By Lisa LaMere, Professional in Residence
With today’s uncertain business environment, competition for retailers has never been greater. Therefore, economic development professionals must proactively promote their communities as ideal locations for retail business by using every marketing strategy within their means.
Most communities, before they ever begin any form of retail recruitment, have already established some basic marketing practices and at a minimum may have an online presence in the form of their website. Many may have Facebook accounts, while some also utilize other digital marketing channels such as blogs, Twitter, Instagram, Constant Contact, LinkedIn, or YouTube.
Marketing a community or region using digital means is now a necessary method in reaching out to the community’s targeted industries and allows economic development staff to promote their community and trade market area.
However, in addition to digital marketing, traditional print media can be useful. Producing print collateral that sells your community as a retail business-friendly location means creating content that highlights the assets most desired by the retail, restaurant, hospitality, retail medical, and service sectors.
In advance of contacting potential retailers, you should have assembled the data and intel needed to provide a compelling story of your community, trade market area, and attributes. Much of this content already should be on your website. Buxton’s SCOUT platform is an excellent resource for marketable data and analytics to develop a community’s narrative.
Think Like a Retailer
To appeal to many audiences at once, most communities mistakenly produce brochures that are too general in scope. To pique the interest of retailers, marketing materials must be very retail focused, so think like a retailer.
Most retailers and site location consultants typically don’t need to know, for example, about your city’s animal shelter remodel or the details of your library expansion. Here are six topics that will be on any site selector’s radar
As noted below, summarize for both the trade area and the community. As much as possible, use infographics. Include full demographics in PDFs on your website.
- Population: Include daytime population and nighttime population in entertainment districts.
- Educational attainment levels (percentage of total college participation)
- Median and average household incomes
- Households and home ownership (percentage of owner-occupied)
- Median age
2. Overall Trade Potential/Leakage by Category
3. Trade Area Map
Include drive-times not radius miles.
4. Traffic Counts
Your state department of transportation or Buxton may have average daily traffic counts, or hire a traffic survey company.
5. Available Sites
Market your trade area but sell the sites in your city. Include 3-5 sites of vacant land, vacant buildings, or proposed retail centers that you will help promote. Use high resolution images.
- Identify projects or centers by name.
- Pinpoint retailers in proximity by using logos.
6. Quality of Life
Space permitting, list colleges, hotels, downtown activity, and new homes construction in your city. Retail still follows rooftops!
Finally, testimonials are a good addition to any of your marketing material. Let others help sell your community. Request testimonials from new and existing retailers as well as community stakeholders, developers, and brokers.
You Don’t Need to be a Graphic Designer
If budget allows, hire a graphic artist or marketing agency to produce your print collateral. However, staff at communities with minimal financial resources have also successfully produced well-designed and informative print material. Another option might be asking a college student to volunteer their artistic services. A brochure printed double-sided on an 11x17” sheet of paper yields four 8-1/2x11” pages. If printed in-house, this material can quickly be revised as needed, so keep print runs to a minimum.
The adage that a picture is worth a thousand words holds true today. If you’re able, hire a photographer, but a digital camera or smart phone in the hands of a staff person with a good eye for detail and composition can give good results if the images are high resolution.
Do not design your brochure like a flyer. Do not use all caps or large fonts. Use 11- or 12-point fonts except for headings. People will skim your brochure before reading, so make your content easy to scan by keeping paragraphs short amidst plenty of “white space.”
Use consistent branding/colors/logos and include contact details. Source and date your data (Source: Buxton, 2019 or 2010 Census).
Ensure that these brochures are in electronic format and of a file size that won’t bounce back when emailed to prospects. Use them during on-the-fly meetings in-house or during local events and trade shows. Display brochures in chambers of commerce and city hall. Provide council members and other city staff with copies. Post to your website and use in your social media efforts.
Provide Comprehensive, Current, and Targeted Content
These tips are not all-encompassing but are simply meant to ensure you have well-rounded marketing collateral. Many of these tips are similarly important for industrial attraction. Regardless of what your recruitment focus is, make sure the content you provide is comprehensive, current, and targeted.
Want more resources on optimizing your marketing materials for retail development? You may also enjoy our blog post, “Is Your Website Site Selector Ready?”