If you had to grade your marketing efforts this year, what would you give yourself? Did your economic development organization blow it out of the water, or were your marketing efforts somewhat lackluster due to decreased budget or resources? Whatever your situation, it's important to reflect on what you did well, and what should be improved upon for next year. And while we realize that 2016 isn't over, starting this process before the end of the year will allow you to jump start your 2017 efforts as soon as January 1.
If you're unsure about your performance from the past 10 months, that's okay too. And if you're one of many economic developers in this situation, it's the perfect place to start your process of discovery. First and foremost, you have to uncover what it is you're doing from a marketing perspective. Is it email marketing? Social media marketing? Print ads? Digital ads? Content marketing? In-person events? Tradeshows? Community tours? Maybe a combination of some or all of the above? Understanding what you're doing is priority #1.
Once you have mastery of your EDO's marketing endeavors, it's time to uncover the channels through which your marketing is deployed. In other words, how are your messages being delivered to your audiences? Does your organization use an email marketing software program to send emails? Does your EDO employ a marketing automation tool to schedule, post, and monitor blog articles? Are you using Google's Display Network to place and track display ads? Do you utilize some kind of internal software to track leads created from in-person events and tradeshows?
After you've defined your channels, next comes the process of understanding how each program and initiative is performing. This can be an arduous task if you've never done it before, but it's essential if you ever want to improve your performance and see better, more impactful marketing in the future. Gathering baseline data and metrics will tell you if your efforts are yielding positive results (e.g. opens, clicks, impressions, conversions), or if they're falling flat. This phase is really crucial in knowing if small tweaks or big changes are needed to certain campaigns, or if staying the course is the best plan of action. Either way, it's imperative to have 100% transparency into your marketing activities at all times.
Utilizing data and metrics in conjunction with your EDO's marketing strategies gives your organization a better focus, a better vision, and the ability to make better decisions for the future. Understanding and applying metrics can pave the way toward high performance in the industry, and getting there isn’t strenuous, but does take focus and dedication. And remember, it's never too late to start tracking your efforts.
If you're without the proper resources or tools to really dig in and understand the impact your marketing is making on your organization and community, we can help. Our free marketing assessment and grade can tell you everything you need to know about your own marketing. Bottom line is that we do the leg work for you, and it's free. It's the best way to wrap up this year, and start ahead of the game in 2017.