Economic Development Marketing: The Country Club Effect

According to Janet Miller, former Nashville Chamber of Commerce CEO, “People in powerful positions want to be in a room with other people in powerful positions”. In the Economic Development industry, this idea is what they call “The Country Club Effect” (And we have a feeling this idea can apply to more than just industry top guns). This is just one of the many gems we learned from our lunch and learn at North Star with Janet. 

In the realm of economic development, Nashville wasn’t competing 25 years ago. Then the Chamber transformed the way they made decisions and the way they connected. Today, site selectors who are looking at Dallas, Texas are also considering Nashville. As seen in Forbes’ America’s 10 Fastest-Growing Cities, Nashville ranks right up there with Dallas-Fort Worth. Both cities have enjoyed a population growth of over 20% from 2000 to 2010. So what changed? 

They started letting the industry-specific experts make the decisions, and they started spending the majority of their marketing dollars on face-to-face interaction. Instead of looking to research and best guesses, the Chamber pulled a group of about 20 of the most influential people in the music industry, gathered them all in a room, sat with them, and came up with a list of businesses that actually make sense in Nashville. And those were the businesses they then pursued.

Make use of the resources that are right in front of you. Most of the time, those resources will be glad to lend their minds. 

It’s worthwhile to seek out the wonderful human assets who call your community home. Empower them, give them the tools to set their know-how free, and ultimately benefit the community in an inspiring way. Make the people in your backyard happy, and they will serve as advocates of your community.  As Janet said, “Economic development is all about relationships, internal and external.  And the word on the street regarding your community is infinitely more important than all the advertising in the world.”

What resources do you have at hand that you may be overlooking? Schedule time to discuss how to leverage your existing economic development marketing assets.