Economic development marketing has long played an integral role in business recruitment and retention. It’s an essential tool for showcasing what makes communities great places to live, work and play. Its counterpart, tourism marketing, helps draw visitors into the region and generate spending to support the local economy. The question is: what does economic development marketing look like during a global pandemic?
Convincing a company to relocate their corporate headquarters during a pandemic is a hard sell. But, convincing a company who is already doing business in your community to maintain their presence is time well spent. Whether an iconic business in town is looking to add a second warehouse, lease or buy more space to accommodate diversified services or consolidate multiple locations into one, reminding them that the community is business-friendly and resilient is key.
When it comes to attracting talent, cities, states and counties are faced with unique opportunities. In New York, many individuals and families have migrated from New York City to the Hudson Valley craving more space after spending months quarantined in tiny apartments. Similarly, the residential real estate market in Fairfield County, Conn. has benefitted from this migration. As cities, states and counties look to market themselves, it’s important to remember that many remote work opportunities were born out of COVID, giving people more choices over where they live. Marketing quality of life amenities is the lynchpin of your community’s story in this climate.
The biggest challenge organizations face in a climate of social distancing and many shuttered destinations is selling the experience from afar. Inviting bloggers and influencers to spend the day at an amusement park, experience a resort or participate in tasting events isn’t realistic right now. This shift has left many organizations digging through their content archives to reminisce about the “good old days” when travel and tourism were a part of daily life. While content must shift accordingly – and many destinations and attractions have done a good job of meeting this challenge – an often overlooked opportunity is temporarily focusing on a different audience: the locals.
While air travel may not be realistic for many, people who are staying local, especially this summer, are looking for safe activities to pass the time. Whether the restaurant at your resort is offering curbside pickup or you’ve opened your private golf and tennis courts to area residents, there is a story to be told and content to share. Think of it as an opportunity to build local brand ambassadors who will tell their out-of-town friends what a great place this is to visit when the time is right.
For live performance venues, many of whom remain shuttered due to restrictions on gathering sizes, this is the time to take people behind the scenes, throwback to some top-notch performances and maintain strong relationships with patrons. While the inside of your theatre may be dark, this isn’t the time to shut off your marketing.
As organizations work to deploy effective economic development marketing and tourism marketing campaigns, shifting mood, tone and theme are key to success. Audience mindsets shifted during COVID and will continue to do so as states make their way through various phases of reopening. The organizations whose campaigns will make the biggest impact in this climate are those who stay up-to-date on consumer trends and adapt to the climate around them.