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Using Your Downtime Efficiently in the Face of Trade Show Postponements: Keep Calm and Keep Marketing!

By Lisa LaMere, Buxton Professional in Residence

Buxton remains committed to providing world-class data analyses and resources, even during these uncertain times of social distancing and event cancellations prompted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Many communities across the country have been gearing up for the International Council of Shopping Centers’ (ICSC) May event – RECon – held annually in Las Vegas. Historically attended by more than 30,000 participants, RECon has been postponed. Other ICSC regional events have likewise been postponed, as have the France Media hosted InterFace conferences from San Diego to the Carolinas.

In an abundance of caution, many offices across the nation also may be temporarily shuttered with employees working from home. City Hall may be working with skeleton crews, and real estate and site selection consultants may be short-staffed with travel suspended.

During this downtime, we certainly can’t enjoy our favorite sporting events and many have chosen to spend spring break at home. But does this mean your attraction efforts should be put on hold? Do you lose momentum because you can’t attend a trade show? Or do you binge-watch your favorite Netflix shows from last season?

We want to help you explore several ways of maintaining your relationships and connecting with your prospects and leads so that you are positioned for success after this COVID-19 outbreak has run its course.

The following nine tips may prove useful to you in getting ahead of your competition, staying top of mind with your prospects and using your downtime efficiently to catch up on some tasks that have sat too long on the back burner. You'll stay top-of-mind while adding value and building your reputation as a trusted economic development professional by continuing to reach out to parties interested in a location in your community even during these trying times.

Checklist for Making the Most of Your COVID-19 Downtime

Tip #1: Refine marketing collateral

  • Reformat all materials for easy electronic delivery
  • Save to flash drives and load on your website
  • Gather testimonials
  • Design an infographic with your community’s demographics
  • Brainstorm a new tag line for your community

Tip #2: Update your website

  • Make sure it’s retail-targeted with search capabilities
  • Do a thorough housecleaning. Check every link to confirm that it is not broken
  • Provide status updates for any projects started 3-4 months prior; retailers and residents want to see progress
  • Archive any data older than three years

Tip #3: Conduct an inventory search for viable vacant land or buildings

  • Update listings
  • Add new available properties
  • Delete any listings that are no longer available or that have new representation

Tip #4: Develop or update property profiles to use in marketing and as site proposals

  • Add details such as retail potential, traffic counts or consumer propensity findings
  • Revise information regarding new infrastructure construction or include leakage information for the specific target retail category, new housing development stats, and other retail openings or new industries present

Tip #5: Craft PowerPoint presentations that can be customized for future meetings

  • Add retail sales potential within a defined drive time trade area for each site
  • Depict any new retailers or restaurants in close proximity to the location
  • Note any new construction

Tip #6: Polish your elevator pitch

  • Don’t bury the lead
  • Practice until it’s second nature

Tip #7: Provide a thorough progress report on your attraction efforts

  • Deliver to council members and stakeholders
  • Pitch stories to local news media and national publications
  • Instead of seeking speaking engagements, contribute articles to local organizations’ websites, blogs and newsletters

Tip #8: Design a retailer or restaurant survey for your residents to provide input on whom they would like to see in the community

  • Collect additional data such as residential tenure, age, income and household makeup
  • Determine where they currently shop and eat

Tip #9: Schedule email blasts

  • Consider using Constant Contact or Mailchimp to connect with your database of stakeholders, local retailers and prospects. Let them know your plans regarding events that have been postponed
  • Invite your contacts to stay in touch with you should they have any requests for information during this time

For more tips on how to optimize your retail recruitment process, watch our webinar, The Expert’s Playbook to Retail Recruitment Campaigns.

Journey Awareness Persona Economic Development/Elected Official City Government