By Heath Lee, Director of Mountain Regional Library System
In order to outshine other tourist destinations and to support their economies, the small mountain towns of north Georgia must showcase themselves to a wide audience of people. The Fannin County Public Library, located in beautiful Blue Ridge, Georgia, recently had an opportunity to promote its services to the area’s many tourists and locals alike through a grant from the Fannin County Chamber of Commerce.
Their $10,000 marketing and tourism grant is intended to drive visitors from outside Fannin County to enjoy the library’s services and hopefully spend some money while visiting Blue Ridge. We decided to utilize Spotify ads and digital BLIP Billboards, which our library had employed through a previous marketing grant from Georgia Public Library Service.
Spotify is advantageous because it allows customization of our target markets by filtering an audience via miles from a business, specific area codes, and more. With BLIP Billboards and Spotify, we could place ads in larger regional areas like Cleveland, TN, Murphy, NC, Huntsville, AL, and Clemson, SC. Ultimately, we chose not to use BLIP billboards, as we later discovered it can be difficult to compete with organizations and companies that have a much larger marketing presence and budget.
The Spotify campaign ran during January and February 2023, resulting in 14,356 unique users being exposed to our ad.
We also purchased a static billboard located on southbound I-75 near Calhoun, Georgia. We chose southbound traffic in hopes of catching the eyes of travelers leaving the Chattanooga, TN, area and looking for a great place to visit before hitting the I-285 Perimeter of Atlanta. The billboard will be on display from Feb. 1-May 31, 2023, providing the Fannin County Public Library significant exposure to millions of highway travelers. Our staff negotiated with the billboard company, passed along our needs and wants for the signage, and the billboard company did the rest, including designing the billboard itself. We couldn’t be happier with the outcome.
Staff felt these broader-reaching techniques would find success in reaching out-of-town visitors, and in thinking how else to spend funds, we chose to think in a more narrow, focused way.
We thought it would be a clever idea to use grant funds to cover out-of-state member fees for the first 50 out-of-state people interested in acquiring a PINES card. Fannin County borders both Polk County, Tennessee, and Cherokee County, North Carolina. What better way to draw in library users from other states than by offering free services while visiting Blue Ridge? Staff also chose to create additional literacy and STEAM kits that can be marketed to areas not currently offering these unique circulating items.
Our library system has been fortunate in fostering great relationships with all of our local chambers of commerce, and the relationship with the Fannin County Chamber of Commerce paid off handsomely. The relationship really started blooming when a local board trustee asked the simple question: “When are you going to apply for the chamber grant?” We hope our campaign will bring many new people to the library, and they will spend time (and money!) in the Blue Ridge community. A true win-win for everyone involved.