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From ICMA - Making Cities Livable Through Place Marketing

ICMA, the International City/County Management Association in the United States, develops and advances professional local government management to create sustainable communities. This is one of the articles they published on place marketing: now more than ever, communities must think, plan, and act on their futures or be left behind in the new era of place wars. During the past 20 years, the durable lesson of places seeking to improve themselves is that all places are in trouble, or will be in the foreseeable future. Therefore, the economic stability and liveability of any place requires the community to ask why anyone would want to live, relocate, visit, invest, start, or expand a business there. In other words, what does the community, or place, have that people want or need?

Using an innovative teaching method to help a city resolve its dilemma’s

This article focuses on an interdisciplinary partnership between two institutions of higher learning that used an innovative teaching method to help a city resolve this dilemma. Students from Minnesota State University’s Urban and Regional Studies Institute, located in Mankato, Minnesota, and students from South Central College, located in North Mankato, worked with and actively engaged the small city of Janesville, Minnesota (population 2,193), in developing the first component of a strategic place-marketing plan.

Respond to the challenge of intensifying place competition

This type of plan is a proactive way for communities to respond to the challenge of intensifying place competition. It can be a guiding force in helping to develop a community’s future by maximizing the efficient social and economic functioning of a place in accordance with the broader goals. As sellers of products, places can use this planning method to better understand who they are and what they can be. This kind of initiative also represents academia at its best: resource use is maximized while both student and public interests are served simultaneously.

Selling a place is not like selling a product

It is one thing to come up with an ad campaign for cars or cereal and quite another to come up with a marketing campaign for a place. A commonality, however, is that communities, like products, must show their excellence to compete. For example, the infrastructure, industries, attractions, and workforce skills that are built today will affect tomorrow’s market position.

Strategic market planning

To do this, communities must develop and carry out what can be viewed as a planning methodology. Rather than turning to planning in hard times, places must adopt planning to avoid them. Even small places can find their own market niche where they can claim superiority over other places through an approach known as strategic market planning (SMP). SMP can be broken down into four components:

  • Place-identity
  • Place-products
  • Place-buyers
  • Place-sellers


An important aspect of SMP is that it is proactive, not reactive. This methodology, therefore, is a powerful tool for communities to use in responding to the challenge of intensifying place competition. It can also help to develop a community’s future by making the most of the efficient social and economic functioning of a place in accordance with the wider goals established—the community’s master plan. As sellers of products, places can use this planning method to better understand how to identify future opportunities and threats.

Opportunities and Threats

According to the strategic marketing theorem, strengths and weaknesses are internal, while opportunities and threats are external. An opportunity is when a place has a good chance to achieve a competitive edge, followed by a plan of action. Threats are categorized as major, moderate, or minor. A major threat has both a high probability of happening and impacting a place negatively. A moderate threat has either a high probability of happening or having a negative impact, but not both. A minor threat has low probability of happening and would have little effect on the place.

A case study was done in Janesville, Minnesota. You can read all about how SMP was used in Janesville as well as the rest of this article titled ‘Making Cities Livalble Through Place Marketing’ on the ICMA website.

 

Conclusion: Cities do not become livable and remain viable by resting on past accomplishments

The key to building sustainable, livable cities is to educate and nurture steward and stakeholder partnerships within and between educational institutions and the place in which they coexist.
Learning and investment can and should extend far beyond the classroom and into the community where we spend our lives. In this way, we not only make our communities livable, we invest ourselves in the philosophy that we deserve livable communities and owe ourselves the commitment to participate in the process of ensuring that our cities grow and prosper in every way.


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