How to Develop A Marketing Plan For Economic Development

Feb 07, 2020

Throughout our years in marketing and communications, we’ve helped several municipalities and government bodies developed strategies to achieve and maintain a healthy economy and drive new growth. They’ve helped us learn what works, what doesn’t, and what drives success.

1. Define your goals.

With economic development, people often say they want “to bring in business and revenue into the area.” However, it’s important to identify specific goals for the particular needs of your area.

This includes knowing the type of businesses you want to attract, and which will thrive in your location. Beyond industry, size also matters. Whether you’re looking at large, medium, or small businesses, your area needs to be sustainable for these prospects.

In our process, we’ll consider your current infrastructure, geographic location, and resources. Are you trying to develop a downtown area, or increase traffic to specific geography? Through a collaborative effort with key stakeholders, we’ll discuss your goals and determine the development you want to generate.

2. Establish your positioning.

No matter what you’re trying to accomplish, every municipality or government body has a unique position. The sooner you know what it is, the sooner you will find success by crafting the right strategies for your marketing and branding.

Understand your brand and what it offers. First, define your demographic. Who will succeed in your area? Do you have the needed infrastructure? For example, some areas have a great industrial area with access to railroads, ports or highways. Others have great retail space downtown where shops and restaurants can thrive. Today’s trend might be to try attracting large tech companies, but you need to know what works for your region.

Consider performing a SWOT analysis with your economic development team. Review your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The results will help you develop a strong results-focused strategy. You will be able to look at your town from a new perspective, considering its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to its success.

3. Refine your messaging.

Develop and sharpen your mission statement, tagline, verbiage and branding strategy so that your marketing is clear, concise and complimentary of your positioning.

Break down your marketing message into clearly defined “buckets.” Three or four will do, and the clarity they provide is priceless. They should encapsulate the most important aspects of your area’s brand.

Finally, be both “disruptive” and “descriptive.” Your disruptive message stops people in their tracks and makes them realize your area provides a benefit they hadn’t thought of. Disruptive messages can be ads, social media posts, billboards, radio spots or banner ads. Use your descriptive message for brochures, sales presentations, blogs, website copy and other long-form content. The descriptive will dive much deeper into what you offer.

4. Strategize your visualization.

It’s important to understand how your “look” will translate on all media and be perceived by your audience. An effective agency partner will make sure visual choices for messaging and positioning work in harmony.

Develop an effective visual side for your area by adding a bit of personality. It might play into your area’s culture, region or pre-existing perception. New York City’s designer Milton Glaser tapped into the city’s local pride and created the famous “I Love New York” logo, becoming a memorable icon in the process. Whether you’re trying to market a metropolis or a growing region that’s still trying to identify itself, branding is everything.

5. Remember your department’s worth.

At this point, we’ve defined goals and established your positioning, messaging and visualization. So what’s next? Don’t forget about your department!

Remember, you’re not only marketing your area, but also your economic development department and services. Explain exactly what you do and how you help businesses thrive. Offer your services as a valuable resource for locals and incoming businesses. Own the position of being your area’s expert.

Let’s Talk

You love your town, and you want it to thrive. We understand your challenges and can be your partner on the pathway to success.

For more information, contact Able Ambassador Reynee Tung at