Inc. Highlights One State’s Economic Development Plan as a Model for Others

Massachusetts Governor Patrick

Governor Patrick signed an economic development plan that will help Massachusetts’ many small businesses.

Inc.’s recent article, “Why Massachusetts’ Plans for Economic Development Could (And Should) Blaze a Trail for Other States,” takes an in-depth look at the recently-signed $80 million economic development bill aimed at supporting the state’s small businesses. The article goes as far as saying that this plan “could serve as a model for those looking to give small businesses a boost.”

While Massachusetts’ plan mirrors some national efforts to support small businesses, the article highlights the state’s unique efforts, including: $12 million for a skills and job training grant fund; $2 million for a Big Data Innovation and Workforce Fund; $1 million to create a ‘talent pipeline’ program; and $1 million for a startup mentoring program. In addition, Massachusetts is considering overturning its non-compete laws, so talent can accept new jobs more freely while also increasing the competitiveness of venture-supported businesses.

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The Rising Importance of Video in Economic Development: Why Moving Images Should be in Your Next Marketing Strategy

You’ve tried print ads, direct mail, e-newsletters and social media, but what about moving images?

Last year, Forbes told us why online video is vital for marketing campaigns. This year, it seems that big consumer brands are finally taking note, with companies like MasterCard, Procter & Gamble, Honda, Mondolez and Verizon Wireless slowly transitioning their ad dollars to online video. Some even say that “Brands and Agencies Aren’t Shifting Dollars to Video Fast Enough.”

The fact is, nearly 88 million people watch online video on a daily basis, according to Neilson. That’s a 14 percent increase from last year.

But so what if consumer brands are doing it, why should economic developers care? Here are five reasons why your organization might want to capture your region on camera:

  1. Because it’s Good for SEO – YouTube is the number two search engine in the world (and not to mention, owned by the number one search engine in the world: Google). YouTube videos are also often included towards the top of search results pages—therefore, pushing your brand to the forefront.
  2. It’s Trackable – Unlike print ads, videos uploaded to YouTube show how many people have seen your message (through the number of “views”). Plus, if you share your video link through social media, you can track the number of clicks.
  3. Multipurpose Marketing Tool – Video is not a single-use marketing tool. Once your video is finished, you can use it to show in prospect meetings, broadcast it at trade show booths and include it on your official website.
  4. Video Has a Human Element – Psychology consultant to Amazon and Walmart, Susan Weinschenk Phd. notes that video offers an irresistible human element: voice conveys rich information,movement grabs attention, emotions are contagious and there is even a “brain function that hard-wires us to use the human face as a gathering point for information and believability.” Since so much of economic development depends on relationship building, video is a great solution to humanize your brand in ways that print and digital simply can’t.
  5. You Can Do it on a Dime – Because TV no longer has an exclusive hold on video and viewership, brands no longer have to contact the local broadcasting company to buy a limited “spot” for video. Today, brands (and anyone in the world) can upload a video with a free YouTube, Vimeo or Facebook account—and it can live forever. Yes, video production costs can be high—but delivering your message to an audience is absolutely free. Also, there’s DIY video editing platforms such as Animoto and Screencast that have pricing options ranging from $40/month to absolutely free.

Still not sure if video has a place in your economic development marketing plan? Take a look to see how other economic development groups are already testing the video waters.

CHARLESTON REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT ALLIANCE: SHOWCASING INDUSTRY STRENGTHS THROUGH VIDEO

Videos can be used to showcase specific industries, as the Charleston Regional Development Alliance does with this tech overview video. Plus, text alone just can’t do justice to one of Charleston’s greatest advantages (prominently featured in the video), which is “90 miles of coastline.”

THE CHARLOTTE CHAMBER: CONVEYING KEY MESSAGES WITH FOOTAGE, NOT COPY

Know the golden rule of “show, don’t tell”? Instead of telling people about your region’s key messages through text, why not show them through video? The Charlotte Chamber successfully shows its cosmopolitan culture, low cost of living, convenient geographic location, top-rated schools, year-round recreation, southern hospitality and more—all under eight minutes.

IMAGINE PITTSBURGH: SPOTLIGHTING REGIONAL STORYTELLERS

To attract talent, Pittsburgh wanted to tell people that their city is a “great place to advance a career and build a life to love.” But how do you prove that? Well, Pittsburgh thought you could simply “Meet the Neighbors” in their latest video series which showcases the lives (both work and play) of some sixteen Pittsburgh residents who are making a success for themselves in the Pennsylvania city.

GREATER HOUSTON PARTNERSHIP: ADDRESSING THE SKILLS GAP

After the Greater Houston Partnership launched its report and action plan, “Addressing Houston’s Middle Skills Jobs Challenge,” it became clear that the organization needed to convey the urgent need to launch an  industry-led workforce development program to fill middle skills jobs and build careers in advanced manufacturing, construction, healthcare, oil and gas, petrochemical, ports and maritime, and utilities. This video clearly lays out both the problem and the solution.

NYC ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION: TESTIMONIALS STRAIGHT FROM THE INVESTOR’S MOUTH

Business testimonials from companies that have grown in the Big Apple come to life in this video series by the NYC Economic Development Commission called “I Made it Here”. Because these testimonials are in video form, the organization showcases a credibility level that can sometimes be hard to achieve with text-only print and digital marketing. Plus, prospective companies can hear about your region “right from the horse’s mouth.”

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This Just In: AdWeek Highlights DMOs That Partner With Social Influencers for Big Results

follow your nola2

Unlike regular consumer products, selling travel is the art of converting sales for an intangible collection of experiences. What’s more, these targeted consumers need to journey away from their home to obtain the value of their purchase, providing an added challenge for destination marketers to overcome.

Social media has allowed destination marketers an engaging channel to entice potential travelers by harnessing the power of virtual word-of-mouth. DMOs have found success developing creative socially driven campaigns to engage and attract visitors.

For example, The Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board’s “What’s Your L.A. Story?” campaign, showcases the city in 15-second video vignettes, highlighting true visitor stories such as a father and son visiting the venue where The Doors debuted. Instagram Influencers were also courted to visit the destination and tag  posted photos with #LAStory. This accounted for half the campaign’s 25 million social media impressions.

New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corp. used a similar tactic with their “Follow Your NOLA,” inviting a dozen digital story tellers to the city. To date, the “Follow Your NOLA” campaign has generated 600 million total impressions and drove a 20 percent increase in traffic to neworleansonline.com.

For the full article, click here. 

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Social Media Challenges in Destination Marketing

This article was re-posted from the Business 2 Community blog on August 2, 2014.

Earlier this year, we celebrated Facebook’s 10th anniversary, LinkedIn boasted more than 300 million active users while TripAdvisor now has more than 175 million reviews. We have come to expect seeing travel & hospitality stakeholders managing accounts on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter or even Google+. In other words, social media marketing has moved beyond bells and whistles and is now the mainstay of a sound digital strategy, along with having a transactional, mobile-optimized website and a clean database for frequent, automated emails and/or newsletters. But while social media is now recognized as important, in particular within the travel vertical, managing it remains a constant challenge.

BEST PRACTICES

During its most recent annual summit in Vegas, DMAI (Destination Marketing Association International) shared the results from a recent study conducted by Development Counsellors International, surveying more than 100 individuals responsible for social media marketing at destination marketing organizations across North America. Some findings were real eye-openers, confirming what many observers suspected: while social media are considered important for a majority, budget allocation remains marginal, at best.

Social Media Challenges in Destination Marketing image Screen Shot 2014 07 24 at 12.32.29 PM 600x391

This chart shows that 71% of destinations surveyed must deal with a social media marketing budget of less than 25,000$. Perhaps even more surprisingly, 99% of organizations have a digital marketing budget, yet only 60% have a dedicated envelope for social media activities.

Social Media Challenges in Destination Marketing image Screen Shot 2014 07 24 at 12.33.03 PM 600x436

Related Resources from B2C
» Free Webcast: Using Data and Design to Create a Knockout Email Nurture Program

This second chart demonstrates beyond any doubt how social media are under-represented in the big picture of digital marketing budgets. Roughly 76% of destinations allocate less than 10% of their total marketing budgets to social media, regardless of the size of the digital marketing budget to being with!

Social Media Challenges in Destination Marketing image Screen Shot 2014 07 28 at 10.17.19 PM 600x170

So how are social media budgets spent? Some very interesting findings here, shedding light on some best practices by destinations in their social media efforts. According to the survey, most popular budget allocations are:

  • 39% in paid promotion: promoted tweets, Facebook ads and promoted posts, etc.
  • 29% in content development: graphics, writing, photos and videos, apps.
  • 28% invest in Human Resources for engagement.
  • 18% spend on contest initiatives.
  • 13% spend their budget on monitoring tools such as Radian6, VocusSocial, Sysomos, etc.

Social Media Challenges in Destination Marketing image Screen Shot 2014 07 24 at 12.37.04 PM 600x487

One eye-opening finding is that destination brands with intermediate social media marketing budgets seem to be the ones outsourcing this function the most. In particular organizations with budgets within the 25,000-50,000$ bracket, 83% of which outsource their social media activities, handing it over to agencies and/or freelance experts. We are not so surprised to see that destinations with the smallest budgets tend to keep activities in-house, since budgets are scarce to being with. Nevertheless, it is somewhat surprising to find out that virtually one out of every three DMO outsources its social media activities.

Social Media Challenges in Destination Marketing image Screen Shot 2014 07 24 at 12.40.51 PM 600x478

Finally, when surveying what are today’s top social media challenges face by DMOs, again I was somewhat surprised not to see some concerns rank higher, i.e. maintaining engagement, or budget constraints. In fact, the biggest challenge seems to be one shared by many industries alike, and not just in marketing: time, or a lack therof. Over 30% of destination marketing managers identified time as a key challenge, specially with new social networks and mobile apps creeping up all the time and despite of softwares that help managing it all.

It’s no wonder the second biggest challenge is to stay abreast of new trends and technologies that can help making sense of it all. In fact, attending industry events, conferences and participating in various training and webinars is a key component of staying on top of evolving trends and finding out the tools and tech to help managers in their everyday chores handling social media activities.

Social Media Challenges in Destination Marketing image Screen Shot 2014 07 24 at 12.44.31 PM 600x78

One last word. Return on investment (ROI) is almost always a key performance indicator in most organizations, yet it remains elusive in particular in destination marketing, where direct sales are not core to their business model (compared, say, to a hotel, restaurant or transportation). Nevertheless, it’s surprising to see only 8.1% of respondents identifying this challenge as key. Does it make it less important to measure? Of course not, but it does reflect how difficult it remains to “prove” social media campaigns, and that destination marketing organizations have integrated different ways to address this concern in some shape or form.

Do any of the above results surprise you? I would love to hear your comments in the section below.

Click here for more on this DMAI report

 

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Millennial Boomtowns: The Metro Areas That Are Magnets for Millennials

Joel Kotkin’s most recent article in Forbes, “Millennial Boomtowns: Where The Generation Is Clustering (It’s Not Downtown),” suggests that while much of the writing about millennials focuses on their preference to live in “car-free” major urban cores, an in-depth analysis of where these individuals actually reside paints a different picture. Contrary to what’s been commonly […]

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Creative PR Stunts for Destinations

Consumers need to see your brand an average of 56 times between inspiration and transaction. Also, according to the late Jay Conrad Levinson who penned the direct-to-consumer marketing bible “Guerrilla Marketing,” only one in nine impressions get through to customers—and that was before social media! So creating memorable touch points for consumers is crucial. Due […]

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Corporate Travel, and Safety Concerns, On the Rise

Corporate travel is on the rise. According to the Global Business Travel Association, spending on business travel is projected to increase by approximately 7 percent this year, with a 3 percent increase – equivalent to $292.3 billion – in the United States. That means it’s a great year for DMOs who rely on hotel occupancy tax […]

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Five Great Quotes from Site Selection Consultants…

Last week, Consultant Connect held its third Summit of the year, bringing 17 site selection consultants together with eight economic developers in Chicago. I went through my notes on the flight home and picked out five quotes from the roundtable discussions that really stood out as great advice for the economic development profession. I’m paraphrasing […]

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Traits of an Economic Development Leader: As Told by DCI’s 40 Under 40 Selection Committee

It’s that time of year again for submitting nominations for DCI’s 40 Under 40! We’re looking to identify and honor the most promising economic development professionals under the age of 40. This year’s 40 Under 40 selection committee, which will ultimately score each nominee based on their successes, is looking forward to reviewing nominations that […]

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Carlsbad Talent Attraction Campaign Showcases the California City’s “Life in Action”

The city of Carlsbad’s “Life in Action” talent attraction campaign aims to share the untold stories of opportunity available for skilled professionals in this city that’s 35 miles north of San Diego and home to the second-largest life sciences cluster in the U.S. City officials began work on the campaign in 2012, as they began […]

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