Local leaders share their vision of a future Eau Claire

Trying to sell the city of Eau Claire to a slew of travelers may come as a daunting or insurmountable task for the average person.

But for city Destination Marketers, it’s all in a day’s work.

The work of these marketers doesn’t end at bringing visitors and prospective residents to Eau Claire once, twice or even daily. It’s a matter of making sure they want to return for more, and hopefully, never want to leave.

This was the focus of the Big Ideas Summit, where local leaders and destination marketers from around the region gathered to share experiences and expertise over what marketing strategies continue to work for their cities and why.

These experiences were meant to spark a conversation about what the city of Eau Claire can do to make itself stand out.

Linda John, executive director of Visit Eau Claire, said cities often learn from the successes and failures of other cities. By seeing whether something works and why it does, other cities are able to repurpose an event or experience on their own.

Each of the communities mentioned at the summit would not be able to identically recreate an experience of another community, John said. What the communities share is their ability to capitalize on what works for their own people.

“It’s about creating excitement,” John said, “It’s about recognizing lots of positive changes and seeing how we can become a part of it.”



Instead of marketing to older generations, many of which who have already made up their minds about the city, Bill Geist, Chief Instigator of ZeitGeist consulting said, a new brand for Eau Claire might be able to attract young faces to the city.

Geist stressed the importance of tapping into the minds of millennials.

“(They) will set their roots here,” Geist said, “and will see it as a place to live, to invest in.”

Communicating a vision

After Wendy Hielsberg unveiled the city of Oshkosh’s newest billboard, which announced the city’s rebrand to “Event City,” she was shocked to see looks of confusion and distaste in the crowd.

“We had a major perception problem,” Hielsberg said. “What the community thought and what (I) did were way off.”

Hielsberg’s experience taught her that there’s more to the planning process than following through with what looks good. A city brand needs to work for the city as well as its residents.

With these ideas in mind, Visit Eau Claire is doing whatever it can to create a community buzz and revamp dated impresions of the city.

“We’ve all got the same goals here,” John said. “Nothing bad can come from sharing our ideas.”