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From the CEO's Desk: Four Key Components to Create a Sophisticated Economic Development Marketing Strategy

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

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By Aaron Brossoit

The U.S. economy continues to shrug off economic shackles and is potentially entering a new period of expansion. According to the Institute For Supply Management, in their April 2017 Manufacturing ISM Report on Business, “Economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in April, and the overall economy grew for the 95th consecutive month . . . “ Moreover, the report provides anecdotal accounts from manufacturing leaders that market confidence is increasing. Current conditions are signaling strong corporate investment and job creation. Is your community prepared?

The strategy of simply creating a website and hoping new businesses will look at your community isn’t going to work. A workforce attraction and business growth strategy needs to target  specific industry sectors. A solid strategy will have four key components:  workforce attraction strategy; narrative placemaking and successful story creation;  aggressive social media campaign; and a robust analytical approach to measure the marketing effectiveness.

1. Crafting a workforce attraction strategy

The demand for skilled labor continues to burden communities and U.S. employers. Manufacturing is on the rise, but the manufacturing jobs have become technical and precise. These workers are being trained and retrained and are becoming available; however, the key is finding the workers. 

Your community workforce strategy needs to appeal to these workers. This means building a successful online presence targeting these workers. These workers are on their phones and actively participating in the social media sphere; they will click on links and they won’t stay engaged very long so grab their attention.

2. Narrative placemaking and successful story creation

Stories have always appealed to people. Stories sell ideas and attract people to places. If you cannot look at your online presence and recite the narrative, you will need to rethink the story you are presenting to your audience.

Own your story and proudly boast of your community, the people and the opportunities. Too often communities try to imitate another community or miss some of the important aspects of their story. It is important to be authentic and genuine.

3. Effectively using social media

We all the know the statistics about the high percentage of mobile phone users. It is clear that social media has become an influential medium. What is not so clear is how to leverage social media. The best approach is a straightforward strategy consistently applied with a coordinated message.

Many communities are focusing on Facebook because the medium is comfortable for the economic development professionals. But it is more important to look at the adoption rates and usage and set aside comfort for a specific platform.  According the the Pew Research Center Social Media Fact Sheet social media adoption has risen from 5% of Americans in 2005 to 69% today.

This report reveals that U.S. adults use Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn as the main platforms. A couple of trends stand out. College graduates have a 49% adoption rate for LinkedIn and are by far the highest users of LinkedIn. So when you evaluate your workforce consider the education level and the social media platform they are using. It is  interesting to note that urban users prefer LinkedIn more than suburban users and lastly rural users.

Based on the adoption rates, target your messages to the people you wish to attract. Find which social media platform they are using and you will be ahead of the curve.

4. Tracking success

If you are not tracking the success of your campaign and adapting the messages and implementation for better return on investment, your online marketing efforts will stagnate. There are so many tools today to track marketing effectiveness.

In Facebook and LinkedIn, you should start by following the likes, views and shares. In both of these platforms, it is easy to create a paid campaign and target visitors. The reporting is insightful and easy. You should not just publish a post and forget about it.

Also, your website is still your best online marketing tool. With website traffic software, you can measure all the traffic and identify visitors. This is simply a must in the world today. If your community is not evaluating the visitors, you are missing out on entrepreneurs and business owners exploring options and communities. In today’s competitive economic development environment, even missing one or two interested prospects can be detrimental. Why take the chance of missing the next growth opportunity.

In conclusion, putting together a sophisticated marketing plan takes time, strategy and execution. And as with everything, in order to put together a successful plan, a community leaders need to dedicate the proper amount of time and effort. But by far, the most important step is consistently executing the plan. A great marketing plan that is never executed will always fail – every time!

Stay connected,



Golden Shovel Agency.

Category: Blog

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