I’ve always been a huge believer that customer service is one of the most valuable pieces of brand development. Companies who have superior customer service are recognized as a stronger brand and tend to have better sales numbers than those without. Associations who put customer service first tend to have a greater number of members than those who do not. The fact of the matter is that sales are directly proportional to customer service. The same can be said for economic development.
So, how are you manning the front lines of your economic development efforts?
Continue reading “Who’s on the Front Lines of your Economic Development?”
Admittedly, I am not a fan of billboards. A few years back a friend from Scenic America pointed out that billboards are the only form of advertising that the target audience cannot turn off, turn the channel, turn the page or log off. Opposition in many communities towards billboards is growing. A documentary has been made highlighting this trend – it’s worth a look.
Trailer from This space available on Vimeo.
While the growing cases of billboard bashing may at first appear singular and unique, I think there is more to it. I see it as representative of a larger trend of local stakeholders, residents and investors valuing their own community in a different way. As more state and local leaders realize that the days of smokestack chasing as an economic development strategy are over, the more they are looking inward at the quality of their communities. They are recognizing that amenities such as housing, parks, transportation options and yes, even view sheds are the primary criteria upon which their communities are being evaluated.
The rise in smaller firms and entrepreneurial start-ups as a key economic driver makes this trend even more important. Those mega industrial opportunities that primarily sought large tracts of land or sites supported by rail and highways are becoming the exception rather than the rule. Attention today is focused on a greater degree on infill opportunities, urban sites and mixed use development.
So, look around your own community and ask – how do we look? Are we doing the best we can do to attract modern investment. Or do we need to take on or support different approaches to drive modern economic development. You may end up choosing not to advertise your community on that large billboard blocking the view of your mountain range.
We spend a lot of time visiting community websites as part of our strategy and community assessment work. Here are a few helpful hints (offered in order of priority) we find incredibly useful.
- Contact information – Above all else, on the “contact us” or similar page, include the names of each staff person, their title, direct email and phone number. Contact information forms or “info@” emails don’t cut it. It costs time and delays the process.
- Maps – On the home page, clearly identify the name of your community, the state in which it is located and a map (Google maps work great).
- Info Links – Avoid repurposing your industry or demographic data in a marketing or promotional format. Find a valid data source (government preferred) and link directly to the relevant data set when possible.
- Reports – These are helpful. Comprehensive plans, strategic documents, cluster studies, workforce analyses – the more the merrier – Just make sure they are the most recent reports or indicate which report is the most recent.
- Social Media – It’s here to stay. Building online communities are just as important as building physical communities. By creating and promoting your community or organization online, you increase stakeholder and funder interest in what you are doing.
Live by these five points and your website will be liked and useful.