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Economic Developers—You’ve Got Your Content Marketing Backwards

Economic Development content strategy

As we pointed out in our December story on Digital Lead Generation Trends in Economic Development, content marketing strategy in Economic Development has transformed into the ultimate chest-beating content. “We’re open for business!” “Oh yeah? We’re open for business MORE.” “Yes, well, we’re open for business BEST.”

Unfortunately, with 30,000 economic development and investment promotion organizations all saying the same thing, the message begins to ring hallow pretty fast. A quick look at the research (see “Talk the Talk”) and a consideration of your own content consumption habits will show that’s a backwards approach and a race to the bottom. Executives care about insights and expertise, not necessarily so much about the products themselves (i.e. cities, states and countries).

Adopting a Three-Phase Content Marketing Strategy

We would argue that promotion is one of three content types and should actually be saved for last, not first. Taking the basic three-phase decision process—awareness, consideration and decision—content should first start as useful, then move toward promotional as intangible evidence can set your community apart from the rest in the final stages. See the diagram below:

The 3 phases of content marketing strategy

Utilitarian content is information that is designed with the target persona in mind, aimed at building trust with your brand (not promoting it) through relevant, timely insights for a corporate decision maker. Actionable content is very similar, but should answer questions directly related to your community. It’s data-backed, independent and verifiable, and focused on what a prospect needs to move toward a decision. Think company lists, community comparisons and tailored workforce and demographic data. Finally, promotional content is anecdotal information like testimonials and case studies that the data cannot necessarily represent.

This is not a linear process, as there’s overlap between types of content and each stage. However, it’s a practice we’d like to see a lot more of, and one that we feel is more likely to propel the EDOs and IPAs who do it right in a much stronger position.

Written By

Steve Duncan

Steve Duncan is Vice President of DCI’s lead generation division. Since 2004, Steve has managed marketing programs for a diverse set of city, state and country organizations, from Albuquerque and Houston to Tuscany and Wyoming.

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