Scott Schroen, marketing director for the Fat Tire Festival, made a pitch for marketing support at the May 10 City Advertising and Promotion Commission meeting. The event, which includes various mountain bike races, group rides and events for children, will take place at Lake Leatherwood July 14-17. This year marks the 19th year for the event, and Schroen requested $10,000 for promotion and advertising.
Parks Director Justin Huss urged the commission to support the event. He called the Fat Tire Bike Shop in Bentonville “an excellent corporate citizen.” Huss pointed out next year will the 20th year, “so let’s grow it to a high level. I heartily endorse the event.”
Executive Director Mike Maloney said the promoters project that there will be 500 attendees who will stay two nights in town, so the festival will have a high public relations value for Eureka Springs.
Schroen called the festival “a beast of an event” for promoters. His intention is for the community to benefit from the experience and for participants to leave feeling like they had a good time. He said promoters would move forward regardless of support, but “the more we put into it, the better it will be.”
He commented the event has progressed over the years from a series of mountain bike races to a festival type event where folks attend just to watch and have fun. Participants as far away as the bike-friendly towns of Colorado Springs and Park City, Utah, put it on their calendars. “We should ride the wave, be a part of the momentum,” he said, adding that he wanted to extend the reach through more advertising.
Commissioner Susan Harman was first to notice that with the social media marketing the CAPC employs already, would there not be duplication in advertising and the request more than necessary to extend the reach? Commissioner Terry McClung, who chaired the meeting, was okay enhancing the marketing reach for the festival, but also suggested a lesser amount.
Commissioner David Mitchell moved to provide $2500 in marketing support, but there was no second.
Harman moved to provide $5000, and again there was no second.
Commissioner Bobbie Foster commented it has been a good weekend for merchants in town during the event, and the town needs new types of entertainment for visitors. She moved to provide $7500 in support, and got a second.
Maloney said the funds would be used to reach the biking world, which is discovering our trails, and he expected there would be return visitors as a result of marketing support. Events Coordinator Andy Green said he has worked with the promoters before, and noted they brought young people to Bentonville, “and you couldn’t find better partners to attract that group.”
Commissioner Dustin Duling remarked this is the demographic the CAPC has been focusing on, and Fat Tire can reach them, “so let’s get behind them.”
Mitchell was still unsure about the funding amount, but Maloney stated it would be a good move.
Vote to provide $7500 in marketing support was 4-1, Mitchell voting No.
Social media expansion
Maloney stated analytics indicate the social media strategy has been effective at finding a younger audience while continuing to reach demographics across the board. He targeted viewers in Atlanta, Nashville and Cincinnati, with best results coming from Atlanta. Next he will place Facebook ads in Minneapolis, Austin and Chicago. He mentioned Chicago has already been looking at Eureka Springs, so it will be interesting to see the response.
He said there were 1000 articles about Eureka Springs in the previous month, and 158 million people read about Eureka Springs, the equivalent of $431,000 in public relations value. In addition, KOLR-10 television in Springfield came to town and spoke with Huss and Mayor Butch Berry, which gave the town 10 minutes of prime time programming.
Next workshop will be Wednesday, May 24, at 4 p.m., at the CAPC office, and the next regular meeting will be Wednesday, June 14, at 6 p.m.