Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Committee wants you to help brand Helena

What should Helena be known for?

That’s what a committee wants to know, as the community moves forward with finding a unique brand for the city to draw more visitors here.

“We’re sort of on the full-court press of gathering public opinion,” said Matthew Cohn, current chair of the Advantage Helena committee tasked with rounding up people’s thoughts as part of the ongoing branding process.

“We want the public buy-in; we really do want their ideas.”

Working with Destination Development, a Washington state firm, Advantage Helena is collecting people’s thoughts on Helena’s identity and how we choose to show ourselves to the rest of the world.

“Really, the brand is about finding our identity,” said Jim McHugh, director of Downtown Helena, Inc.

City Commissioner Alan Peura, a member of the committee, said he believes the group has overcome the early perception that the branding effort is strictly for the benefit of downtown.

Read more here.

Howard County jobs campaign to target locals

Work in the county, closer to home -- that's the message Howard County's economic development department will try to convey with a new marketing campaign targeting its residents.

The Howard Jobs campaign, with a Web site and radio commercials, is slated to begin Sept. 4. The Howard County Economic Development Authority wants to reach the more than 95,000 residents who work outside the county.

Richard Story, the CEO of the Howard County Economic Development Authority, said in a statement the effort will help local businesses along with residents, who would benefit from reduced drive time and gas costs.

County officials did not disclose the cost of the marketing campaign. Read more here.

No image is no hindrance for Overland Park


Even to government, a hundred grand isn’t peanuts. That many tax dollars would fix plenty of potholes. Or buy several tanks of gas for the police and fire departments.

However, the city of Overland Park is spending up to $110,000 to buy something a little more esoteric.

An image.

Now, to some, that might suggest the image of a community so well off it can easily blow 110 thou on what amounts to fluff.

Then again, OP wouldn’t be the first city, county or state to buy into the branding trend since “I Love New York” started it all in the 1970s.

Simply put: Your burg is Nowheresville if you don’t have a logo, slogan and marketing campaign. And getting those normally means hiring a consultant who does surveys and hires focus groups.
OP is way behind the pack on this sort of thing.

“This city has never done any kind of branding,” Overland Park spokesman Sean Reilly told me.

True, and the results are all too apparent.

Without branding, OP grew from a sleepy bedroom suburb to the most populous city in Johnson County and the second largest in Kansas. Read more here.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Public Relations — Are you missing out?

When business owners think of marketing their products or services, it ’s easy to think of only traditional advertising and marketing. They fall into the trap of not looking at the whole picture and forget about other important avenues. While advertising and marketing can be effective, the driving force in today’s business communication is identifying, planning and implementing a high-quality public relations program.

Effective public relations is more than just getting ink. It gains favorable attention and conveys a consistent and newsworthy message to the intended audience. When presented as news, the message gains credibility that makes it more effective. An integrated marketing approach that combines advertising with media relations efforts will be much more effective in keeping your brand top of mind.

Public relations can take a variety of avenues, including news releases, newsletters, annual reports, media kits, press tours, feature stories, special events and presentation materials. Public relations needs will vary by company, but they should always be used in conjunction with a coordinated strategic approach. Read more here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Partnership aims to draw employers to St. Cloud area

St. Cloud did not make Arctic Cat's original list of possible expansion sites.

But when Thief River Falls-based snowmobile and ATV manufacturer learned about the area's well-educated work force, access to major suppliers and reduced-tax JOBZ program, it took a serious look.

CEO Chris Twomey did his research and spoke with local businesspeople before securing the company a spot on Opportunity Drive in 2005.

Landing a spot on lists like Arctic Cat's is not easy. But the St. Cloud Area Economic Development Partnership is going further than it ever has to promote the area and bring new businesses to Central Minnesota as more employers recognize the possibilities of the dual-highway corridor between St. Cloud and the Twin Cities.

The communities touching Interstate Highway 94 and U.S. Highway 10 are expected to almost double in population by 2030, even by conservative estimates. Corridor counties and others on the northwestern corner of the Twin Cities are among the top 100 nationwide for rapid growth.

The Partnership embarked this spring on its largest marketing effort in its 22-year history.
The latest marketing materials complement The Partnership's ongoing visits with site selectors and prospective businesses, exposure at trade conventions and newsletters.

The campaign's series of four postcards encouraged 1,000 businesses and site selectors to make St. Cloud and Central Minnesota a destination. The cards highlighted the area's "abundance of highly skilled labor," "expanding infrastructure" and "ideal location."

They led up to a June event that brought 25 site selectors and 15 business leaders to the IDS Center in downtown Minneapolis to learn about the area's latest developments. The Partnership unveiled a new marketing brochure. Read more here.

Fort Collins brand unveiled

Board and staff members of the Fort Collins Downtown Development Authority this morning were among the first to view the new brand that the city paid a Tennessee-based marketing company $80,000 to craft.

"Fort Collins: Where renewal is a way of life" is the tagline that North Star Destination Strategies of Nashville drafted to brand the city.

Chief city spokeswoman Kelly DiMartino, in a brief presentation at the DDA's monthly meeting, outlined how North Star examined the city's broad traits to focus on a core identity, an "authentic Colorado college town in the foothills of the Rockies," and how its paradoxical qualities could be best exploited.

"They found that Fort Collins was 'green' but also business-friendly," DiMartino said. "They said we were high-energy, but laid back."

North Star last year did a similar branding job for Greeley, under a $76,000 contract that led to the tagline "Greeley: Great from the ground up."

North Star also created a logo, mock-ups of print advertisements and a Web site design all wrapped around the new Fort Collins brand. The logo features the tagline over curling lines suggestive of a river or a foothill skyline. Read more here.

No. 1 Wired City seeks best plan to attract capital

America’s No. 1 Wired City once captured the fancies of journalists around the globe looking for places with a fresh story to tell. Tacoma’s story got told and retold more than 200 times. Not anymore.

The world went wireless. Today, America’s No. 1 Wired City finds itself obsolete technologically, irrelevant to journalists and relegated to a past chapter in the Tacoma saga.

So, this spring, the City of Tacoma made a public plea for expert help with an ambitious goal – instigate a new surge of local and national media coverage that persuades developers, business owners and commercial real estate investors to pour private capital investments into Tacoma.

Four companies – two from Tacoma, two from Seattle – say they can do it and want the contract to identify Tacoma’s next story and share it with the world

However, don’t expect a new brand slogan and logo from this venture, said Ryan Petty, director of the city’s Community and Economic Development Department.

“The time will come again when it makes sense to create some kind of a (new) catchphrase,” Petty said. “This assignment is about helping us increase the flow of private capital into town.”

Later this month, leaders from all four companies looking for that assignment will give their best in-person pitches to City Hall evaluators who will pick the powerhouse public relations team best able to sell Tacoma. Read more here.

'Memphis Delivers' Touts Web Site, Newspaper Ads

In an effort to attract the attention of some outside corporations and bigwigs, the Memphis Regional Chamber has launched a Web site to showcase all Memphis has to offer any business considering a move to the city.

The site,, offers a wealth of information, from demographics to workforce data to the core industries that make up the Memphis market.

In conjunction with the launch of the site, the chamber also has kicked off an advertising campaign that began with banner ads along the bottom of online publications such as, the online version of The Dallas Morning News. The advertisements direct viewers to the Memphis Delivers site.

Mark Herbison, senior vice president of economic development for the chamber, said the organization plans to introduce the campaign into cities other than Dallas before the year is over.
"We're also going into San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York," Herbison said. "And all of those cities we're doing between now and the end of the year."

The advertisements probably will be introduced into a new market about every 30 to 45 days, Herbison added.

Besides the banner ads, the campaign also will include sending direct mail materials to targeted companies and business consultants who might be scouting new markets for the companies they represent.

"We're trying to promote Memphis to (these consultants and the decision makers in the companies)," Herbison said. "We look at fast-growing companies and things of that nature. And we just try to stay top of mind, so if they get ready to expand they at least give us a consideration." Read more here.

Memphis shifting into Fast Forward strategy

Beginning this week business and civic leaders will roll out an ambitious economic growth strategy that has been nearly two years in the making.

After working behind the scenes on the plan for the past 18 months, public officials and business leaders this week will unveil Memphis Fast Forward, an economic growth plan that focuses on crime, education and workforce development, government efficiency and economic development.

Supporters -- including the city and county mayors and heads of the city's most powerful companies -- say the four-part initiative could generate thousands of new jobs, slash crime rates and raise educational standards.

"It's really a plan for the future of the city of Memphis," Gary Shorb, president and CEO of Methodist Healthcare, told The Commercial Appeal editorial board Monday. "It is, in my opinion, the best thing we've put together in 25 years in this community."

Shorb will speak about the Memphis Fast Forward effort Wednesday during a Leadership Academy event at Bridges Downtown. Read more here.

City looks at branding plan

Green River may soon have a distinct brand and plan to promote its tourism.

During the Green River City Council meeting Monday evening, Council gave Pat Robbins, Sweetwater Economic Development Association executive director, permission to pursue grants to pay for the brand and plan.

“It's not a study; it's an action plan,” Robbins said.

Robbins said Destination Development will come up with a plan and a brand for the city. It will cost $70,000, however, Robbins is asking for a $25,000 grant from the Wyoming Business Council's Community Development Block Grant and $10,000 from the Joint Travel and Tourism Board.

The Council will need to raise the other $35,000.

What the community must remember, is the plan is designed to attract tourists, Robbins said. Some plans include marketing, logos, signs and design. The downtown areas will be marketed.

The city should have the tourist shops on the main streets, Uinta Drive and Flaming Gorge Way, she said.

“We want to make it as easy to spend money as possible,” Robbins said.

All Councilman agreed to pursue obtaining the grants.

Councilman Angelo Kallas said he would like this project done even if the city doesn't obtain the grants.

Aligning Regional Marketing Resources in AL

'A lot of questions to be answered' as to economic development

With the announcement of the ThyssenKrupp steel mill at Calvert, the Clarke County development office is already seeing activity. "We (Clarke County) were already an area of interest," said Debra Bolen, Executive Director of the Clarke County Economic Development Partnership.

"We are already growing. It has just increased the interest." That is thanks to the efforts that have taken place by county and city officials over the last several years, she said. TK makes the county even more attractive.

The Clarke County Commission is asking board members of the Twin Rivers Economic Development Partnership and mayors in the county to appear at the Aug. 13 work session to discuss the relationship between Twin Rivers and county development agencies.

Twin Rivers was created in 2006 to promote the regional development interests of Clarke and Choctaw Counties. The agency has since joined with the Coastal Gateway Regional Economic Development Authority to market a five-county region, including Choctaw, Clarke, Escambia, Monroe and Conecuh. Wiley Blankenship, President/CEO of Coastal Gateway is serving as the economic developer for the combined effort.

In addition, Sullivan-St. Clair Advertising of Mobile was hired by Clarke County to create a marketing plan for the county.

Where does Clarke County's development office fit into this new regional approach? "There are a lot of questions out there to be answered," Bolen said. "…There's no doubt…that we need to be looking at economic development and the way that we market our area from a regional perspective. Read more here.

MDA director: Automotive and aerospace industries key to international competition

STARKVILLE - Raising salaries through better-paying jobs from aerospace and automobile-related industries is what will move this state from its at-times backwater standing on the national and international economic stage to a more front-runner status, said Mississippi's leading economic developer.

“Those two, around the world say, your people are skilled and you're able to compete,” said Mississippi Development Authority Director Gray Swoope, as he touted the region's newest economic development game pieces in the automotive and aerospace industries, notably, PACCAR and companies like American Eurocopter, Aurora Flight Sciences, and the research and development work of General Electric.“

And I'll tell you, we can compete, and we are,” added Swoope, speaking Monday to the Starkville Rotary Club in what amounted to a pep talk and solid pat on the back to the economic development movers and shakers in the Golden Triangle.

“Economic development is a team sport, and I'll tell you, our legislative team is on board,” the West Point native told the Rotarians.Increasing disposable income with higher-paying jobs must be a major part of the state's economic development strategy, say officials.

“If we're going to move this state forward, we've got to increase the disposable income,” said Swoope. Read more here.

Indy-based group tours Anderson

Anderson has a lot to offer.

That’s the message Mayor Kevin Smith and other Anderson leaders wanted to communicate to two representatives from an Indianapolis-based economic development group who visited Anderson on Monday morning.

Carol D’Amico, president and CEO of Conexus Indiana, and Lisa Laughner, executive vice president of Conexus, toured several businesses Monday to get an idea of Anderson’s needs, goals and strengths from an economic development standpoint.

Conexus Indiana, a new part of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, is a group that works on economic development for communities in the state. Specifically, the group focuses on advanced manufacturing and logistics. The Central Indiana Corporate Partnership has four components: Conexus; Bio-Crossroads, which focuses on life sciences; TechPoint, which focuses on information technology; and Indy Partnership, which does work in advancement and economic development. Read more here.

'Everywhere's possible' is new slogan for SeaTac

"Everywhere's possible."

That's the new branding slogan adopted by the city of SeaTac to attract businesses and developers to the city.

Staffers at HadleyGreenCreates, a marketing firm that has been working with the city for six months, presented the brand Aug. 6 to SeaTac council members.

They said it is meant to convey that the city offers businesses, residents and visitors access to air transportation, major highways and soon light rail to go wherever they want to go.

The marketing firm also unveiled a blue and green logo to accompany promotional materials.Besides the city's name, a blue and green three-quarter circle represents that people that can start from SeaTac and go "everywhere" and then return to SeaTac for its attractions. Read more here.

Granholm works to drum up business on trip to Sweden, Germany

Gov. Jennifer Granholm said she’ll focus on recruiting automotive and alternative energy companies to Michigan during her upcoming weeklong trade mission to Sweden and Germany.

Granholm announced an itinerary that begins next Monday and includes visits to three Swedish cities and meetings with executives of six German companies.

She will begin the trip with a keynote speech to a Swedish American Chamber of Commerce assembly of 500 business and government leaders. “Some of it is prospecting, and some of it is deal-closing,” Granholm said, adding that the Michigan Economic Development Corp. has already been working with companies to obtain agreements for Michigan operations.

Of particular interest is Sweden’s renewable energy and biofuels industries, she said. Granholm said Sweden has an ambitious plan to convert nearly all power to renewable energy sources by 2020, and she hopes to convince those industries to come to Michigan. Read more here.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Why Full Disclosure and Transparency Matter

An Orlando area newspaper columnist recently railed against further government support for the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission. She cited exaggerated claims the organization made concerning its role in the location of several companies to the region. Unfortunately, some of the businesses subsantiated the columnist's claims that the MOEDC had little, if any, involvement in their relocation.

The result: damage to the credibility of the organization regardless of how inaccurate the claims may be. The organization should plan a swift, proactive response that is authentic and completely tranparent. They then may earn an opportunity to educate the public on how their efforts contribute to economic growth regadless of their level of involvement with a particular relocating company.

I am sure the MOEDC is a valuable development organization for the region. Unfortunately, it has allowed itself to be measured (and thus, judged) on jobs and investment, two measures any EDO has little control over. We need more realistic metrics that are both comprehensive and measurable to better reflect the true value an EDO brings to a community. Read the opinion column here.

Is It the Death of Demographics?

By Don Peppers

Are the days of demographics as a primary marketing tool over? Market segments are shrinking as information becomes more accessible and easier to analyze. Marketing based on location or purchase history is becoming outdated –- who responds to direct mail addressed to "current resident" anymore?

A unique dialogue with each individual customer, the ideal in one-to-one relationships, is now possible, according to Chris Bailey, CEO of RatePoint, which promotes and analyzes online ratings systems.

"Demographics are a crude way of looking at markets, almost a segmentation of a macro vision of how you approach customers," Bailey says. "If you can get the segment down to one [customer], you can have a much more optimized delivery with instant return."

As futuristic as it may seem to say that companies can communicate with each of their customers differently given today's global marketplace where a small market share could mean millions of consumers, he's not alone in his views.

Martha and I have been advocating this point since day one, and now it looks like technology and strategy have caught up to the idea in a more mainstream way. "Technology today is aligned with [Bailey's] point," says Linda Vytlacil, vice president of Decision Sciences for Carlson Marketing. "Companies are organizing to execute against much more highly individually relevant and uniquely compelling communications to consumers."

Inexpensive storage capacity, software capable of searching large databases, and the prevalence of consumer data collected via the online channel all contribute to more individualized communication. Traditional media like television and print that are mass-produced are suffering as a result of this trend because they can only target large groups, according to Bailey. His contention that demographics are dead, however, is not certain.

"Demographics aren't dead, but using broad sociodemographic information alone for targeting might be," Vytlacil says. "That just isn't as relevant as an organization could be if it knew specific information about a customer."

A better understanding of a customer leads to predictions of behavior, Bailey claims. "Utilizing better and more specific information lets you come up with a profile of each customer and try to make assumptions on their next actions based on what other, similar customers have done," he says. In other words, what does this customer most need from us next?

The question is, where does all this new relevant, critical information on customers come from? Social media and other Web 2.0 technologies will contribute, but Vytlacil sees even more direct interaction between customer and company providing significant insight.

"What's going to be the driver here won't be what the company can extract from the consumer," she says. "It's the collaboration that companies will be doing with their customers." She points to KLM, an airline company that allowed customers to create personalized luggage tags similar to the way credit card imprints can be personalized with different images. In that way the company is collecting such data on customers as their interests without sending a survey or buying a demographic list.

Regardless of how companies acquire it, the key is relevant, specific information. "We won't just be looking at demographics anymore," Bailey says, "but we'll be looking at an individualized approach to optimize results and improve the customer experience."

For more of Chris Bailey's thoughts on the future of demographics, listen to the 1to1 on the Run podcast, "The Death of Demographics."

A question that all economic developers should ask is how changing technologies can help build one-to-one relationships with their various audiences.

Branding Promises Fort Collins Renewal

Look alive, Fort Collins, because we want the whole world to know that this is the place "where renewal is a way of life."

That proposed slogan incorporated into a swooshy logo representing the foothills and Poudre River is perhaps the most tangible product to come out of an $80,000 branding study commissioned by the city.

But city staffers insist the logo is but a very small part of a much bigger branding proposal. It is aimed at establishing a consistent, distinct and unique identity reflecting Fort Collins' superior essence in efforts to market the city as a destination for businesses, visitors and residents.

The findings and recommendations contained in the branding study now are being shopped around in presentations to various boards and civic organizations. Later this fall, the Fort Collins City Council will consider adopting the logo and allocating $236,775 requested to begin implementing the branding program. That first phase would include directional signs, promotional materials and development of a "portal" web site, Read more here.