One of the most common concerns in regions around the world, is the constant pressure and challenge of attracting new residents to the area. Especially rural areas struggle with a high number of citizens moving away. In the fight for attracting and keeping residents, the biggest geographical municipality in Denmark have been trying something new. Since the beginning of august, we have worked closely with Ringkøbing-Skjern Municipality in developing a new approach for attracting future residents. We especially enjoyed our nice dinner on the last night of our field study in the municipality.
Let me take you trough the main steps in the method and illustrate how we have created a marketing plan that target one specific group of people.
Creating a targeted marketing plan
It is well-known that marketing activities becomes much more successful when they are focused and can be directed towards a specific group of people. In this project we took this thought a step further and focused both on a very small geographical area and very narrow target group. The region that we wanted to market is a small city with around 4000 citizens and its surrounding smaller cities. Compared to the entire area of Ringkøbing-Skjern, this is a very small part of the municipality.
The original segment that we wanted to market the geographical area to, was identified through statistical data suggesting that this particular group of people were most likely to move. We further narrowed down the segment through anthropological methods that allowed us to investigate their preferences and behavior. Based on these insights, we deselected some sub-segments and found that the sub-segment we ended up with is highly influenced by their relations and their associations. By constantly narrowing down the original segment, we eventually ended up with a very small target group consisting of around 500 people. By focusing on one particular segment, we were able to create relevant activities and communication that increases the likelihood of a successful marketing effort.
1. Mapping the strengths of the region
As the first step in developing the marketing plan, we spent 3 days in the selected region. Here we conducted an anthropological study including a series of anthropological interviews and spent a great deal of participation and observation in the area. My colleagues Nikolaj and Anna had dinners with some of the participants and went on guided tours around the city with the locals. These exercises and activities allowed us to dive deeper into the strengths of the area and gave us a clear idea of what we could base the future marketing plan on.
2. Getting to know the target group
Once we got to know the region, we turned our focus towards the chosen segment. Here we also applied different anthropological techniques and exercises such as association games and co-analysis. Through these techniques we learned more about their current life situations as well as what they see as motivations and barriers in a moving situation. Based on these insights we were able to tell what they look for in a potential future hometown as well as how they perceive the area we wanted to market to them.
3. Developing a targeted marketing plan
Based on the insights from the two analyses, we developed a marketing plan that combines the best of both worlds; a plan based on the existing strengths of the area while tapping into the needs and wants of the target group.
Rethinking place branding
The marketing plan differs from the traditional way of working with place branding. Based on insights from the target group, the plan primarily focus on improving the “product” of the region. This does not mean that the region should try to be something that it is not, but rather that some of the existing strengths should be nourished and developed to reach their full potential. As we learned that the target group is highly influenced by their relations, the plan aims at changing the perception of both the target group and their relations.
Learn more about how place branding also involves improving the “product” of the place in professor Gregory Ashworth’s presentation from our Kommunebranding14 conference.