4 Marketing Tips for Economic Development

As Sacramento grows into the next tier of destination cities, the spread of property-based business improvement districts (PBIDs) and economic development organizations have been crucial to its revitalization success. Many articles have been written acknowledging the benefit of PBIDs, but for those who manage the PBID, aligning your mission between stakeholders and residents can often be challenging without a sound marketing strategy.

Although most business owners are familiar with economic development, the concept of a PBID is relatively new and most community members don’t know what it is or what they do. In short, a PBID is an organization of landowners working together to improve the areas surrounding their property by attracting new customers and businesses. The Progressive Urban Management Associates put together a helpful fact-sheet of what PBIDs do.

The purpose of the PBID is to improve the visitor experience in your district. They do this by providing security, clean up and maintenance, infrastructure improvements, event coordination and marketing for the district. These services are paid for through an assessment on properties being served and are managed by a non-profit corporation created by the property owners.

Why market your PBID/Economic Development Firm?

Outside of the property owners themselves, the majority of businesses and residents in the business district being served don’t understand the benefits of their PBID. In fact, without effective branding or marketing, business owners renting the property and the residents who live within districts lines, may feel excluded or neglected in the PBID’s decision-making process, even though they benefit the most from the services offered.

Creating a dedicated brand and marketing strategy to align the PBID with the community it serves can create a clear and beneficial union between all people invested in the district. This union typically evolves into one powerful, influential voice representing the neighborhood’s best interests when working with the city’s governmental entities.

The following are four best practices to marketing your PBID

1. Know your audience

When researching how to best position your PBID in the community, there are a couple of key questions you should ask:

  • Who will receive the PBID messaging?
  • Who should the branding and marketing influence?
  • What do stakeholders need to be aware of?
  • What services does the PBID offer?
  • What services aren’t offered by the organization?
  • How is the PBID connected to the community it serves?

Answering these questions will give you a healthy starting point to begin creating your brand. Knowing exactly the type of businesses and demographics of the residents you are serving will greatly improve the success of your PBID messaging resonating with your audience. If you live in a bigger city, take the time to study other PBIDs within the region and determine similarities in value added and unique offerings your PBID provides.

2. Brand your neighborhood

The next step is to develop your brand. Working with key influencers in your community, the PBID needs to identify how the district wants to be portrayed to potential new businesses or residents. This process involves looking at the future of the neighborhood and the values of the businesses and people who currently live or operate in the district.

Using this research, you can create a brand story about the PBID, which is specifically targeted to attracting your primary audiences to your district. By going through this brand development process, you’ll inevitably unearth high-level clues in the research to inform the brand design.

At the end of this process, make sure the desired branding accurately reflects your district’s values and personality, including color and language. PBID success is determined by how authentic they are in representing their community’s interests. Depending on the effectiveness of the brand, PBIDs can be perceived as a trusted community resource or the evil arm of property owner self-interest.

One example of a reinvented neighborhood brand is the Power Inn Alliance.

3. Use a brand style guide to streamline brand perception

Once you land upon a brand and message that not only resonates with your audiences, but also fosters a sense of regional pride, you can protect your newfound brand equity by creating a full brand style guide.

The style guide will include a complete logo suite, including multiple versions of the logo in a variety of file types, each ready to be used in a wide array of marketing collateral.

This will ensure your identity and the value your brand holds is preserved no matter how businesses or property owners use it for promotional purposes. The universal use of consistent branding among all stakeholders will greatly increase the value of the PBID brand.

While not the most exciting piece of content, a brand style guide helps all parties spread the same message. A great example of a PBID with an effective brand style guide is Midtown Association.

4. Strategic brand rollout

Now that your amazing PBID is ready to be showcased, be sure to take the same care and strategy used in its planning for its roll-out. Do this by creating a multi-phase approach to launch the new brand to stakeholders and the community. Align the launch of the new brand with local events and key public-facing materials.

Educate your brand ambassadors and district influencers about your target audiences and make sure they reinforce the brand values you lock-down during the development phase.

One example of a killer, community-focused brand rollout strategy is Washington Elementary.

If you follow the above best practices, we guarantee your PBID will not only be welcome but will also be celebrated by your stakeholders and your community.