Benchmarking for Tactical Success

Copying another Organization’s marketing plan is rarely an effective way to be successful, instead, you should get help from an experienced company like the Brisbane based SEO Agency. Every community faces a unique challenge in attracting, retaining and expanding capital investment. But, there is a lot to be learned from benchmarking the choices and experience of other economic development professionals.

We are facing a period of large budget gaps at virtually every level of government. This is going to place added pressure on raising private dollars and securing public grants to support community branding. It becomes even more important the choices you make on tactical investments are the best possible.

Here are two reports that provide insight into what seems to be working and not working in community branding. It is important to highlight that, while quantitative, the data are based on professional opinion rather than a controlled market test.

The first report is based on a national survey of U.S. based corporate executives. Development Counsellors International (DCI) conducted the study. You can download a copy of the study here: Survey Says: Corporate Decision Makers Define Best Practices in Economic Development Marketing PDF.

Some key conclusions are –

  • What others say about your community matters, so investing in an effective public relations effort helps the world better understand your community promise.
  • Your website is your best first Ambassador to the world. It is very important you invest sufficient resources to make a good first impression.
  • Site visits are an effective way of showcasing your community assets. Being able to physically see what it would be like to live and work in your community influences the final investment decision.

In this survey, executives did not rate traditional tactics like direct mail and advertising as particularly effective. However, my experience suggests this result should be carefully considered. Often, consumers (in this case CEOs) are not good at evaluating what communication tactics actually make a difference in shaping their opinion. For example, in the pharmaceutical industry doctors consistently would rate sales representative calls as having a low to know impact on prescribing choices in quantitative opinion based research studies. However, in-market, well-controlled heavy up call tests confirmed just the opposite.

The second report is based on a survey of Canadian economic development professionals. The same interpretive caveats regarding opinion based research as above apply.

The Economic Development Marketing in Canada 2010 Report (PDF) developed in partnership between the Economic Developers Association of Canada and On Three Communication Design Inc.

Some key conclusions are –

  • Websites are the #1 most used tactic for communication. You are not alone in focusing on electronic media. This tactic’s low cost and broad reach nature make it a natural choice for tight budgets.
  • Events are judged to be a highly effective tactical choice. Pressing the flesh and creating a human connection still are favored approaches to creating a lasting impression.
  • Newsletters and email are favorite communication tactics and seen as effective. It is important that you have quality content in order for these tactics to make an impact. Outside support is often helpful and a smart investment.

One thing I was a little surprised by in the Canadian study was the limited prevalence of social media despite a clear perception of effectiveness. I am personally looking forward to some case studies with hard performance data documenting lead generation from social media investment. In my opinion the jury is still out and the industry is still experimenting to determine the appropriate role for this media channel. Ensuring a sound strategy for your social media investment and adequately resources are two keys to success.

I hope the studies help you in your development of a marketing plan for your community, region or state. Knowing what others are doing provides helpful insight. But, use the knowledge as an aid to judgment. Make your own informed decisions.

What tactics are you finding most successful? What advice can you offer on the implementation of any of the popular tactics based on your own experience?

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3 Comments so far

  1. Jason

    November 11, 2010

    Great post. Thanks Ed.

    Like you, I look forward to seeing more EDAs utilizing and measuring the effectiveness of social media so that benchmarks can be established. Industry wide there’s still a focus on traditional marketing—and I would categorize a website as traditional for today’s marketing standards. Those brave enough put into action a Social Media Marketing Plan now will be ahead of the curve in the coming year and well-prepared for 2012.

    Regards,

    Jason Miller
    High Rock Studios
    http://www.highrockstudios.com
    ——————————————-

  2. Derek Pillie

    November 12, 2010

    Thanks for this write-up. This information was really helpful!

    I just wrote an item for our LEDO Suite site inspired by this article that explains why websites coupled with effective search engine optimization (SEO) still rate highly with economic development professionals and business executives compared with social media. Social medial optimization that produces measurable results in support of a particular goal (SEO, brand management, or engagement) has an important role to play in an overall marketing plan.

    Click http://bit.ly/9jttn0 to read more…

  3. Tyler Mattheis

    November 15, 2010

    I agree that SEO is extremely important – all I need to look at is the top referral sites on our website and google is by far the leader. Getting to the top of targeted searches should be a top priority for Ecdev organizations.

    Also interesting is that Business Retention is a distant second to Business Attraction as a top ranked marketing objective. This may be due to a number of reasons, but may be a wake up call for some (including me!) as well informed and engaged businesses already established in your community can multiply the efforts made to attract new businesses to your region.

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