Monday, May 10, 2010

Where Do You Fit In? Only by understanding your client’s place in the food chain can you understand your own. By Jim Walton CEO, Brand Acceleration, Inc. Indianapolis and Charlotte At a recent regional conference for the Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS), a higher education representative suggested that it might be a good idea for designers to interview end users for a proposed life sciences building in order to better understand their needs. By using Building Information Modeling (BIM), it was suggested that it is possible to give them a virtual walk-through before actually building the building. Their suggestion made me wonder; as marketers, just how thorough are we at understanding our target audiences and their myriad needs? A site selection consultant friend once observed how some communities are masters at attracting target industries while others are mere wishful thinkers. The more prepared economic developers fully understand the needs of their prospective clients; have researched their industries, their target audiences, trade associations, trade shows, and have matched them with the assets of their community. Their marketing efforts are very detailed, speaking specifically to the needs of the audience. This is clearly required in order to make a case for locating there. The unprepared economic developer, in my friend’s opinion, is often no more than a wishful thinker, hoping to get lucky enough to land the next big pharmaceutical manufacturing facility or auto plant. The problem is that he or she may have overlooked the research and marketing required to appropriately tell their story. Marketing is active, not passive In a slow economy, the competition can be tougher than ever. You’re not just one of five bidders anymore. You may be one of thirty or more. New competitors are coming out of the woodwork. That means you can no longer take a passive approach. Sadly, when times get tough, marketing is one of the first budget items to be cut. What to do now! So, how do you use your very limited budget to get attention in a very competitive arena? Begin with these simple steps: First, specifically identify your target. You must know just who you want to reach and why. Select the industry or industries that are your best fit. Not just the ones you want but those that are most likely to turn into business now. Next, clearly match your assets to the needs of the audience. It’s crucial that you be able to make a strong case for being selected. And finally, develop a highly-targeted plan to repeatedly reach the audience. Use your limited budget and a clear message to speak directly to your target audience. At Brand Acceleration, we are often challenged to develop a marketing communications plan that will generate results with a very limited budget. This is a challenge that we love because it gets everyone focused. Working very closely with our client, we go through the process just described and carefully select tactics that are likely to be successful. Doing nothing is not an option. Well, it is an option but the results will match the effort. In order to understand your place in the food chain, you need to thoroughly understand where you fit in. No more wishful thinking. No more hoping. In today’s economy, it’s time to get real. Do a real evaluation of your assets and skill sets and direct your marketing efforts where they will yield results. Brand Acceleration is a full-service advertising, brand management and public relations firm operating from Indianapolis, Indiana and Charlotte, North Carolina. The agency’s focus is on economic development, architecture/engineering/construction, real estate and motorsports.

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