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Consulting firm gives Emporia loads of background information, positioning statement options during special meeting

It's no secret that Emporia, Kan., does a lot of things well, from honoring veterans and teachers to sports events to specialty shopping.

For years, the question has been how to connect everything in a relatively unified message. To that end, the Convention and Visitors Bureau had PROOF, Inc., of Overland Park conduct a visitor profile study on who comes to Emporia and why -- and just how to bring more of those people to town.

Study details were unveiled and discussed Monday. PROOF Director of Brand Evidence Kurt Bartolich says Emporia has a lot of things to offer, but the awareness of those may not be as well known as they could be.

Bartolich presented a raft of background information, which is right now considered proprietary, and he also offered two general ideas on positioning statements. Bartolich prefers a non-mainstream, more unconventional statement because he believes that will differentiate Emporia from other similar-sized communities and even from some larger ones. CVB Director Susan Rathke says the mass of information was overwhelming but exciting to see.

Main Street Director Casey Woods was surprised by some of the data presented.

Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jeanine McKenna says PROOF's research was "right on target."

PROOF received surveys from close to 2,000 people, asking what brought people to town, how familiar they were with what Emporia has to offer, what Emporia does well, what may need changing and other questions. Bartolich says PROOF also "tested different themes" during its research. Several basic ideas may not have generated a lot of buzz by themselves, but started standing out when used in different combinations.

Bartolich says PROOF will have an executive summary of its findings by the end of next week, and additional discussion locally will start crystallizing after that is released.

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