What is Strategic Marketing & How Does It Fit Into Economic Development?
15 May 2023
In today’s ever-changing market, economic development is crucial for regions to grow and thrive. Economic development is promoting a region's economic well-being by creating jobs, generating revenue, and fostering a positive business environment. However, economic development success often depends on an organization’s ability to create and execute an effective strategic marketing plan.
What is Strategic Marketing?
Strategic marketing is creating a comprehensive plan that aligns with an organization’s overall strategy to achieve specific objectives. It involves:
- Identifying the target audience & understanding the competition.
- Developing a unique value proposition (UVP).
- Creating a marketing mix that effectively communicates your message.
This long-term process requires a deep understanding of the market and the organization’s goals.
How Does Strategic Marketing Fit Into Economic Development?
A successful marketing strategy for economic development attracts new businesses and talent and retains existing ones. Strategic marketing plans promote the unique advantages of a region and attract investment, talent, and tourism. By creating and executing an effective strategic marketing plan, economic developers can achieve their economic development goals and drive regional growth.
Identifying Your Target Audience & Understanding the Competition
Identifying the target audience is the first step in the marketing process. The target audience is the individuals or businesses most likely to be interested in your community. The target audience may include business owners, entrepreneurs, investors, tourists, or talent.
It is also important to consider your community's industries and available land/buildings. For example, if your city has a heavy focus on manufacturing, it is critical to communicate with the decision-makers working in the manufacturing industry. Similarly, if you have industrial parks specifically supporting aerospace, target the movers and shakers in the aerospace industry. After identifying the audience, you must understand the tactics used by other communities.
Economic developers need to understand what their region’s competitors offer and how they promote themselves. By analyzing the competition, you can identify gaps in the market and develop a unique value proposition differentiating your region from the competition.
Developing a Unique Value Proposition
The UVP is a critical component of a strategic marketing plan. It is the promise the organization makes to its target audience, and it should communicate the benefits they will receive by choosing this community over others. For economic developers, the UVP may include the region’s quality of life, business-friendly environment, access to talent, and infrastructure.
Developing a UVP in marketing requires a deep understanding of the target audience, their needs, and the competitive landscape. Here are some steps you can take to develop a UVP:
- Determine your ideal audience and their demographics. This will help you craft a message that resonates with them.
- Create a keyword strategy. Determine the keywords and phrases that your target audience is searching for when looking for information related to your community or target industry.
- Identify the needs and pain points of your audience through research. This aids in determining the benefits and solutions your community can offer.
- Research your competition. Analyze your competitors and their offerings to determine what makes their community unique. Look for gaps in the market and areas where you can differentiate yourself.
- Determine your unique value. Based on your research, determine how your community stands out. What benefits do you offer that no one else does?
- Craft your UVP. Once you have identified your unique value, craft your UVP statement. It should be clear, concise, and communicate the benefits you offer to your target audience. Make sure it's easy to understand and memorable.
- Test your UVP. Test your UVP on your target audience and community stakeholders to see how they respond. Ask for feedback and make adjustments as needed.
- Incorporate your UVP into your marketing strategy. Once you have a UVP that resonates with your ideal audience, incorporate it into your marketing strategy. Use it in your messaging, branding, and content to differentiate yourself from the competition and attract people who value what you offer.
When crafting your UVP, consider the following questions.
- What should our community be known for (list five)?
- The spirit of our community can be described in the following way.
- What unique community initiatives are planned for this year?
- What five words best describe our community?
- How do people talk about our community? What specific words or phrases do they use?
Crafting & Executing a Strategic Marketing Plan
To achieve success, economic developers must effectively execute their plans, measure the effectiveness of their marketing efforts, and adjust their approach as needed to ensure the desired results are achieved.
- Determine your marketing mix. Decide which marketing channels (such as advertising, PR, social media, email marketing, etc.) will most effectively reach your target audience and achieve your goals.
- Create a budget. Allocate resources to each of your marketing channels and tactics. Be sure to consider both the cost of creating and executing the marketing plan and the potential return on investment.
- Develop a timeline. Create a timeline for executing your marketing plan. Assign specific tasks and deadlines to team members responsible for each tactic.
- Implement the plan. Begin running your marketing tactics according to your timeline.
- Measure and analyze results. Continuously monitor your marketing efforts and analyze your results. Use data to identify what’s working and what’s not, and adjust your plan accordingly. You may find opportunities to improve your tactics and achieve better results.
Executing a strategic marketing plan requires careful planning, effective communication, and a willingness to adapt based on results. By following these steps and regularly evaluating your efforts, you can achieve your marketing goals and drive business growth.
SMART goals are a popular framework for setting and achieving goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
- Specific: Be clear and specific about the results. Instead of setting a vague goal like "post more content," set a specific goal like “post relevant community events every week for ten weeks."
- Measurable: Ensure your goal is measurable. This means setting criteria for success, such as tracking your social media interactions and increasing economic development conversations.
- Achievable: Set goals that are realistic and achievable. Don't set yourself up for failure by setting an unrealistic goal. Instead, ensure your goals can realistically be accomplished with your current resources and abilities.
- Relevant: Make your goals relevant to your larger objectives and values. Ask yourself if the goal will help you achieve something meaningful.
- Time-bound: Set a deadline for your goal. Stay focused and motivated. For example, set a deadline of three months to aggressively promote your community on Facebook and gain 100 new followers.
Using SMART goals will make your goals clear, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound, setting you up for success.
Top Reasons Strategic Marketing Plans Fail
There are several reasons why strategic marketing plans can fail, which are important to recognize so you can avoid this happening.
#1 Poor planning
Successful strategic marketing requires a well-defined plan with clear objectives, target audience, and tactics. If an EDO fails to plan correctly, it can result in inadequate or ineffective marketing efforts.
#2 Not understanding your target audience
An EDO’s marketing strategy depends on how well it understands its audience. Failure to understand can lead to marketing campaigns that are irrelevant, uninteresting, or unappealing.
#3 Insufficient resources
Implementing a strategic marketing plan can be costly, and a lack of resources can result in an inability to execute the plan effectively. This can include lacking financial resources, human resources, or time.
#4 Poor execution
Even the best marketing plan can fail if the execution is poor. Poor execution can result from a lack of attention to detail, ineffective communication, or insufficient training and support.
#5 Inability to adapt
The marketplace is constantly changing, and a successful marketing strategy requires adapting to these changes. Failure to adapt can result in a marketing strategy that is no longer effective or relevant.
#6 Lack of differentiation
In today's highly competitive market, it's crucial for companies to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Failure to differentiate can make it difficult to attract and retain businesses and workforce.
Overall, strategic marketing can fail for various reasons, and it's essential for companies to regularly evaluate their marketing efforts and make necessary adjustments to ensure success.
Where to Start - Involving a Creative Partner
When our team at Golden Shovel Agency starts a strategic marketing plan with a client, there is always an initial conversation about the final report. Economic developers are planners trained to produce goals, schedules, and plans for future development.
We have found that strategic planning produces as much inner growth as it produces documents and plans. The planning process will give you an intimate understanding of your community and its potential. You will find clarity and calmness about how to proceed. Contact Golden Shovel to learn more about marketing strategies.