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

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

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

Recession bites … then Brexit looms … businesses batten down the hatches and avoid thoughts of expansion or relocation while uncertainty abounds … public bodies hunker down to save money and see what happens … time passes … businesses and local bodies adapt to the new economic flux … companies’ thoughts return to growth and expansion …  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. And these organisations are wise to grasp the place marketing nettle now.

Firstly, competing places may 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 could 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 whenever you like by turning a tap. Like any serious branding effort, it takes 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 economic growth in a post-Brexit nation, whatever that ends up looking like.

 

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.