going on in downtown and that is where it
is going to spread. It is going to start here, and it is
going to spread out.”
the other side was board member Herb Tennies.
“Where is our tool to measure what we are getting out of
this?” he asked. “I look at this Diva Group, that is
getting less and less every time. We see less people at
the downtown. Last time they ran Diva, I saw about three
or four people that crossed the street who were walking
with bags. I never see any of that traffic in my store.”
Tennies has been vocal about his opposition to the
marketing program. During prior meetings regarding the
program, he questioned if it was even permitted to spend
money for advertising.
Main Street bubbling?” Tennies asked. “I don’t think
noted the increase in the budget for marketing, and
wondered why more resources cannot be directed toward
improvement projects that would be benefit the area’s
aesthetics — landscaping and green spaces.
am also a fanatic, and analytic about results, and
through this whole marketing program, I have continually
asked them, and others have to, to demonstrate to us
return on investment,” said Anthony Jasen, BID board
member. “You have to have the ROI … I cannot make
financial decisions until there is data that is going to
tell me there is going to be a return on investment.”
Fischer countered that return on investment and other
performance measures cannot be attributed to one event
because of other intangible factors such as weather and
the timing of the event. It is difficult to trace the
sales results to a specific initiative.
Culligan added that performance measures can be
established for specific direct marketing initiatives,
but the proposed plan is a “shot gun” approach that
attempts to make inroads with consumers using varied
Husar also pitched his idea — directing some of the
funds toward taking an inventory of the buildings and
areas that are vacant and the businesses that are
present. They can then use that information as a
marketing tool to entice other businesses to establish
themselves in the downtown.
believed the increased activity would generate
additional revenues for everyone.