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Defining a Creative Economy Target Audience

It’s all about people

Creative businesses and workers can be found in every sector of the economy. How, then, can they be identified and targeted for investment attraction? This presents a new and significant type of challenge to economic developers.

The first big mind-shift is that, contrary to past marketing efforts that were all focused on attracting businesses, economic developers now have to think about how to attract people. This requires a completely different marketing approach.

Marketing to the Creative Economy

Cutting across sectors and geographical lines, the creative economy is so broad that the audience cannot be easily defined. Marketing to this target audience requires clear definition of who is being marketed to and how this group can be reached.

General characteristics of people in the creative economy are widely recognized, because such people are being sought by communities all over the world. A recent report, Unveiling the Creative Economy in Arkansas, prepared by Regional Technologies Strategies Inc. on behalf of several public-sector organizations (, describes the creative-economy target audience:

“The types of people who typically work in today’s high-growth sectors are mobile and highly selective, and they look for places to live and work with amenities that satisfy their creative and recreational interests and urges — places with arts, culture, entertainment, green space, and, most importantly, high levels of tolerance. Communities that spruce up their downtown, celebrate their heritage, provide sufficient venues for culture and entertainment, and support diversity are more likely to attract and keep youth and talent.”

Within your own community, who among such creative people will be most attracted to your particular amenities and economic opportunities? Identification of the target creative audience must be narrower than economic developers are used to.

Defining a Creative Economy Target Audience

Sometimes the target audience can be occupation relevant, such as “lawyers” or “consultants” who may want to raise their families in a certain type of community and can work from anywhere with good broadband access. Sometimes lifestyle can be the deciding factor in a choice of community, for people such as “skiers” or “musicians” or “vintners.”

It’s extremely important to be fastidious in defining your creative economy target audience, as it’s easy to waste a lot of marketing dollars if the target audience is not clearly identified. Unusual, and certainly unfamiliar, marketing tactics may be required to reach this target audience.

Once the target audience has been clearly identified, the web provides the ideal channel for developing relationships, engaging and enthralling the creative class using interactivity, conversation, video and stories, ultimately enticing them to move their businesses and their families to your community.

Creative Economy Attraction Online

A modern investment attraction web strategy is designed in part to appeal to your creative economy target audience, as well as engaging them and communicating to them. Once again, reaching out to the target community and developing relationships is the central strategy.

For most economic developers creative economy attraction will represent one of many tactics for the attraction of business. Due to its unique focus, creative economy attraction requires different messaging, visuals and the communication of different information than standard site selection marketing. Consequently the marketing effort may need to be separated and offered through an independent portal, with unique advertising, messaging and promotional strategies that include a heavy emphasis on social media and interactive web.

For an outstanding example of this strategy in action, visit, the website of The Creative Economy Association of the North Shore (CEANS), a creative economy agency on the north shore of Massachusetts.

Among the many admirable features of this site, it inspires participation by people in the local creative economy who, by their blogs, tweets, news articles, calendar entries and job postings, help build a collective identity for the regions’ creative economy.

CEANS says that part of its mission is to bring enterprises and individuals together—online and in person—to foster creative collaboration and thus build economic prosperity. The same approach applied to your economic development web site, data gathering and communication activities can help to identify the creative talent most applicable to your community.

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