Archive for the ‘Economic Development Marketing in Tough Times’ Category
The competition between cities and towns to attract investment in their region has become fierce. With the market changing so much in recent years thanks to the global economic downturn and the growth of technology, it’s no longer enough for economic developers to churn out clichéd phrases like ‘we have the best quality of life’.
In 2016 and beyond, it’s all about differentiation for economic developers. Every investment attraction campaign will undoubtedly say that their area has an exceptional quality of life, as well as great transport links, superb support for businesses, and so on. It’s essential to set yourself apart from the crowd and offer something that no one else has.
Finding the essence of your community
Investment attraction nowadays is all about finding what makes your community attractive to businesses, individuals and investors. What kind of lifestyle can your city offer? What business infrastructure is in place? What features of your city are most appealing (museums, nightlife, climate, geographical location, etc.)?
Carry out extensive research of the local community to find out why people come to your city – and why they’ve stayed. Once you’ve pinpointed the essence of your community, you can start to carve out your own niche.
Focus on your prospects’ needs
All marketing is about the prospect and their needs – if you don’t know what your potential investors are looking for in a development, you can’t possibly market to them successfully. Extensive research is needed to identify your prospects and narrow down the target audience. You’ll need to separate them into different sectors and identify the characteristics that define them and their needs.
Once you’ve defined each segment, you can match up your authentic offerings to their needs, and come up with marketing campaigns that hammer home these key messages.
Don’t take the scattergun approach
It’s important when trying to attract investors not to try and spread your marketing strategy too thin. You can’t possibly make a strong statement if you’re trying to position yourself as all things to all people. Instead of trying to list every great thing about your city or region, narrow it down to between three and five key points, and develop a strategy to really drum them home. Your messages will be delivered loud and clear, rather than going unnoticed in the noise from other cities trying to achieve the same thing.
Focus on telling stories
Storytelling is the very essence of marketing – so why not let your investors do some of the work for you? Investors who have been successful in helping to develop a region in your city should be given ample time and space to tell others what they’ve accomplished. Everyone loves a success story, and weaving them into your investment attraction strategy will surely see an uptick in interest.
The most important thing you can do is remain authentic throughout the investment attraction process. If you market your city as something it isn’t, your investors will end up let-down further down the line. But if you market your city based on its existing strengths, then strive to deliver an experience that goes above and beyond what your investors initially expected, you’ll find your own magic formula for investment attraction.
The way governments and councils communicate with their residents is changing rapidly – thanks, in large part, to the enormous developments in technology that have taken place over the last two decades. With citizen engagement trends evolving so fast, we’ve taken a look at some of the most interesting trends coming through right now, to offer inspiration for those trying to remain ahead of the curve.
The majority of individuals now have some form of smartphone. In Canada, for example, smartphone penetration has hit 60%, and experts believe that the figure could be as high as 80% in the US. With such sophisticated technology at the fingertips of your residents, it’s easy to turn your residents into assets for your community, by engaging them in the reporting process.
Using smartphones and the internet, residents can now report crimes, flag up potholes on their roads or otherwise notify the authorities about something which needs to be addressed. They can use their built-in cameras to record accompanying video or take still images of the scene, as well as leveraging GPS technology to pinpoint the exact location of the problem. This exciting trend gives the public more power in their community, and helps speed up the process of service requests.
Citizens as customers
Think of the immense customer experience that individuals receive today, from big brands like GrubHub, Uber, Amazon, Apple and Costco. These businesses have a streamlined user experience that can make government processes seem slow and sluggish in comparison. If only changing your address was as easy as ordering an Uber directly to your door!
With such pressure from the private sector, councils and governments are adopting a new approach: treating their citizens like customers. In a sense, residents can be seen as customers anyway, having paid their taxes, which are put towards certain services. This means striving to satisfy them and providing the type of customer experience that they might aim for if they were working for a firm like Apple or Amazon.
Leveraging open data
Put simply, if you’re not giving your citizens access to open data, you’re at risk of falling seriously behind competitors. Open data is described as ‘data that can be freely used, re-used and redistributed by anyone’, and it has two key benefits for citizen engagement. The first is that it promotes transparency. Transparency helps citizens understand their government, and it also reduces the number of Freedom of Information requests the government has to deal with.
The second benefit of leveraging open data is that it gives technologically-minded individuals and entrepreneurs the ability to turn the data into something useful. Whether it’s creating an app with a map of the nearest public broadband points, or developing a system which delivers bus and train arrival times directly to your smartphone, those with an entrepreneurial mindset can take the masses of raw data and turn it into something useful for the local community.
Attracting the finest talent to your city can offer a welcome boost for the entire region – especially in the highly competitive digital age. But how can you remain ahead of the curve and prove that your city is the place to be? How can you attract the brightest sparks from a range of industries and convince them to set up shop in your town?
Take a look at these innovative ideas for attracting major talent from across the globe:
It’s not all about jobs
Jobs and career progression might be the key reason why most talented individuals move to a new city – but it’ll never be the reason that they stay. Amenities are essential, and you must endeavor to promote the kind of lifestyle that talented millennials seek. Focus on the things that your city does well. If your city is renowned for its museum culture, make that a focal point of your talent attraction campaign. If your city has a thriving café culture, or great nightlife, be sure to put these key points across when you’re promoting the city as a great place for bright sparks to be.
Celebrate entrepreneurship and ambition
Make sure that you’re celebrating, promoting and encouraging entrepreneurship at every turn. That might include investing in affordable co-working spaces for new start-ups, or offering grants for new businesses in certain fields. Perhaps you’ll add a ‘New Business of the Month’ feature to your municipal website, giving one lucky start-up additional exposure for nothing. It’s important to show that your city will be the ideal environment for a fledgling business to grow and expand.
Engage with young adults
In order to make your town a welcoming, appealing place for global talent, you need to engage with the kind of young adults you’re trying to attract. Carry out surveys of talented individuals who have already chosen to move to your city, and use their responses to feed your future marketing endeavors. Try to keep in touch with former residents – you can gain important feedback on why they left and what it was that attracted them to another destination. Their thoughts and opinions on your city can be vital.
When you’re considering development plans that affect this community, you should also engage them as often as possible in the planning process. Find out what they think of the plans, and what they want to see from the development. By engaging them in this important process, you’re also helping instill a sense of loyalty and involvement.
Promoting your city is essential to attracting talent – they’ll never find it if they don’t know you’re there! Marketing your city in the right way will help it become that hub of millennial activity.
Telling stories is key to marketing, and you can leverage existing small business owners or successful professionals in your campaign, asking them to offer advice, tips and words of wisdom to new individuals thinking of moving to your city.
An important best practice in the field of investment attraction is to determine and quantify what works for your community and what doesn’t. Tough economic times call for implementing economic-development programs with the highest likelihood of demonstrable success.
Most successful economic development organizations have sound performance objectives as their starting point. This means not only tracking final results, but also the effectiveness of your various approaches to generating and converting leads, prospects and locates.
Fortunately the Web is an ideal medium for publishing information, inviting responses and measuring how much interest is generated. Clear goals or key performance indicators should be established for all investment-attraction websites.
To help you know whether your goals are being achieved, you need 3 things:
- Historical stats and documented, defined goals,
- Access to detailed website visitor statistics,
- A statistics review and analysis schedule with a feedback mechanism.
The economic-development department should conduct regular reviews of online visitors and their behaviour patterns. These need to be tracked, documented and analyzed. Search terms and keywords, most visited pages, and most requested information are just some of the data (more…)
The economic recession is likely to cause many companies to cancel or delay decisions on business expansion and investment. Nevertheless they will remain on the lookout. When conditions improve they will remember those communities that have retained an attractive, optimistic and cooperative image through their communications.
So the need for economic development does not disappear during tough times, far from it. But cost-effective strategies and methods are required for getting the word out.
A traditional approach to investment attraction includes a heavy emphasis on publication advertising, direct mail, tele-prospecting and collateral mailing. This approach is costly, difficult to measure and time consuming to implement effectively. Today’s marketing strategies can take advantage of both tried and new Internet channels, using the Internet as a primary vehicle for image creation through the dissemination of facts, stories and anecdotes about a community – all with the intent of creating interest, thereby attracting people and businesses.
The Internet has become the number one tool for businesses and site selectors in their location search. It provides the ability to publish easily and frequently and at low cost. Announcements, events, blogs, online newsletters, business success stories, news and profiles will all help (more…)
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