What is community marketing? It seems like an easy question to answer. We get marketing messages every day, and yet, when you stop to think about marketing your community, it can be hard to define and move forward with a strategic plan. Some people may associate marketing with some sort of in your face promotional effort – which it can be, but doesn’t have to be. More may believe that marketing is a matter of having a name that is well-known – which is a part of the story, but not all of it.
When we think about how we’re living in the Alexandria area, it’s easy to see that we live, shop and work in a great area. We have numerous locally-started companies that employ thousands of our residents. We have new curriculum at our high school that gives students a more personalized school day for their future college and/or workforce needs. We also have the Alexandria Technical & Community College that offers a number of programs with career placement that is among the highest of all Minnesota public two-year colleges.
As an economic development organization, we get to market the community and all it has to offer to a wide variety of audiences –executives with site selection responsibilities, location advisors, skilled workers seeking a career, and the news media to name a few. And while it is important to send our area’s message to these sources, we also see the need to market the Alexandria area to other audiences. Not only do we want to attract growing companies that will invest in our community, but we also want talented workers to relocate and fill open positions in our region.
We also rely on the community to be our message. The local business community comes into frequent contact with the outside world via business colleagues, friends, and relatives. If you have positive views on our hometown and its progress, you will undoubtedly reflect this with the outside world. In today’s world, there is nothing more powerful and credible than “word of mouth.”
It is important that we as a community have a clear and consistent message that communicates our distinctiveness as a regional center. Defining what makes our community really different is the first step to success in community growth. Places leave a lasting impression on people – let’s be sure to leave a positive one.