Red Sage Provides Insight on Community Marketing Post-COVID-19

SEDC Zoom Call

Decatur & Huntsville, AL – COVID-19 has changed the way we live day-to-day and also how businesses, organizations and communities market and reach their audiences. Red Sage Communications’ Senior Marketing Specialist, Sarah Macaluso, was asked to be a part of the Southern Economic Development Council’s (SEDC) Post-COVID-19 Community Marketing Webinar to discuss these changes.

What challenges are communities and economic developers facing?

As if it wasn’t difficult enough to market your community or recruit industry against thousands of other communities across the country, COVID-19 just made it a little more challenging. The pandemic has completely derailed some of the traditional community marketing approaches most widely practiced. For example, site visits with consultants or target industries are rarely taking place in person. Community leaders are forced to explore innovative ways to showcase their sites, buildings and communities virtually. Aside from recruiting new business, another challenge includes supporting existing small businesses that are experiencing a huge hit during this time. To help these organizations, community and economic development leaders can be the source to find relief information. We’ll talk in detail about these opportunities and more later on…

Community marketing strategies during COVID-19

As we mentioned, there are certainly strategies and tactics that have shifted during this time, but some remain relevant amid COVID-19. We’ll dive into some of our featured strategies below.

Branding

Your community brand remains a strong cornerstone in how you market your community. A brand represents the tangible and intangible qualities a community possesses. Ideally, these qualities capture the essence of a community and how you see your community in the next 10 years or so. Through COVID-19, having a strong brand could arguably be even more important. During times of divide and difficulty, a brand is something your community can find unity in. This time also may provide an opportunity to adapt the brand for COVID-related initiatives specifically. Build on the strength of your community brand to propel your area into the reopening and recovery phase, together.

Digital First 

A digital first mentality is a requirement during COVID-19. For example, re-evaluate the print materials you planned on developing and think about the digital application. You could send your annual report electronically, rather than printing and sending via snail mail. Re-evaluate your marketing plan and reconfigure where you can spend your time and resources, and shift to digital. A few notes… spend more time refining your website making sure it’s tailored to your target audiences, be active on key social media platforms, invest in video assets to visually and virtually showcase your community, and look into virtual walk-throughs for site visits. This is just the short list, but when in doubt… think digital.

Support Small Business

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 55 % of small businesses believe it will take six months to a year before the U.S. business climate returns to normal. Community leaders can help their small businesses during this time of re-opening. Red Sage is offering a digital directory solution dedicated to this effort. The “Shop Local” website features local restaurants and merchants making it easier for your community to shop local, support favorite merchants, and discover new ones you may not have realized were there.

The website allows for merchants to offer gift cards or setup ways to donate money to support their staff members and keep things going. This is particularly helpful to small businesses that may not have a website or any digital presence. This is one way community leaders can be a catalyst in the re-opening effort in their own cities and towns, as well as ignite business in your local economy.

Have a Plan 

Chances are you didn’t anticipate COVID-19.

Investing time to develop an annual strategic marketing plan makes navigating change much less painful. Make sure you have a plan that outlines long and short term communications and marketing goals, in-house and outsourced resources, planned activities and how to adapt when things change. You are much more effective and efficient with time when you have a plan, even if you have to change directions on the fly.

Need help?

Partnering with Red Sage gives you access to highly skilled professionals in every area of marketing and website development. Our expertise in economic development and community marketing plus our well-rounded knowledge of broad marketing strategy gives you a major advantage. If you’d like to discuss what’s possible and how we could help, you can send us an email at info@redsageonline.com.

community marketing, COVID-19, economic development, Economic development marketing, Red Sage, SEDC

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