Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how much beautiful mystery you can offer, no-one wants to be an ambassador for your brand.
Lowestoft, the coastal town in Suffolk that I’ve called home for the past three years, is one such brand that no one wants to support. The locals rarely have a good word to say about it, and the rest of the country treats it as something of a joke.
When you’re faced with a brand like Lowestoft, you have to use negative marketing – you have to take the complaints, and make them sell your brand.
The two main complaints about Lowestoft, from locals, are:
. “It’s not Norwich” (the sentiment, if not the actual words. Norwich is our nearest city, 30 miles away. If you don’t have a lot of spare cash, it’s not that great.)
. “There’s nothing to do”
Below is an example of a marketing plan using both of the above complaints, for “brand Lowestoft”:
“In Norwich, you can’t watch the sun play over the ocean at the most Easterly point in the UK. In Norwich, you can’t enjoy a pint and a some crisp, golden chips looking out over the open sea, the wind ruffling your hair, the sun warm against your face. In Norwich, you can’t enjoy an ice cream in the middle of lazily-playing fountains, or watch a shoal of goldfish gleaming through the ripples of a pond in front of a restaurant in a public park.
In Norwich, there are no shadowy scores that speak of smugglers and secrets, and the main shopping thoroughfares don’t feature quality independent shops and well-known chains sat side-by-side, a bright parade of potential purchases, and an ideal, intriguing way to while away a Sunday afternoon – perhaps as you walk off an early lunch at a seafront pub, or as you head down for a final seaside drink?
Nowhere in Norwich can you walk around the last fishing trawler of its kind to be built in the town, and see how her crew used to live and work. Norwich’s museums don’t sit on the wild, rugged coast, or in public parks, offering a day out for everyone, not just the history buffs.
Norwich music doesn’t come complete with a sea view, and a restaurant right next door to the gig venue.
In Norwich, there’s very little opportunity to do nothing, very few places to just sit, or stand, and simply be. Norwich doesn’t encourage loitering. To Norwich, buildings and parks, rivers and architecture, are just insignificant backdrops, rather than something that should be placed centre-stage, and spot lit.
There’s nothing to do in Lowestoft but step out of the rat race for a while, relaxing in the shade of Sparrow’s Nest, taking in sun, sea and sand on South Beach, or remembering bygone travels just outside the town proper at the Transport Museum in Carlton Colville. There’s nothing to do but walk along London Road North, perhaps calling in to Beales for homewares or stylish fashion, Waterstones for the latest best-seller, or Annatar’s for quirky, independent alternative gifts, and then head into the historic High Street, where the streets are still narrow, and the shadowy scores run steeply down to the sea. Before you go any further, though, why not stop off at Coffee Heart, and enjoy a selection of cakes, sandwiches, and hot and cold drinks, including gluten free offerings, while your children explore the range of retro toys on offer? In Lowestoft, there’s nothing to do but head to South Beach, with its vast expanse of golden sand that’s just perfect for a game of Frisbee, and just a short walk from the independent shopping district of Kirkley, where you needn’t be shy of entering the Coconut Loft, which offers excellent refreshment, a selection of art from local artists, and a delightful boutique deli.
And if, after all that, you still want to visit Norwich, it’s less than an hour by train, which runs direct from Lowestoft, with the station in the centre of town, with trains running every hour to Norwich, Ipswich, and London, as well as Beccles, Woodbridge, and Halesworth.
Lowestoft: it’s not Norwich, but it’s close enough.”