GBA seeks nearly $300K for city promotion

  • Friday, April 12, 2013

Al Joseph, president of the GBA, top, speaks to other members. Tonia Speir with CASE Solutions is at right.

The Georgetown Business Association went before Georgetown City Council Thursday afternoon to make its pitch for a more than three-fold increase in marketing funds for the upcoming fiscal year.
Because of incorrect labeling on documentation provided by the GBA, it was reported last week the organization is currently operating with a budget of $297,000.
The actual amount allocated to the GBA by the city for 2012-13 was $80,000. The GBA is asking for $297,000 for 2013-14.
CASE Solutions of Pawleys Island is the agency handling the advertising campaign on behalf of the GBA.
During the presentation to council Thursday, Tonia Speir, owner of CASE, explained how the funds will be spent if the requested amount is granted.
The goal is to market the city to adults with disposable income “with added emphasis on women.”
Speir said the ad campaign will also target affluent couples and empty-nesters, boaters, part-time and seasonal residents and people who like to travel.
A portion of the advertising of the city will take place in driving-distance locations such as Atlanta, Greenville, Columbia, Asheville, Charlotte and Raleigh.
The “marketing tactics” in the upcoming year under the proposal includes:
• Continuing the GBA’s website enhancements.
• Expand movie theater advertising. Currently, ads promoting Georgetown are shown before some movies at theaters in Myrtle Beach. Under the proposal, that will be expanded to theaters in Mount Pleasant.
• Advertising at Welcome Centers.
• Shopping outlet advertising.
• Social media efforts which will include contests.
• Brochures showcasing the city’s history, recreation, dining and shopping.
• Out of market TV advertising.
• Ads in regional and national magazines.

This year’s results

Mayor Jack Scoville said he feels the GBA “has done a good job so far.”
He said he has received anecdotal information that indicates the ad campaign has generated “a lot of buzz about Georgetown.”
  Scoville said there is “no specific data” to show how the current ad campaign created by CASE Solutions has impacted tourism in the city “but many people say business is up.  Also I have been told by many visitors they have come because of the ads.”
Councilman Rudolph Bradley says he has not received any data from the GBA or any feed back from the merchants or visitors about the effectiveness of the current ad campaign. That, Bradley said, makes it difficult to determine if it has been successful.
Bradley, a local taxi driver, said he has seen an increase in  activity at hotels, restaurants and bars but does not know if the GBA is to be credited.

Stay with CASE?

When the GBA was looking for an advertising agency, CASE Solutions was chosen without the services going through a bidding process.
Scoville said he does not feel such tasks should always be presented to the lowest bidder.
“What we should do if council feels a change is needed is to solicit proposals. Ad agencies would submit proposals for an ad campaign along with estimated costs.,” Scoville said. “Council or the appropriate agency would select the most advantageous proposal based on cost and effectiveness.”
Bradley’s response about CASE was simple.
“If its not broke do not fix it,” he said.
Councilman Paige Sawyer said he is comfortable with the services that have been provided by the GBA and CASE.
“ I see more and more visitors to our city.  Automobiles with out of state license tags, tourists walking the streets, boaters coming in and docking, crowded restaurants and visitors in our churches,” Sawyer said. “Georgetown has so many amenities to offer and I think CASE Solutions has done a great job to increase the number of visitors to this wonderful place that we are blessed to live.”
Sawyer also said he sees no reason to change ad agencies.
“ I don't have a problem with the city continuing to work with CASE Solutions.  I believe they know our area well and have a good grasp on how and where to promote Georgetown and will continue to provide promotional ideas to increase the number of visitors to our area.”
During Thursday’s meeting, Councilman Brendon Barber asked GBA Chairman Al Joseph if their are any plans to seek bids from other ad agencies.
Joseph said the GBA has discussed that issue and has decided CASE needs three years in order to achieve “real measurable results.” The agency is in its second year.
Joseph said if a new agency is brought in now, the city would lose the money it has spent on the creative costs of the ad campaigns.
Barber said “with the amount of money being placed on the table, there needs to be more stringent guidelines.” He said there needs to be “more transparency” on the way funds are spent.
Brian Tucker, president of the Chamber of Commerce, said accountability steps have been taken. He said the city is now being provided with quarterly reports on the expenditures. Previously the reports were provided annually.

By Scott Harper

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