Interview with Dave Capece – Branding, Digital Marketing and Business Development Expert
I have been reading the writings of Dave Capece and have been very impressed with how practical his perspective is on social media. Dave is an entrepreneur who aspires to pioneer the world of branding, digital marketing and business development. He authored a piece on social capital that I found very interesting. Dave is a fan of BIG challenges, so he and I connected to discuss the Strengthening Brand America Project. I took the opportunity to get his thinking on the use of social media in economic development. I think you will find Dave’s insights helpful as you think through the role of social media in your marketing mix.
- Question: Social media is a hot topic in economic development. It seems every community is experimenting with the media. What are the social media channels you would recommend be considered in a community branding effort?
Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and others dominate the social media discussion. Few organizations have enough resources to blanket all of social media. It comes down to prioritizing against your goals. If the goal is to attract businesses, then you want to communicate with a business audience and showcase what’s great about your community. Executives are going to look for a network of other leaders and will be impressed by local groups and meetups that demonstrate you have a vibrant business community. To share information about local initiatives, you can participate in LinkedIn Q&A, industry forums, and blog commenting. It’s important to develop a consistent presence to demonstrate commitment to community development. Twitter and Facebook can be used to highlight the successes in your community and to build awareness of the events and initiatives underway.
- Question: You wrote a fascinating post entitled "Top 5: Social Media Lessons from PodcampAZ". Thinking back to that program, what are some tips you might offer economic development professionals to consider for reapplication in promoting their community?
The community needs to develop a compelling story about why their location is special. Stories are written by journalists or in the form of blogs. And they come to life in the form of audio and video, which has become much easier to create. Have your community purchase an HD video camera (less than $200) and post highlights of your meetings as it relates to community development. Likewise, get footage at major events such as opening new stores or new parks. Organize all of this content in a way that is easy to find for your decision maker. By prioritizing these initiatives, you will show your audience that you are tech savvy, innovative, and passionate. Passion can go a long way.
- Question: In your blog post "The Impact of the Web on Sustainability", you talk about the potential power of using the web to connect "passionate change agents to actionable initiatives". How could economic development professionals leverage that idea to help catalyze positive change in their communities?
Every day, communities are mobilizing on issues of passion. There is an opportunity for organizations to integrate real-life and web initiatives. Take for example, American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. While the event happens in real-life in the streets, event organization depends in large part on the web. From sign-up to donations to community building and event tracking, the web plays a major role. Online, you have the power of one-to-one communication to help organize and connect people. Economic development professionals can leverage meetups or online communities such as idealist and causecast to build grass roots momentum. PBS reports that local politicians are increasingly using social media to rally the community, and economic development professionals can do the same.
- Question: How valuable is it to apply the principles of branding to managing America’s global image? Does it matter what people think about Brand America?
I believe that brand positioning is more important now than ever before. Why? Because yesterday only a few brand managers and advertisers had control of the brand. Today, influencers, partners, and customers are empowered to have more conversations about your brand than ever before. With more stakeholders, it is easy for the message to get jumbled. Accordingly, the brand platform needs to be aspirational and differentiated, but also very straightforward and simple. Local leaders should develop the brand platform and educate brand ambassadors so that the brand message can be amplified by many. In today’s environment, where word-of-mouth rules, all those little conversations add up.
- Question: Do you believe Brand America can effectively compete with Brand EU, Brand China and Brand India, or is global brand leadership unrecoverable?
While Brand America seems to have lost its luster, I don’t believe that another brand has emerged as dominant today. Brand EU continues as a strong player. Brand China appears to be surging, but they still have challenges to overcome. Brand India is working its way onto the national stage. As of 2010, Brand America is still significant. The key is to transform Brand America for a new generation of leadership. Leadership starts at the top with President Obama, extends to ambassadors in key roles across our nation, and ultimately our 300 million citizens are empowered to play a role. We need to define what makes America special and mobilize our brand to build momentum with our peers across the globe.