As summer progresses and we dodge the raindrops, we have noted a nice increase in tourism into our county. Marketing to visitors or tourists is an ongoing process. Marketing never takes a holiday. Though we have seasons and spikes in people visiting our county, our marketing efforts are truly year round. Some people plan their visits well in advance, while others are more “spur of the moment”.
We find that though the Internet is “King” and web marketing is effective, many people still want that paper flyer or magazine in their hand to review while planning their day or week. This is why we still see many requests for Grant County Activity Guides and other printed materials. Annually, we mail out over 800 planners to all four corners of the United States and even some to Canada. We like to report where our planners are being mailed, too. Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota are always common, but the southern states are also one of our biggest requesters for guides. The guides we mail out, coupled with the guides other chambers send, and what is dispersed at the Kieler rest center total around 20,000 annually. The new ATV/UTV maps have become one of our biggest demands recently. A lot of those maps are being sent to Illinois and Iowa. Still, many of our brochures, maps, and planners are sent to locations in Wisconsin, too. I always enjoy the annual request from 4th grade students from around the state who are assigned to do a report about a particular county. The lucky ones get Grant County. They are lucky because we have so much information about Grant County and our historic sites. When we receive a request, that recipient gets a lot of information about our fine county. We have received many “thank-you” cards and emails stating that our county sent them the most information.
Having an effective website is the other part of good marketing. I always feel that a visitor or person wanting information needs to be able to find that information with no more than 3 clicks of a mouse when on our website. The www.Grantcounty.org/tourism site is the county’s tourism website that we manage. We work to keep that information current and work closely with our webmaster, Webwise Design of Fennimore. Making sure information and web links are current and accurate is one of the more laborious tasks we have but it needs to be done to provide a quality experience for our visitors. People can learn about our communities and our county. They can see what we have for hotels, campgrounds, dining, and even download a copy of the travel planner and other maps. Some visitors want things available on their smart devices, so we work to give them that option as well as the paper versions.
Our website serves the visitors who want more information, as well as businesses, potential businesses, and entrepreneurs. Sometimes the person who is visiting will become the person who will want to site a business in Grant County.
We develop various marketing campaigns using tools such as Google Adwords, to drive more web traffic to our website. With the Hickory Grove Golf Course available for sale, we are utilizing Google to try to find a buyer that will retain it as a golf course by targeting people who may be interested in owning a golf course.
Marketing is not a passive event. It does not just happen. Whether it is in print or on a website, marketing is needed to share information and to attract new visitors to our county.
Ron Brisbois, Executive Director of Grant County Economic Development Corp.