LENOX -- Town leaders and the Chamber of Commerce are moving ahead to promote new and expanded off-season events through the Berkshire Visitors Bureau as well as on an enhanced local web site.
Since mid-September, upcoming weekend attractions and the overall fall-foliage season -- touted as the entire month of October -- have been prominently featured on the BVB's website, berkshires.org.
The Select Board authorized spending up to $2,000 for the campaign designed by Kevin Sprague, founder and creative director of the Studio Two web design and PR firm in downtown Lenox.
The effort shepherded by Selectman Channing Gibson has yielded a dramatic in crease in web traffic to the local lenox.org site run by the Chamber and extensively redesigned by Sprague.
"Certainly, we're getting a lot of exposure that we wouldn't have gotten without this," said Gibson.
The Select Board plans to meet with the BVB's CEO, Lauri Klefos, to explore a stepped-up, ongoing collaboration, and will also hear from Sprague about a potential Google ad campaign.
"This is a perfect partnership for Lenox and the visitors' bureau," Klefos told The Eagle on Saturday. "It plays to our mutual strengths. They have the information and we have the ability to get the word out to potential visitors whom we know are interested in coming to the Berkshires."
She intends to urge the town to be "more aggressive throughout the year, to have a consistent presence instead of just a couple of months."
Klefos cited 10,000 visitors a week to the bureau's website this past summer along with "blasts" to an e-mail list targeted to 42,000 people who have signed up to receive the information.
Noting that Pittsfield, North Adams, Lee and Williamstown have promoted their communities and specific events through the bureau's marketing tools, Klefos said the BVB is heavily involved in social media, notably Facebook with 14,000 "likes," and also reaches out to traditional media for coverage of the Berkshires and its towns.
The increased emphasis on local marketing represents a distinct change in direction for Lenox, following expiration of its 15-month contract with New York's Bodden Hamilton Partners and the demise of its divisive "Lenoxology" branding slogan.
Selectman David Roche said the BVB-Studio Two effort will be reviewed "to see what it's doing for us initially before we make a long-term decision. So far, it looks positive and ties in with what we're trying to do with the marketing of the town through the Chamber's website. So far, so good."
But Selectman John Mc Ninch said he wants to see the Chamber successfully execute other aspects of marketing the town before he's convinced that the organization should carry the ball.
McNinch advocated a more unified Chamber, which represents 60 to 75 percent of local businesses, according to recent estimates.
Sprague, detailing results of the new marketing campaign launched through the BVB, said traffic to the Chamber's website increased in September by nearly 1,000 percent compared to August -- 8.322 visits, with 722 resulting from the BVB campaign.
"Around here, that's a pretty good number, a nice traffic pop," he said. "For me, it's about customer service and this campaign is an appropriate way to serve customers looking for something to do in the Berkshires and driving them toward Lenox."
"It's an appropriate relationship to continue with the BVB," he added. "The town has an obligation to everyone involved to be able to deliver statistical data to measure the performance of any marketing campaign."
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