Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Marketing group makes funding pitch

Seeks at least $356K from city


By REBECCA MEANY
Express Staff Writer

Representatives from the Sun Valley Marketing Alliance made a pitch to the Sun Valley City Council for funding equal to or greater than the $356,000 that the city contributed for fiscal 2012.

The alliance's presentation May 16 was part of the city's preliminary budget planning process for fiscal 2013.

"I want to urge you to think of the Marketing Alliance not simply as a line-item budget item, but as an investment in the city that we all represent," said Brooke Wojcik, Sun Valley's representative on the alliance board. "Similar to an investment someone might make in the stock market, there needs to be an inherent belief that our product is good, trust in the people behind the product and faith that those two beliefs are well founded."

Without consistent funding, "we get more of what we have," she said.

Wojcik said consistent funding would mean consistent growth in demand for Sun Valley, fueling local economic growth.

Arlene Schieven, president and chief marketing officer, said the alliance is taking a two-pronged approach to marketing.

"Our goals, the primary one is we want to raise awareness, get people thinking about Sun Valley, and at the same time increase visitation," she said.

Money the Sun Valley Marketing Alliance budgeted this fiscal year for advertising is about 64 percent for winter recreation/alpine skiing, 5 percent for Nordic skiing, 31 percent for summer and 5 percent for mountain biking.

Schieven said the alliance is seeking to make inroads with Nordic skiers and mountain bikers.

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"With those niche markets it's much easier, it's less expensive," she said. "You can really connect with those audiences, as opposed to going into L.A and trying to talk to [alpine] skiers. It's a much more difficult task."

Last year, the alliance spent $17,000 for Nordic advertising; this coming season it wants to spend $20,000.

Schieven said the alliance is spending $100,000 on the summer marketing campaign, with a focus on the cultural and recreational offerings, but told in a nontraditional way.

"What's unique is that Sun Valley has both," she said.

The push is to sell the idea that Sun Valley is an easy escape from target markets of Seattle, Los Angeles and Boise.

"The whole campaign is centered around this idea of 'skip town,'" she said. "Skip town, come to Sun Valley, and here's why."

Schieven said that with a smaller budget than many competitors, Sun Valley needs to be unique to get noticed.

"We are taking a little bit of risk and I think it's important that we continue to do that," she said.

Councilman Nils Ribi urged the alliance to be more efficient and find areas it can improve upon.

He questioned the www.visitsunvalley.com website content, saying it was too focused on activities for locals and didn't do enough to highlight banner events such as the Ride Sun Valley Mountain Bike Festival.

He also questioned why the alliance still had winter-themed photos on the website.

"It's all outdated," he said. "You guys can do things to help yourself."

"It should have been May 1, no question," Schieven agreed. "You'll see a change very soon, but we are behind."

Rebecca Meany: rmeany@mtexpress.com




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