It is important to assess community civic capacity to create a vision, plan, effective leadership, and the partnerships that can help you implement an effective marketing program. Be inclusive when you are communicating with citizens of your community. Gaining their understanding and support of your marketing efforts is essential for your plan to move forward.
What do community members expect? Open and shared agendas, positive and visible contributions, participation, pride, trust and reliability.
Examples of communication strategies can include:
- Hosting community events as an opportunity to share your message
- Recruiting, training and mobilizing volunteers to assist in your marketing efforts
- Networking regularly with various members of your community
- Sharing local stories, make certain the people in the stories are comfortable with you sharing their information, particularly if they are referred to by name
- Including quotes or testimonials from satisfied businesses or other community members in brochures or newsletters is very powerful becuase it adds a human connection and can make issues easier to understand
- Submitting Op-Eds, which are opinion pieces submitted to newspapers by community members. They are usually located close to the editorial section and can also be effective.
A structured economic analysis of your community is needed for a community to realize it’s potential, strengths and weaknesses. Such an analysis is useful when examining the economic makeup of an area and how that area responds to internal and external forces. An economic analysis and strategic economic development plan provide the framework to address specific issues, i.e. target industries and employment dependencies on one or two businesses.
Understanding basic economic and demographic data is an important component of the process. The Bureau of Economic Analysis, www.bea.gov Bureau of the Census www.census.gov and the Bureau of Labor Statistics www.bls.gov are widely used sources of secondary economic data. In addition, the Idaho Department of Labor provides excellent workforce and population data at http://lmi.idaho.gov
There is also, demographic, consumer expenditure, business and workforce, and Geographic Information Systems data available on Gem State Prospector, www.gemstateprospector.com. Finally, you can find information available on our web site at http://commerce.idaho.gov/business/economic-indicators/.
Know your target audience and the criteria considered when making location decisions. See your product through the customer’s eyes from start to finish. The world is rapidly changing and what communities are doing to stay competitive is changing with it. Community leaders must be savvy of the needs of their target audience to even be considered in their decision process. The types of marketing activities that have worked in the past may no longer be effective. Develop and evaluate a marketing program in terms of the best Return on Investment for today’s market. Determining the needs of each industry you are targeting will require some research, but will be invaluable in achieving your marketing goals. What are their transportation and infrastructure needs? What kind of life style do they want for themselves and their employees? What incentives can you offer?
Area Development Magazine* conducts a corporate survey every year. Survey results showed the top ten rankings, by importance, for site selection are:
|Occupancy or Construction Costs
|State and Local Incentives
|Corporate Tax Rate
|Availability of Skilld Labor
|Inbound/Outbound Shipping Costs
|Energy Availability and Costs
While this is only one source of what site selection decision makers are looking for, it is consistent with what other surveys have found. Cost control is prevalent in the top ten ranked site selection factors. Tighter budgets and more choices with equal services and talent can lead to a situation where cost is the only metric decision makers can exercise control over.
For a full list of rankings and analysis of this survey, go to Area Development Magazine's 25th Annual Corporate Survey
. Area Development Magazine has conducted the survey for 25 years and reveals an interesting comparison of rankings and analysis over time.
Defining the community product(s) and the message you wish to convey will require an organized, innovative and cohesive group of local stakeholders who can mobilize available resources. Getting the right people together early on is extremely important.