Marketing Strategy Economic Development

Use Inbound Marketing to Strengthen Economic & Community Development

By Jen Neumann on June, 12 2017
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"If you build it, they will come."

Other than a baseball field in Iowa, that statement really isn't true. You can create the perfect environment for your community or region to grow and expand new and existing business, but if you don't actively market it - in ways that cut through the clamor of all the other competing sites/cities/states, then you are leaving a lot to chance. 

Create a Strategy

Like a business, it's important to understand who and what is a good fit for what you are trying to sell. If you are trying to attract business to an available area of land - identify what types of prospects are best for the available space. Obviously a retail center or clinic isn't going to be a good fit for an industrial park, and conversely, a manufacturer isn't going to go into (most) vacant strip malls. 

Understand who it is that you are trying to reach - and get laser focused on those industries first. Understand how your offering can be a solution for the right company - and don't try to force a fit. Discover what their pain points are and choose the sectors/industries/contacts that your offering helps to solve their problem. Learn what you can about the personas of site selectors and decision makers in the process. Understand how they make their decision and what it is that makes the deal happen for their market.

Be Where the Prospects Are

(We don't mean trade shows)

Sure a trade show can garner some names and maybe a few prospects, and perhaps you can provide an experience that makes them more likely to remember you. You'll find more value in taking the pain points identified in the strategy and dig deeper to find where they look for those solutions and (literally) be in that space. Whether that is digital, print or actual physical locations, that is where you should spend your resources. Industry associations and economic development groups are a good place to start, but invest the money in research to winnow those lists further. Think about where and from whom (influencers) they get their information. In some cases, those influencers may be consultants, in other cases, they may be industry leaders. 

A smaller list of prospects that is researched and to the degree possible, qualified, is your strongest asset. Work to insert yourself and your mission into their networks, and vice versa.

Build Your (Content) War Chest

In your strategy, you've identified what the pain points of your most likely prospects are, now build the content that meets their needs. Drone footage of a location, downloadable spec sheets on a site or building, news releases/posts on certifications or success stories - all of these items help your prospects find them. But it also gives you a strong content library to place this material where your target prospects are seeking solutions. 

This should be a complete, end to end library of content, that can be connected and constantly used and re-purposed into different channels and customized for each prospect. 

Go into Campaign Mode

You have a strategy, a target market, an inbound marketing plan for placement of compelling content, now implement it. Build and deploy the campaigns that get your content in front of your target prospects and be "in their space" as much as possible. 

Marketing in economic & community development, although still driven to a great degree by network, is a perfect fit for inbound marketing. There is no more of a considered transaction than selecting a site or community for business expansion and growth. And prospects will do a great deal of research online before ever making themselves visible to you. An inbound campaign not only draws in and nurtures these leads, but coupling it with a software service like Hubspot helps identify and move each prospect through the sales cycle - from curiosity to close. 

If this were a business to business campaign you would create a landing page for your project, with calls to action, a contact form, potential gated content and a case statement for your location. There would be video, and an email campaign, possibly advertising on digital platforms, or on targeted publications and podcasts. You would work to be everywhere that your potential clients may be, virtually and physically.

Using Hubspot in your campaign gives you insight into who is viewing your site, what company they are with, their location and general company data - and allows you to research and connect the dots to discover whether they are a good fit and worth pursuing. The software allows you to track and nurture them through the sales cycle, and determine when the best time to make contact is. 

Too often, we think of this type of work as something that is done through a carefully cultivated network, through a consultant or by taking out ads in industry publications and leaving it at that. You built it, they will come. It will happen when the right company comes along. But with the intensely competitive nature of the industry, being proactive, smart and technologically advanced are the keys to success. 

It Still Takes a Human to Close the Deal

Economic Development Marketing will never be an style transaction. But it has changed from the old network of "who you know" (which is still important) and consultants, to "what you know." Large companies and organizations are starting the search process internally before they ever reach out to a consultant. It's important to be there - and be found - when they look for their solution. But in the end, it will still take a person to person connection, and all the relationship building and salesmanship your team can bring to make the deal happen. 

How can your organization build a strategy, message and campaign to attract and nurture the right companies and organizations to your region or community? Let's have a conversation. 

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