Ft. Wayne moves toward regional marketing

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Last week, civic leaders in Ft. Wayne agreed to support a regional approach to marketing. The focal point is a five year $6 million marketing plan. Read more.

It's unfortunate that Ft. Wayne's first regional initiative will be marketing. That's the hardest area of economic development in which to build regional focus. First, marketing often focuses on logos and graphics. These efforts often do not deal with the underlying sense of identity and ownership that organizations and communities build up over the years. These mental models need to shift. Before you act like a region, you need to think like a region. (In some regions economic development strategy is hobbled by high school football rivalries.)

Second, at the ground level, recruitment is a zero sum game. A prospect can either go to county A or county B. From a regional perspective, it makes no difference. But from a local political perspective, it makes a lot of difference. Managing these tensions requires high levels of trust at the operational level. At the end of the day, EDPros have to work together.

Third, even if all goes well with the branding and the operations, the results of marketing will be uneven in the region. Companies will tend to cluster. Managing the tensions of "Who pays what?" and "Who gets what?" is tough. Inter-jurisdictional revenue sharing agreements can help mitigate these problems, but these agreements are relatively rare.

posted by Ed Morrison |

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