It’s funny how certain fields of marketing seem to demonstrate sudden surges in interest.

One field showing this right now is place marketing (‘place branding’, ‘location marketing’ or ‘inward investment marketing’ if you prefer). By this I mean the promotion of cities, towns, districts or counties to boost their economic fortunes by attracting businesses, visitors, students or residents – or all of these.

There’s probably a good reason for the apparent rise in interest, as follows:

Recession bites … businesses batten down the hatches and avoid thoughts of expansion or relocation … local bodies hunker down to save money and see what happens … time passes … then businesses adapt the a new economic landscape & the economy gradually starts improving … companies’ thoughts turn to growth …  and the pressure is on to attract them to your area.  

It’s interesting to look at the types of organisations which are taking this inward investment action. Certainly it’s the more dynamic, forward-thinking local authorities. It’s also business associations, inward investment bodies, tourism groups, colleges and universities.

Those which work well together within an area will fare the best.

These organisations are wise to grasp the place marketing nettle firmly now.

Firstly, competing places may still be sitting on their hands, so you may be able to steal a march on them.

Of course, the converse is also true: if you’re not taking action, your rival locations may well be – and good companies and economically active residents deciding to locate there instead will be your loss for years to come.

Secondly, you can’t turn place marketing and inward investment on by flicking a switch now the business climate is beginning to improve. Like any serious branding effort, it takes considerable time and commitment to build.

So places need to start today, if they haven’t already, and be as proactive as possible.

Those that do it well will put themselves in a far stronger position to grab a decent slice of the future economic action.


See my next post on this subject: How inspirational is your place brand?

See also information about our work with economic development companies and local government bodies.


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