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The Secret Corner campaign included social media outreach, wayfinding signage, brochures and kiosk information, and window clings for local businesses.

Knowing they simply couldn’t afford to market themselves individually, the eight small towns that comprise the Northwestern CT Regional Planning Collaborative banded together to market themselves as a region, enticing visitors to return to the area, rather than to a single Village Center.

Working with Studio Two, local businesses and historical societies, the Northwestern CT Regional Planning Collaborative (representing the Towns of Sharon, Falls Village, Goshen, Cornwall, Canaan, Salisbury, Kent, Norfolk) created a successful “Secret Corner” marketing campaign – and earned themselves CMSC’s 2014 Award of Excellence for Marketing and Communications in the process.

The northwest Connecticut Village Centers are relatively small, nestled into the countryside at a crossroads or river bend. Few have the critical mass of shopping or attractions to entice the weekend visitor to return, but together these eight towns’ Main Streets offer a lifetime’s worth of experiences to discover.

Like many small towns, those in the northwest corner couldn’t afford active marketing and communications campaigns on their own. Partnering provided a cost effective way to collaborate on marketing efforts by including neighboring Main Streets, in turn offering more attractions to a larger audience.However, creating a brochure, website or a Facebook page alone doesn’t attract attention.  The DiscoverNWCT  campaign utilized a variety of marketing tools to communicate with target audiences, combining them to reinforce the branding message.  As a result, social media presence was dramatically improved through the websitesdiscovernwct.com and secretcorner.org, which gains 150 new visitors per week.  Their Facebook page, DiscoverNWCT, has 1,107 followers. And a  Secret Corner brochure – distributed to hotels, shops, restaurants, and State visitor centers and the Big E – is now in its 3rd printing (10,000 copies).  Sixty local businesses sport window clings that identify them as part of the Secret Corner. And a series of Welcome signs and visitor information kiosks, with Secret Corner branded materials, are spread throughout the region. Each town has regionally themed signage at the gateways welcoming people to town and directing them to shops, restaurants, and the visitor information kiosks.
Jocelyn Ayre and Ruth Skovron of the NW CT Regional Planning Collaborative are excited to receive their Award of Excellence.

Jocelyn Ayre and Ruth Skovron of the NW CT Regional Planning Collaborative are excited to receive their Award of Excellence.

The Northwestern CT Regional Planning Collaborative facilitated outreach and input from all participating communities into the development of the brand and the towns in that region.  Local small businesses had extensive input into signage design and the website content, and are now active participants in the Secret Corner brand, posting materials and window signs.  Town leaders were also very active in helping to facilitate the ConnDOT permitting process for the regional signage program. As a result, this Village Center Signage & Wayfinding Program is now codified in ConnDOT’s Village Area Gateway Signage program.