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The Higher ED Blog: 5 game changers to help economic developers better promote their community

Alysha Dominico / June 6, 2016

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The Higher ED Blog: 5 game changers to help economic developers better promote their community

Whether you’re attracting investors or keeping existing industry engaged, communicating your assets and success is pivotal to economic development.

But marketing is getting more challenging. Consumers of all kinds (including site selectors) expect to find information through online searches; and they’re disdainful of ads which do not contain information immediately relevant to their immediate interests.

“Content Marketing” arose as a tool in the communications toolbox to help people with a message to overcome their audience’s apathy by providing immediate useful content, found by online search or given to the targeted person at the right time (i.e. in their purchase cycle).

Content Marketing offers a win-win scenario for both the consumer and the marketer.  The marketer’s brand and message are mixed in with the helpful information, and the user is satisfied with high-value information shared.

Here’s an Example: this very article you’re reading now.

Why this article is ‘a win’ for the user: As an economic developer, you’ll find this information useful to know so you can better plan your communication with investors, and so you can also can share it with your existing businesses (so they can better approach their target customers).

Yet at the same time, the author (Alysha Dominico from Tangible Words) and the series publisher (University of Waterloo’s Economic Development Program) are promoting a seminar we want you to attend. By reading the rest of this article, you’ll get lots of knowledge – and if you come June 17th 2016 to Kingston for the University of Waterloo’s Content Marketing for Economic Developers seminar you learn how to get the right information to the right person at the right time using Content Marketing.

Below are 5 lessons in content marketing that will help economic developers better promote their communities.  These points will help you refine your content and digital marketing to make them more effective and useful for your audience. If it all seems overwhelming, or if you want to drill down into the details , we can help you with all of this. Come June 17 and learn more about these topics so you can take your community onto the front lines and become one of 2017’s most innovative economic development groups. June 17 details at the end of the article.

The Top Five Lessons in Content Marketing for Economic Developers To Know:

1. Social media marketing is not a quick fix.

You’ve got to work at it just like any other sales pitch you make. Having a Content Strategy and Content Policy makes sure your whole team can contribute and that all messages will be strategic (or else it’s not worth the bother!).

This way, you won’t be sitting around hoping a pithy comment or a great image brings interest to you. Instead, be prepared to create content that’s compelling to your potential consumers and interesting enough for your existing followers and loyal customers to share.

2. Re-doing Your Website? The #1 fail of all websites – including municipal websites – is to forget to do the Content First, Then the Design.

There are two critical steps before choosing your website design: your Communications Plan & Website Content Strategy, and secondly, a User-Focused Information Architecture (I bet you $10 every website you’ve ever been disappointed in skipped both of these vital steps!).

Finally – to help with the transition after your website, your staff are going to need training so the site doesn’t get messy from the contributions of multiple writers. (Yes, Tangible Words can be the one stop shop you need for all this.)

3. Plan your website with your Website Purpose in mind.

Your target audience needs to get what they’re looking for and at the right time in their decision making cycle. Too often websites have unleashed all the details all at once, this overwhelms the reader and makes it hard for them to make a decision or ask for more from you.

A flashy website with no clear call to action is just a pretty placeholder. Do you want people to download something, book an event, donate, or call you? You need to tell them what to do, point blank. Make sure you give them the right tools to complete the eventual transaction you’re hoping for.

4. Know Your Target Audience.

Most economic development teams have two key audiences: investors and existing businesses. Most economic development websites lack a balance of both audiences by being either 100% investors, or 100% existing business in focus.

Showing how you take good care of existing business is the best way to prove to investors what an incredibly innovative community we have. Collaborative community projects, your success stories that feature your role in their success, your opportunities all offer credibility that investors need to see from you. Don’t make your existing businesses seem like an afterthought on your website.

Also, if you think agency organizations, municipal members or residents are also in your target audience, consider what level of content they need from your site and/or what role they’re playing when they are on your site.

For example, the residents might come to the site with a business lens on so they really behave like a business. Same with your agency organizations – are they really just looking for information for an existing business they’re trying to help? When you know how people operate on your site, you can give the right content at the right time.

5. Tidy your lists.

You know how many emails you get. Your audiences will see your emails the same way.

Gmail offers a feature where certain senders automatically go into a “Promotions” folder  – that’s not such a bad thing thing if you’re aware of it and working it to your advantage.  (There are emails I get in my Promotions folder which I read religiously!)

The secret is to train the audience on what kind of content they can expect in your e-newsletter. If you have a mix of people on your newsletter and you haven’t gone through the process of tidying up that list and putting them on appropriate segments of that list according to their interests – you are missing out on a vital level of engagement.

Similarly, if you are blasting content to the whole list, and your content strategy for what you share is not consistent, you are also missing a vital moment to connect with your audience in a more meaningful way.

Your e-newsletters are a chance to nurture your relationships – they’re not a chance to blast your message without keeping it 100% focused on what content your audience craves (that weakens the entire system–and your community’s presence!).

“Tangible Words created a Communications Plan and Content Strategy to help our Innovative Rural Opportunities Sector Team organize our ideas, consult industry research and better understand how to separate and satisfy the differing needs of our target audiences.” Shelley Hirstwood, OEEDC

 

Want to Start Building Your Communications ToolKit?

Register Online For Content Marketing for Economic Developers, in Kingston June 17, 2016:

Facilitator Alysha Dominico, the Founder of Tangible Words, has been helping Ontario’s economic developers seize the opportunities content marketing offers for the past four years and will be sharing her secrets to success. In this full day, hands-on session, Alysha will share economic development best practices, top tips, case stories and everything you need to know about what it takes to get in the content game.  You’ll leave knowing how to communicate better and more easily – with more effective use of your resources.

About the author

Alysha Dominico, CEO & Founder of Tangible Words, helps attract more business and attention to your community with truly strategic messaging (on your website and other communication channels) by following a simple principle: content first, then design. An experienced English and Literacy teacher (before re-training as a copywriter), Alysha understands how people read online, is an excellent team facilitator and knows how to get great projects off the ground.

Non-profit corporations, government departments and SMEs across Australia and Canada hire Tangible Words to craft communications plans and content strategies, write SEO-improving website content, develop website and Intranet best practices, and train your in-house communications staff to excel at strategic communications.

About the series                                                                                      

Higher ED: Insights for the Next Economy is a platform for students, guest speakers, staff and faculty of the University of Waterloo’s professional and graduate economic development programs to share knowledge with the field at large. The series takes works destined for an academic audience and reworks them into a fresh, easy-to-digest blog article.

Established in 1988, the Local Economic Development program is the only master’s program in Canada devoted solely to local economic development. It offers a balance between theory and practice by combining coursework, a major research paper, an internship, and weekly seminars featuring guest speakers. Students are prepared for careers in local, community, or regional economic development.

The Economic Development Program is a nationally-accredited provider of professional training. It delivers certification programs and seminars that offer a deep understanding of the Canadian context in a convenient block format. Peer learning is combined with informative lectures and practical case studies to provide dynamic instruction that is beneficial for junior and senior-level practitioners.

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