"Oh, I'm fine with a good enough marketing solution."Said no one, ever.
"Good enough" means you aren't cutting through the clutter. You aren't making sure your community stands out when site selectors and investors are looking for locations. Good enough satisfies no one but the most uninspired bureaucrats who just want to tick things off their to-do list and go home. That's not you.
There's a real cost to settling for sub-par place marketing. It seems easy on the surface because it is really only superficial; it doesn't offer the depth necessary to achieve the best results. For example, you may hire someone to design an attractive website for your location, write some decent (hopefully SEO-optimized) copy, and put up some eye-catching images. A great first step. But it can't end there. Here's a partial checklist of some of the things you will need to take it to the next level:
Keep that website fresh. Generating new content on an on-going basis is really important for SEO and engagement. Regularly updated blogs are the most obvious way to do this, but you can also post weekly or monthly e-newsletters, be sure to get press releases and news items up on your website, write up profiles of successful businesses, commercial realtors and other community stakeholders.
Provide the date site selectors and investors are seeking. One of your primary goals is likely to attract investment, right? If you were a business looking to locate in your community, would you be able to find the key data you need to make decisions right on your website? Could you look up reliable information about demographics and labor force? Could you map out existing businesses to search for suppliers, competitors or industry clusters? Could you compare critical information in different communities? Could you analyze drive time, consumer spending or other data points based on drive time, radius or custom polygon? This kind of up-to-date, interactive data needs to be on your website to ensure you are effectively open for business 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We know that 97% of site selectors are researching locations online, often before you ever know your community is in the running. If you aren't providing online data tools, and a location analysis application, you are losing leads without even knowing it.
Engage, engage, engage. Economic development organizations that aren't using social media to attract, inform and engage are turning their backs to opportunity. Fish where the fish are - we know business owners and site selectors use LinkedIn. Be sure that your EDO has a profile page (it's free!) and that your director and economic development professionals have current and updated personal profiles. Worried about content? Your online data tools provide a wealth of interesting tidbits, charts, maps and graphs to keep you posting daily. Post an available site of the day, or feature a business of the week. With a time commitment of less than 15 minutes a day, you can dramatically extend your reach online. Check out this webinar recording for some other top tips about using LinkedIn for economic development. Feeling even more ambitious? Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest each offer their own advantages for the creative place marketer.
Develop a plan. Slapdash marketing generates slapdash results. Start with a firm foundation, usually in the form of a clear, informative website with top quality data. Then develop a strategy to promote it that takes into account your resources and budgeting. Set goals for content generation, in whatever form it takes. I work with our ZoomProspector Enterprise clients to develop marketing plans, and I'm always impressed with their creative ideas and enthusiastic response.
Measure results. You don't need extensive training to look at your website's Google Analytics and determine how well your marketing is working at drawing and engaging online traffic. Check out this short video recording for a quick overview on how to do this. Even better, the detailed analytics that come with your ZoomProsector Enterprise tool can tell you what kinds of sites and properties are being searched online, what criteria are in demand, which properties are most popular.