News & Views

Why Place Marketing is More Important Now Than Ever

Amid a global health crisis, it is understandable that economic development organizations are struggling with what to do with their marketing programs. No one wants to appear tone deaf or opportunistic. No one wants to spend shrinking resources unwisely.

But the fact is that decisions about where to locate or expand facilities are months, if not years, in the making; and our early intelligence suggests that the site selection process is proceeding at many companies, albeit perhaps with an extended timeline.

So rather than hit the pause button on your marketing, consider pivoting to build awareness and trust so your community will be well-positioned when the economy starts to recover. Here are six solutions to consider:

Be Data Driven: When was the last time you did an honest assessment of perceptions (and misperceptions) of your community? What does your target audience know and not know that they should? With so many executives working remotely and no longer traveling, the odds are they might have time to respond to an online perception survey that can help fine-tune your marketing strategy.

Create Compelling Content: Interesting, creative content has always been important, but now it’s especially critical to cut through the clutter in your digital marketing. Now is NOT the time to play it safe with platitudes that sound like everyone else or it will be a snooze fest. Make sure your content is clever and visually arresting with a clear call to action.

Get Human: With Zoom and other videoconferencing tools exploding, it’s clear that people are craving human interaction. Look for ways to leverage visual content on platforms like YouTube and Facebook Live. Consider virtual site tours and leverage iconic photography to bring your location to life.

Be a Connector: People need to be connected to jobs, resources, and solutions now more than ever and place marketers are that vital connection. How localities step up to the plate to navigate this crisis, support existing businesses and the local workforce and stay true to their brand will have a long-lasting impact on how the community is perceived both at home and beyond its borders.

Lay into Digital: To ratchet up awareness, now is the time to invest in search engine marketing, email programs and paid social programs. Get your digital ducks in a row and take a ready-set-go approach when the time is right because when the economy does start to rebound, competition is going to be fiercer than ever.

Harness the Power of Positive Press: Although the news cycle continues to be consumed by the crisis, signs are beginning to emerge that people are craving “good news” stories. It is important to showcase the success stories out of communities large and small. It is a time to band together, to demonstrate what your industries are doing to aide in the COVID-19 response; it is a time to work together and to help your stakeholders wade through this pandemic.

The marketing decisions and actions taken today by economic development organizations will have a lasting impact on economies and communities for years to come.

Written By

Dariel Curren

Dariel is the Executive Vice President at Development Counsellors International and directs the Economic Development Division. Since joining DCI in 1995, she has worked for clients spanning the globe, including destinations from Maine to Miami and from New York to New Zealand.

More Articles by Dariel Curren

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