4 Key Components to Creating a Sophisticated Economic Development Marketing Strategy
15 Dec 2020
The strategy of simply creating a website and hoping new businesses will look at your community isn’t going to work by itself. You need a marketing plan to work along with it. A workforce attraction and business growth strategy need 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 measuring the marketing effectiveness.
Crafting a Workforce Attraction Strategy
The demand for skilled labor continues to burden communities and US employers. Manufacturing has been on the rise, but the manufacturing jobs have become more technical and precise. These workers are being trained and retrained and are becoming more available. However, the key is to find those workers.
The COVID pandemic has also left much of the workforce working remotely from wherever they’d like. Many people are moving out of metropolitan areas and into suburban and rural regions.
Your community workforce strategy needs to appeal to the workers you want to attract. This means building a successful online presence targeting those workers. People are constantly on their phones and actively participating in the social media sphere. They will click on links, but won’t stay engaged long - so grab their attention.
Get started by using our Workforce Attraction Toolkit as a guide.
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 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 - people can tell the difference.
Effectively Using Social Media
We all 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 professional. But it is more important to look at the adoption rates and usage and set aside comfort for a specific platform. We’ve noticed that Facebook, along with LinkedIn and Twitter seem to be the most effective platforms for economic development organizations.
According to the Pew Research Center Social Media Fact Sheet, social media adoption has risen from 5% of Americans in 2005 to 72% in 2019. We recommend looking at this more in-depth, but we noticed the trend that college graduates have a 51% adoption rate for LinkedIn and are by far the highest users of LinkedIn. So when you evaluate your workforce attraction, consider the education level and the social media platform they are using. It’s also interesting to note that urban and suburban users prefer using social media more than rural users.
Based on the adoption rates, target your message to the people you wish to attract. Find which social media platform they are using, and you will be ahead of the curve.
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If you are not tracking the success of your campaign and adapting the messages and implementation for better ROI, your online marketing efforts will stagnate. There are so many tools today that allow you to track your marketing effectiveness.
In Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, you should begin by looking at the number of likes, views, and shares your posts get. Which ones are getting the most traffic? Keep posting things like that? Are there any that hardly get any traffic at all? It’s probably time to stop posting around those topics because people clearly don’t have the interest. In each of these platforms, it is also easy to create a paid campaign and target visitors. The reporting you get from that is very insightful. Just don’t publish an ad and then forget about it.
Your website is also your best marketing tool. With website traffic software, you can measure all the traffic and identify visitors. This is simply a must-have in the world rosary. If your community is not evaluating the visitors on your site, 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?
Putting together a sophisticated marketing plan takes time, strategy, and execution. Of course, in order to put together a successful plan, community leaders need to dedicate the proper amount of time and effort. Remember - the most important step is executing the plan. A great marketing plan that is never executed will always fail.