PRINCESS ANNE — Somerset County Department of Recreation, Parks & Tourism will begin streamlining its online marketing and promotional campaigns after receiving approval to run its internet services through a single provider.
That will put websites for Great Hope Golf Course, Recreation & Parks, and Tourism, under the D3Corp domain. The Ocean City company currently manages Somerset County’s Original Trail Mix, as well as Worcester County Tourism.
Rec & Parks Director Clint Sterling said it’s been one year since tourism was added to his list of responsibilities and he’s been looking at a more effective way to promote events and attractions while supporting local businesses.
His request moves money from print to digital and streaming services “to optimize the amount of eyes that are on our area” and to receive feedback on its value.
Mr. Sterling said although it’s expected, he can’t measure the effectiveness of appearing in a magazine. “I don’t know who’s looking at it,” he said, and he does not think that’s a good use of taxpayer dollars.
While he acknowledged that he personally clicks “Skip Ad” when an advertisement precedes an online video, he’s found that statistically, “a lot of folks have watched, about 70%, the entirety,” he said.
Under the new marketing plan D3Corp will be the “central location” for advertising, website design, social media “and other forms of promotion.” “A one stop shop,” Mr. Sterling said, “telling our story” through blog posts and newspapers, “and all the places people are spending time.” D3Corp “has the equipment and expertise to do it properly so it’s really cohesive.”
One opportunity he wants D3Corp to pursue is targeting potential visitors by their interests, such outdoor sports and recreational tourism. Mr. Sterling said he wants the county’s messages directed to households by what they’re interested in, “tailored right to their search engines.”
“The county has a really good story to tell,” he said, one that is “appealing to visitors. “We want to be a place where people want to live, visit and work....and promote the county in a good light.” He said he really wants to grow recreational tourism at the Westover park by nurturing more tournaments — which will be a benefit to restaurants and motels.
The County Commissioners approved an unbudgeted expense of $25,000 for this calendar year to cover the setup fees and monthly maintenance. As it moves forward the costs will give Mr. Sterling a guide on how to budget for the first six months of 2023. He said the one-time setup is approximately $6,000 with $1,500 a month the current estimate for maintenance.
In return he can eliminate the costs charged by other vendors that now provide these services. Although this was not put out on bid, if it turns out to be something he does not want to continue, the content up to that point will be owned by the county.
He said Worcester County’s website visitmarylandscoast.org which is managed by D3Corp “is very successful.”
“This brings our print, our billboards, how we act in the digital world and stories we want to tell...with professionals doing it,” Mr. Sterling said. He added later by email that “this will allow us to extend our promotion of the county and better serve our tourism partners in the event and business realm to maximize our/their reach and spread the word in a strategic manner about our wonderful county and towns and all we have to offer now and in the future.”