Results of the latest bi-annual survey of economic developers by Avalanche Consulting conducted in July shed light on where 108 economic development organizations (EDOs) focus their marketing activities and perceive the highest return on investment (ROI).
Marketing budgets are spread across a diverse set of activities – the top 3 being marketing missions, website/social media, and site consultant events.
The mix of activities is similar across all organization sizes, with some exceptions – medium and large communities spend significantly less on advertisements as a share of their total budget, and more on marketing missions, direct sales, and site consultant events.
Marketing activities seen to have the highest ROI were website/social media, marketing missions, and site consultant/real estate events. An EDO’s website is usually the first point of contact for a prospect to learn about a community and provides valuable real estate to communicate targeted marketing messages. Websites also have a lower cost compared to other marketing activities. Marketing missions and site consultant/real estate events provide valuable one-on-one communication with target audiences, making it another worthy investment for EDOs.
The marketing activities with the lowest ROI were advertisements and printed collateral. Advertisements tend to be very expensive and not highly targeted. Printed collateral is also costly and is losing popularity as more and more information becomes available online.
A large majority of local EDOs have at least one dedicated marketing staff member and a marketing budget under $100,000 a year. Only large communities (those with a population over 1 million) have marketing budgets above $1 million. In the past year, marketing budgets have generally increased, with 36% of EDOs reporting an increase and 18% reporting a decrease.