02 Jul 2015

Economic development marketing hacks you need to know

Alissa Sklar is the director of marketing for GIS Planning. She has extensive experience as a consultant, writer and educator in the fields of technology and communications. Dr. Sklar has a Ph.D. in Communications from the University of Massachusetts of Amherst, and has as worked closely with B2Bs and economic development agencies to assess, develop and implement social media strategies for business development.

When it comes to place marketing, economic development professionals have a pretty strong idea of the essential components: a clear, informative website, a fully-featured GIS location analysis tool and a robust social media presence. However, even the best marketers need to revisit their strategies from time to time to ensure they are on track. Here are 5 economic development hacks for a mid-year jumpstart to your place marketing engine:

place marketing key tips

-1- Play "mystery site selector" on your own website. Visit your own website with fresh eyes, or line up a couple of friendly outsiders to try some goal-oriented scavenger hunts on your site. This is something I often do with clients redesigning or relaunching new websites, but it's a worthwhile exercise for any EDO at any point. Is your home page engaging, clear and informative? Can they figure out how to search for available properties? Can they map out a specific industry cluster, or get detailed labor force information? Do the About Us or Contact Us fields provide specific faces, names and contact information along with a general information email and central phone number?

-2- Plan evergreen content and campaigns. Most economic development organizations I know depend on employees to multitask and develop competencies across a range of skills. If you find that marketing and beefing up your social media presence are part of your other tasks, learn how to leverage the same content in a wide variety of formats. This is the "reduce, reuse & recycle" concept of marketing. A blog post can become a SlideShare post, a webinar recording can go on YouTube, marketing email content can work well on Linkedin, etc. Images of any kind work well on social media, and all posts that link back to your website can help drive traffic. Rely less on "one and done" campaigns, and consider re-promoting strong content in different ways. You may be bored of the message, but it's likely to be new for most prospects.

Economic development infographics

-3- Take advantage of your online data tools. Smart, dynamic and interactive data tools are a constant source of new, up-to-date content. Your Community Profile Infographics can be reposted in countless ways as snapshot images (such as the one above). A Smart Mapping tool can showcase an important industry cluster (which can become a blog post, an e-newsletter piece, or become the basis for an email marketing campaign). A tool that lets you compare communities provides instant data about the relative merits of cities and counties, which can be written up in a variety of ways or posted as is on social feeds. Business search and mapping tools give detailed information on segments and individual businesses. And there is a wealth of content waiting to be written up or shared on social with a detailed smart Demographic tool

-4- Steal ideas from other departments or industries. No need to reinvent the wheel. Some excellent marketing ideas may already be in place in your local tourism department or chamber of commerce. You may be able to mine tactics from successful local businesses, despite wide differences in your "produce." Take advantage of the summer weather to walk out of your office and meet with others in your community for some brainstorming. At very least it can create some interesting new strategic relationships. 

Buzzsumo viral content

-5- Brainstorm based on ideas that have gone viral. What has caught people's attention and generated interest when so much else passes unnoticed? Track viral content in different industries with Buzzsumo. Enter the industry or specific content, and then track shares on top social sites to gauge what is getting people's attention. Top tips: positive news, great accompany images and strong emotional value tend to boost share-ability. 

viral economic development content search

Want to know more about our Intelligence Components and other great place marketing strategies for economic developers? Contact us today to learn more.


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