The Phoenix Reporter and Item (http://www.phoenixvillenews.com)

Valley Forge Tourism Board launches Shop Montco campaign

Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board looks to draw visitors from D.C., Baltimore and northern N.J.

By Donna Rovins, drovins@21st-centurymedia.com, @MercBiz on Twitter

Monday, August 28, 2017

Valley Forge >> Call it “Shop Montco — Chapter 2.”

The Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board is kicking off its second Destination Shop Montco television advertising campaign — targeting potential visitors from other markets including Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and northern New Jersey.

The campaign launched today and features television, social media and radio campaigns in those markets. It will run through the end of the week of Labor Day, according to Edward Harris, chief marketing officer for the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board. In addition, visitors to the agency’s website have an opportunity to win a $1,000 shopping spree in Montgomery County. The agency’s website features a Destination Montco shopping microsite — shopmontco.com .

“This is the prime time shopping season as people are transitioning to fall,” Harris said, adding that this year’s Shop Montco campaign builds on the success of last year.

“In year one of the campaign we took an out of market approach by connecting with groups of women that we wanted to come here for a shopping getaway with their friends. It was a fun campaign,” he said, adding that the campaign, which was targeted to a millennial audience, did get a lot of traction from the target regions.

In fact, the agency saw a 63.6 percent increase in page views on its website during year one of the campaign over the previous year.

“What’s unique this time around is that, in doing a lot of research on consumer spending within shopping, we discovered that the people who shop — who have the most disposable income — are women over age 50,” Harris said.

To reach that audience, this year’s campaign will feature a mother and her daughter meeting for a weekend shopping adventure.

“The TV spot opens with a daughter arriving and seeing her mother checking in to a hotel, and them embracing and then going off on a weekend shopping adventure,” Harris added. The ad also features hotel and dining options in Montgomery County.

The number one priority of the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board is to increase hotel occupancy. A close second, Harris said is to impact the economy in a positive way.

“Through this campaign, we are hoping to attract a lot of visitors to discover our content and all the other things you can do beyond shopping,” he said. “The shopping will be the catalyst in early fall to help bring visitors and, like last year, we will extend that push again as we approach black Friday shopping the last two weeks of November.”

While it would be difficult to capture just how many people came to Montgomery County based on the Shop Montco campaign last year, Harris said King of Prussia Mall saw 25 million visitors last year, and visitor spending was at an all time high.

“If we can be responsible for getting some of those 25 million people to come here, we’re going to continue to build Shop Montco every year,” he said. In fact, Harris added that he has already starting thinking ahead to year three for Shop Montco.

“One thing I have learned in brand building — having come from the sneaker and apparel world — is that the best brands have to be consistent yet refreshed each year and connect with an important audience,” he said. “We’re expanding the reach of what a shopping trip could be for different groups of people.

“We’re only in year two, which in brand building is still the infant stages.”

Harris said that because last year’s campaign was the first time the agency had done a shopping campaign, they didn’t quite know what to expect.

“I kind of equate it to a new album — you put the first one out in the world and hope people will respond positively. That’s kind of how it felt,” he said. “We were the new kids on the block coming up with a shopping campaign and taking it out of market and watching the response in terms of traffic to our website and we learned a lot. As we go into year two, we’re testing our learnings.”

Coming later in September will be another effort designed to bring more visitors to Montgomery County — this time from Philadelphia.

The Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board has teamed with SEPTA, to expand that agency’s “I SEPTA Philly” initiative.

“I SEPTA Montco” will be built around the same idea — to have area businesses offer perks to SEPTA riders that show their SEPTA keycards.

“With SEPTA having 49 train stops in Montgomery County — this is a chance to get more people from Philly into our small towns,” Harris said, adding that while some of the details are still being finalized for the “I SEPTA Montco” initiative, “this is definitely happening.”

The promotional campaign, focused closer to home than the Shop Montco campaign, will be focused on both the SEPTA and Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board websites, social media and billboards.

“We’re going to be encouraging people to ride SEPTA to Montgomery County towns,” Harris said. “It will kick off most likely at the end of September — right on the heels of the out of market shopping campaign.”

“I SEPTA Montco” will start with the rail system, but may expand to buses.

For more information visit www.valleyforge.org .

Email business story ideas to business writer drovins@21st-centurymedia.com