At its April 7 meeting, Hardy’s Advertising and Promotions Commission discussed a town hall meeting it planned to hold on April 14 at the Old Hardy Gym. The meeting was designed to discuss how A and P funds have been spent in the past and detail its plan to get more bang for the buck as it promotes the town as a tourist attraction. The Brooks Jeffrey Marketing firm was present to discuss the long term marketing strategy that it developed.
Hardy is one of 30 cities in Arkansas that has an Advertising and Promotions Commission to promote tourism and economic development. The A&P Commission was formed by an ordinance in September 2001 and is funded by a city wide tax on overnight lodging and prepared foods. The tax currently brings in about $90,000 yearly with one-third of that traditionally dedicated to the city parks.
The new group of commissioners are redirecting dollars in hopes of bringing even more tourists and new residents to the area, which will boost local lodging, restaurants, and businesses, and help spur new economic development for the area. One big change was to end an expensive agreement with KAIT Television, which had installed a camera it used to provide live shots of Hardy during its weather forecasts. The A and P Commission ended the agreement after deciding that the town was not getting the promotion that the camera was supposed to provide.
The A&P Commission began its collaboration with the Brooks Jeffrey Marketing Firm last fall, and the town hall meeting informed the public about what has been done so far. One of the advancements is a new logo developed for the city to be used in marketing efforts. The logo boasts, “Hardy Arkansas 1883, Spring River, artisans, music,” four identifiers that commission members believe are the area’s unique selling points. The logo can now be seen on billboards, signage, banners, magazine ads, radio ads, stationary, rack cards, business cards, letterheads, and t-shirts. The first 50 registrants at Monday’s meeting received a free Hardy logo t-shirt. They will soon be available for purchase.
Along with the logo, the city’s branding effort includes a website: visithardyarkansas.com that highlights the area’s four selling points through a list of Hardy artists and craftsmen, a description of all the activities the Spring River offers, photos and descriptions of the town’s historic and cultural heritage and a list of the music offered in the area throughout the year by the town’s talented musicians. The website also includes a calendar of events, a downloadable brochure, news, and a photo gallery. A “things to do” list appears all over the website promoting bingo, canoeing, fishing, floating, hunting, RV/ camping, zip line and shopping. The commissioners plan to provide a detailed description of the new website and inform those in attendance at the town hall meeting about the free website marketing available to all Hardy businesses.
Hardy is also currently being promoted as a top Ozarks tourist destination through ads in the Arkansas Parks and Tourism’s Motorcycle Guide and the Ozark Gateway Magazine. With 60,000 copies of the Ozark Gateway Magazine printed and distributed every year, the impact of the ad is expected to be substantial.
The public meeting included a meal provided by Hardy restaurants who displayed their specialties.
The commission plans to hold future town hall meetings in hopes of getting more citizens involved in efforts to improve the town and bring more people to the area to boost the local economy.