Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Vermillion Campaign Hoping To Boost Development

Looking to improve and expand a cities economic development is one venture many cities might find difficult during tough economic times, but it's turned out to be the perfect time for one South Dakota town.

The town of Vermillion has seen very little change in their population over the last few decades, and that's left officials concerned about what the future of their town may hold. So, the chamber development board devised a program that started by gathering funds from those in the community looking to reinvest in Vermillion's growth. In just the first few months, they are already seeing results.

Economic struggles encouraged Vermillion leaders to take a closer look at what was happening in their town. “We found that compared to other communities our size we had higher poverty rates, lower wages, less career opportunities. As University community we have a lot of businesses that tend to serve that community and we have a lot of people working multiple jobs doing low wage service and retail work,” Vermillion Area Chamber Executive Director Steve Howe said.

They were concerned by the results. That's where Vermillion Now comes in. Vermillion Now is a campaign to solve the economic problems of Clay County and encourage new growth. They spoke with businesses throughout the community who were looking to reinvest and make changes to draw more people to Vermillion and keep those who are here.

“We're going to need to use those funds to improve industrial parks, market our community out to the region to let them know we're open and ready for them,” Howe said.

In addition to marketing the funds will be used to expand health care in the city and build a relationship for research opportunities with the USD Medical School and entice students who graduate from the university to stay in Vermillion.

Vermillion Now's goal is to raise $1.5 million by July. In the last two months alone, they've raised $1.1 million, exceeding their expectations and putting Vermillion Now on track to reach their goal.

“We've seen what communities like Vermillion have done and it's time for Vermillion to step up and take control of their own destiny,” Howe said.

That's exactly what city officials and businesses in the community are hoping to do.

The City of Vermillion will match the Vermillion Now campaign funds up to $450,000 that will be spread across five year.

Airport drafts economic plan

Hernando Today
Published: April 27, 2009

BROOKSVILLE - When economic development officials try to lure new business or industry to a county, the first thing those companies typically ask is whether there is a large enough parcel of land ready to be moved on quickly.

Airport Director Don Silvernell said he has an answer to that question: Come on down to the airport industrial park – there's plenty of room available.

Silvernell said he has entered into a partnership with the Office of Business Development to market a 50- to 100-acre parcel of unused airport industrial land that economic development officials can use as part of an overall incentives package to attract a large primary company to the site at reduced or no cost.

That land does not have any near-term development plans and is currently not generating revenue.

A qualified industry would be a minimum 500 jobs with a $25 million investment.

Silvernell already has the green light from the Federal Aviation Authority to go ahead with the economic stimulus plan, as long as that agency can review any proposed lease agreements with prospective companies.

Silvernell said once he explained the possible revenue the airport could realize from such a large industry on-site, the FAA was amenable.

His hope is that a primary industry would entice supporting companies to lease land around it, stimulating the local economy even more. Silvernell said he would like to see an airplane manufacturer take advantage of the land, although any clean industry would be acceptable.

County commissioners recently allocated $500,000 to the Office of Business Development to be used as incentives to attract new industry. By offering airport land that is currently sitting vacant, the county would not have to take money from the general fund and could put that larger pot of money toward other incentives. More here.

Direct marketing is the new black

Scott Hornstein, president of marketing, Hornstein Associates, and CMO, Wired Assets Data Corp.

These are the times that try marketers’ souls. On the other hand, this is not the time to hide or be timid. It is the time to be effective, and to redeploy the majority of what’s left of your marketing budget into direct marketing for one very good reason: The strategy is, at its core, measurable and ROI-driven.

Here are some critical factors that can lead to direct-marketing success. Each one is a powerful lever, and energy spent here will be highly rewarding.

• Integrate the media mix. Let's face it, people do not learn effectively from one source or medium. People—and here I mean potential customers—have their own private networks buzzing in their heads, chock-a-block with things great and small. As marketers, it takes a bit of effort to get on their play lists. To penetrate, consider using several media in concert to reinforce core messaging

All individuals have their own media preferences, so they may tune you out just because you’re on the wrong channel. Marketers may feel that their messages are most powerful and effective via one channel, such as tele-sales or e-mail. But if a good portion of your prospects hate receiving one or the other, or some other form of communications, they won’t even listen. So mix it up.

• Integrate a healthy dose of customer care. Our carefully crafted brands can be blown up in three minutes of poor customer care. It’s my bet that in this flat world, the level and consistency of customer care, as experienced by the individual customer, is one blockbuster of a competitive differentiator.

To do this, measure the downside as well as the upside. That means paying attention not just to conversion rates and average orders, but also to how many “irates” you got—unhappy customers or prospects—and how that stacked up against your goal. I’d certainly like an early read if there is a customer service or satisfaction problem brewing. Bad will is tough to undue in this hyper-connected world.

• Invest in database quality. You'll want to do this simply because the strategic purpose of the database is to help you allocate your precious resources most effectively. Thus, a lot of little errors can cause a big problem with something as simple as deliverability or as complex as database mining. We’ve got a ton of science but, unless the raw material is of high quality, the output will be flawed.

And consider carefully your focus. It's likely that about 20% of your existing customers account for about 80% of your revenue. However, marketing budgets are often devoted to prospecting, with a smaller amount allocated to existing customers. What would happen if we had a better correlation between budget and revenue, and spent more on our best customers? I think I know.

• Account for everything, but report only key metrics. We have to measure everything because we want to know where the money goes. But day to day, we want to pay attention only to the most essential metrics, and dig deeper if we need to. (Hint: E-mail open rates and Web site visits are not key metrics.) Use metrics as a basis to test assumptions and to continuously improve.

• Measure performance. Set aggressive standards. How aggressive? Each direct marketing effort should achieve at least a 10% response rate.

Look at it this way: If you get a 2% response, 98% of your customers threw you in the garbage. Hand that 98% more stuff they don't want over a period of time and they are going to get tired of hearing from you. I’ll bet that you, as a consumer, exhibit this very behavior. So set your the bar as high as you reasonably can.

• Measure the ratio of expense to revenue. I like this metric because it gives you a quick read. Let’s say you spent $10 and made $100. That’s a 10% expense-to-revenue (E:R) ratio. However, if it’s over 25%, you're spending too much. Figure out what’s wrong and don’t do it again.

Scott Hornstein is president of marketing and sales consultancy Hornstein Associates ( and is CMO of Wired Assets Data Corp ( He can be reached at

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

When Regions Unite, Businesses Succeed

From Business Xpansion Journal:

When Regions Unite, Businesses Succeed” points out innovators reap advantages when regions speak with one voice. Investigate recently launched regional economic development initiatives, as well as more established ones.

View the latest digital issues of Business Xpansion Journal by visiting

Team NEO gives top site consultants a tour of Northeast Ohio's assets

CLEVELAND -- Fifty-five stories over Public Square offers a sweeping view of Cleveland's past and emerging future.

If you want to impress someone -- say, four of the country's most influential real estate prospectors -- it makes sense to start here.

And so, while the city bustled to do its rock 'n' roll best two weekends ago, a much smaller yet vital effort to showcase the region started with breakfast served on Royal Doulton china in the 55th-floor conference room at Key Tower.

Over the next 40 hours, the region's savviest business boosters would squire three men and one woman to private confabs with the region's brightest minds and most powerful leaders.

The four picked virtual flowers at the NASA Glenn Research Center, ate killer cheesecake in Bratenahl and thrilled to guitar licks from rock icons Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page.

Why the red carpet? These four can make new business happen.

They are among the best of some 2,000 "site selectors" nationwide, experts in the data-crunching art of matching businesses with sites for expansion or relocation.

A new plant or corporate headquarters are manna for job-starved regions like ours. So top site consultants are peppered with invitations from cities and regions, often linked with high-profile events.

"I could do it every weekend if I said yes," says Noah Shlaes, a manager of strategic consulting for Grubb & Ellis Co. in Chicago. More here.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Marketing team to sell Valley's economic assets

EDINBURG — With a deadline for the first request due Friday, the staff at this city's economic development corporation spent the past week finalizing a proposal designed to bring new jobs to the region.

The request for proposals - aimed at a company looking to locate an advanced manufacturing plant somewhere in the country - was the first in a series of requests that should keep Rio Grande Valley economic development officials busy the next few weeks as they prepare site plans and presentations to try to attract new investment in their corner of the world.

But here's the deal: It's not real.

The mock requests for proposals - similar to what officials would prepare when trying to draw a real company to the Valley - are part of a complete marketing effort designed to make the Valley more attractive to key industry targets.

An economic development marketing team was hired last month to come up with a comprehensive, Valley-wide marketing strategy to draw more development to the region. More here.