Coordinating Communities’ Marketing Efforts

Bruce Hill took on a monumental project when he became the Door County Community Marketing Fund Coordinator in mid-May. Yet in the months he’s held the position, he’s managed to whittle away at the daunting task of helping county communities answer the questions: “Who are we?” and “How do we spend room tax dollars to bring tourists to our community?”

The Community Marketing Fund (CMF) Coordinator position was created by the Door County Visitor Bureau (DCVB) as a means to administer room tax money to each Door County community for the marketing and promotion of each community outside of Door County. Money for the CMF position was allocated by the DCVB for three years, through 2011. Hill’s job is two-fold: to act as a bridge between the DCVB and each community to make sure the designated community marketing and promotion organizations receive the money allocated to them, and to work with those local organizations – such as the Sister Bay Advancement Association or the Jacksonport Area Business Association – to effectively spend that money.

Hill was well acquainted with Door County politics and the rifts in and between peninsula communities before he took on the CMF job. He and his wife purchased the Lull-Abi Inn of Egg Harbor in 2003. He served as a village trustee, village president, and vice chairman of the Door County Tourism Zone Commission – the entity that processes and disburses room tax collections. Hill has 25 years of experience in consumer packaged goods marketing, research and sales.

To evaluate each community, Hill asks the same questions of each business organization: Are you happy with your business organization and the way it’s organized? Are you satisfied with your base-level marketing (brochure, Web site), and is it effective? What are the activities that drive people to your community?

Jacksonport is a prime example of a community that is using Hill’s expertise to their advantage.

“Jacksonport was happy with their organizational set up, but not with their brochure,” Hill said. “I helped them work with a local graphics company, Boettcher Communications, and their brochure is now on par with Ephraim’s or Fish Creek’s. Their next step is to work on their Web site.

“What is important for communities to understand, is that the size of the community doesn’t matter,” Hill said. “No matter the size, their efforts to think about the big picture of how to improve their marketing and effectively spend the available funds will make a difference.”

DCVB President/CEO Jack Moneypenny said he’s received positive feedback from the communities about Hill.

“Bruce is a great liaison between our organization and the business associations,” Moneypenny said. “He informs them about our co-op opportunities, gives them face time and give business organizations the information they need. When the CMF funds go away in three years, I’m hoping we can keep funding Bruce so he can stay as a liaison. The business associations like having that link, of having someone to sit across the table from.”

After almost six months as coordinator, Hill determined there are three categories of community business organizations: those that are taking a very active role in improving their marketing and promotions; those that are just beginning to plan their strategies; and those that are getting a slower start in understanding how they can use the money.

“I can ask the big questions to these community organizations, but I have to be invited, I can’t just show up if they’re not ready for me,” Hill said. “These organizations don’t have to pay for my services, but they also have to understand it’s not my role to do their marketing.”

Hill can help an organization develop a marketing plan, but implementation is up to the members, he explained.

“The Ephraim Business Council hired a person to execute their marketing plan,” Hill said. “I administer the funds – pay the marketing and promotion bills – for all the communities. I helped Jacksonport with their brochure proofing and logo design, whereas Ephraim and Egg Harbor are able to pay staff to tackle those tasks.”

With half a year under his belt, Hill said he’s ready for round two and all of the opportunities and challenges that will come his way.

“Some communities will show real return right out of the gate for their work in 2009,” Hill said. “This program will cause these organizations to look at themselves differently. From the small question of how do we put on our festivals to, how do we use room tax money to create a recognizable brand?”

The following is an overview of how each community business organization has used the Community Marketing Funds (from the northern end of Door County, south). Dollar amounts are the CMF amounts allocated for 2009. If a community business organization does not use the entire amount allocated for 2009, the remaining funds rollover to 2010.

Washington Island: The Washington Island Chamber of Commerce used its $4,237 to update and refresh their base level marketing.

Ellison Bay/Liberty Grove: The Top of the Thumb organization is in the planning stages for using its $17,327.

Sister Bay: The Sister Bay Advancement Association used $19,332 of its $34,983 for brochure redesign and other media.

Ephraim: The Ephraim Business Council spent $22,585 of its $35,009 on brochure printing, sponsored the Door County Half Marathon for 2009 and 2010 and participated in DCVB co-op advertising.

Baileys Harbor: The Baileys Harbor Business Association is in the planning stages for using its remaining $9,889. In 2009, they used $7,769 for marketing.

Jacksonport: Jacksonport Area Business Association (JABA) used $1,200 of its available $3,727 for brochure design and logo development. JABA plans to donate the logo to the town, is creating a strategic marketing plan, and developed an advertising mechanism to offset their brochure printing costs.

Fish Creek: Fish Creek Civic Association spent $20,198 on brochure printing and development and co-op advertising. They are planning for the use of the remaining $17,413.

Egg Harbor: The Egg Harbor Business Association (EHBA) and the Carlsville Business Association (CBA) split the available $44,655 between the two organizations, at 60 percent and 40 percent, respectively. EHBA spent money on brochures and had them distributed in areas like the Wisconsin Dells. EHBA created radio and print ads to promote shows at the Peg Egan Center, and developed a women’s getaway weekend and promotions for that event. CBA bought space in the Egg Harbor brochure, created promotional material and ran features in the DCVB guide.

Sturgeon Bay: The Sturgeon Bay Visitor Center (which also represents businesses in Sevastopol) spent its $46,470 on various projects, promotions and marketing ventures.

Southern Door County: Nasewaupee appointed the DCVB as its marketing and promotions organization and gave DCVB its $3,165. Gardner has not yet designated an organization, but spent its $742.