Conversations with North Star, Part 5, Marketing Your Brand

Looking back to part 4 of our ‘Conversations with North Star’ series, Director of Strategic Communications Tyler Holder shared recommendations for the vital task of introducing your brand to your community and achieving buy-in. 

Once this phase is completed and the brand is out in the marketplace, you can’t let the momentum fizzle out. Part 5 of our series features our President Will Ketchum, where he offers insight into how communities can build a marketing program that raises awareness and achieves important objectives.

How does place marketing differ from business or product marketing?

When making a move, taking a job or planning a visit, there’s much more at stake for the consumer than when buying a product or service from a business. The decision will drastically affect his or her life and livelihood, or make-or-break a long-awaited vacation that could be the ‘first date’ to a future move.

While there’s more on the line, the approach to the marketing itself is quite similar. Ultimately, we have to intersect the target audiences where they are looking, with the right message at the right time. 

While the exact strategy and deliverables vary, the process is no different for marketing to individuals looking for a new community, home or job, versus targeting people looking to buy a new set of golf clubs.

How does a community maintain awareness, interest and engagement with the brand over time? 

Community marketers should focus on three areas: consistent effort, wide application and making the brand a long-term guidepost for community decision making. 

The first two are simple but require ongoing and strategic attention. Once the brand is introduced, you can’t ‘set it and forget it.’ Just like any marketing endeavor, you have to remain consistent. 

To supplement consistency, you must also establish a broad presence. For example, go beyond updating the website and business cards. Find ways to apply the brand three dimensionally and interactively throughout your community – whether it’s through communications, contests, murals, all of the above and much more.

Finally, a brand will achieve its maximum potential once it becomes the ethos of its community. It’s what you stand for, it guides your decision making, it’s what people can expect and experience when visiting – a concept much deeper than a logo and tagline. 

In other words, the brand is a driving force for how the community carries itself toward its preferred future. If a community’s brand was built on its creativity, then every decision or initiative needs to be fostered with creative approaches, tactics or solutions. The brand must be integrated into your community’s way of life in creative ways.

What are some of the best marketing tactics you have seen deployed? Why did they work?

Every community we’ve supported, and the tactics each have deployed, are special in their own ways and have been successful because of it. At the highest level, marketing tactics that engage residents and visitors and offer longevity deliver some of the strongest outcomes. 

Some examples include ongoing art contests, annual music festivals, community landmarks and signature events. But with all of these, it’s vital to be authentic and align with your brand DNA. A music festival, public art installation or landmark might not be the right fit for you. Find an activation or initiative that matches your community’s spirit and proposition and will build excitement and interest among residents and visitors alike.

How does it feel to look back at all the communities you have supported over the years and see how they have successfully leveraged marketing to achieve their objective? 

It is gratifying to see how the brands and marketing programs we’ve helped develop contribute to getting communities closer to their preferred futures. It’s why we are in the business. ‘Community’ is what everyone seeks. It’s universal. Giving our clients a platform to further foster and strengthen that community is what keeps us going every day.

Building a brand and marketing it requires significant focus and force, and it delivers meaningful outcomes. Part of that process includes evaluating your marketing program and its metrics to ensure you are on the right path to making those outcomes a reality. 

In our final edition of ‘Conversations with North Star,’ we’ll focus on best practices for measuring program performance. If you’re ready to get your marketing journey started in the meantime, give us a call and let’s get it underway.