A few folks are wondering if Paris should change its name to Webster, as words can’t describe us.

For instance, Paris (or Webster, if you prefer) is the only place in the world where highway construction is considered “marketing” – ???

The Paris Chamber has almost always thought that marketing was, first, determining who your target customers are: Knowing who your prospective customers are should have a direct effect on where you spend your advertising dollars.

But the PEDC is putting the taxpayer’s dollars into highways?

Who the targeted customers are, only the PEDC – and those who like the busy work of “doing something” – know.

Marketing is a tightly integrated effort to discover, create, arouse and satisfy customer needs. So, if building highways is part of our marketing effort, why not really improve Paris (or Webster)?

Why not improve the looks, the obsolete housing, the growing poverty that is leading to increased crime rates, or just clean-up the grass, weeds and litter along city streets and build the dozens of amenities that Paris (or Webster) needs…?

Of course, those thing are not actually marketing.

In its purest form, marketing is selling what you’ve actually got, building a brand about your product, like Coke, Toyota, Dell, and thousands of others; or a community, like Taos, Granbury, Branson, Hot Springs, Shreveport, or even San Antonio.

Branding is the most difficult endeavor that a business, a company or a community can undertake. But marketing strategists agree that brand awareness in any industry gives that company an edge.

Brand awareness follows a certain process, although the customers targeted do not usually think through these steps when choosing a product. Or in choosing a community in which to live and do business.

The name – the brand – is important. It’s why the Paris Chamber keeps asking, “What kind of town do you want to live in…?”

This year, the Paris Chamber offered Paris (or Webster) a vision for a brand, and the steps to achieve it, that would have transformed the community. But the Paris (or Webster) leadership preferred keeping the current brand or theme of being the Texas Coliseum: A monumental ruin.

And the PEDC is building highways to it…

Sister Rosetta Tharpe probably had Paris (or however we’ll be known) in mind when she recorded,There Are Strange Things Happening Every Day.”