Think advocacy marketing programs are just for brands and corporations? Think again! Some of our most successful advocacy programs are those that support cities, towns, chambers of commerce, and other municipal organizations. These municipalities drive economic development using advocacy marketing, working with their most engaged citizenry to drive national awareness of their hometown. The result? More tourism, more interest from moving businesses, and more economic growth – the holy trifecta.
But First, A Refresher On Advocacy Marketing
A quick primer for anyone new to the term “advocacy marketing”. In an advocacy marketing program, your city-loving citizens join your program by linking their social media profiles. Once a part of the program, you’ll be able to share your latest content with your engaged citizens. They, in turn, share that content directly to their social media feeds – and with their own followers.
The average social media user is connected to over 600 people across a multitude of networks, so your city gets to benefit from increased exposure nationwide, without having to promote or boosts any posts.
More importantly, 92% of individuals trust word-of-mouth recommendations, making it one of the most trust-rich forms of advertising. Frankly put, people are going to pay more attention to messages shared by fellow citizens than by city officials.
Advocacy marketing programs give your citizens a way to brag about where they live. Never underestimate a citizen’s desire to “win” on social media.
How To Drive Economic Development Using Advocacy Marketing
The first question we hear when we begin to talk to local governments or municipal bodies is: What can we promote through our advocacy marketing program?
The short answer: anything and everything!
Seriously though, as a city or municipal organization, you can publish any piece of content that supports the goal of your advocacy program. We’ve worked with several cities and organizations throughout the years, and we’ve compiled a few of our favorite executed strategies to help illustrate what’s possible with an advocacy marketing program.
Example Goal #1: Spur New Job Creation and Lure New Corporations/Businesses to Your Town
If your goal is to grow your job count, use your advocates to share and produce content that highlights:
- Business friendly policies
- New job announcements
- Real estate locations that are perfect for businesses
- Success stories that showcase business growth
Example Goal #2: Promote a Newly Revitalized Downtown or Other City Neighborhood
Have you recently made a large investment in revitalizing your downtown? Build awareness and excitement to that revitalized area by creating content that spotlights:
- City-sponsored festivals and events
- New restaurant openings
- Local shops
- The launching of new breweries/wineries/distilleries
Example Goal #3: Keep Your Eye on the Tourism Prize
Remember, your advocates are connected to friends and family nationwide! Publish content that:
- Showcases major tourist attractions in and around your city
- Talks about annual festivals
- Highlights restaurants, inns, and other local destinations
Can’t decide on a single strategy, hit all three with a publishing strategy that attracts businesses while at the same time shows off your city to would-be tourists.
How To Recruit Citizens Into Your Advocacy Marketing Program
Once you have your strategy identified, it’s time to rally the troops. For tips on recruiting citizens as ambassadors, we’re going to take a closer look at the Arlington, TX “Dream Team” social ambassador program. This program is essentially a masterclass in driving citizen recruitment. You can read a full review of their recruitment process here, but the highlights are below.
1) Launch with a Bang
Don’t launch your program in the dark!
You need to announce your advocacy program as the big deal it is. You should communicate that becoming a community ambassador is fun, exciting, and worth your citizens time. Arlington does this through a killer recruitment video that not only highlights the city, but breaks down the program and answers the most important question your citizens are asking – “Why should I join?”
2) Use Local Celebrity Figures to “Sell” the Program
Watching the Arlington video, one thing becomes crystal clear: they got some major local names to be a part of their efforts, including the mayor, local firemen, community leaders, news anchors, and even athletes. By leveraging these heavy hitters, they added a level of legitimacy to the program.
3) Communicate the Fun
After a busy week at work, the last thing your citizens want to do is MORE WORK. Make sure when you’re recruiting your citizenry, you’re telling them about how much fun they’ll have as part of the program.
Hit the highlights, communicate how easy it is to join and how simple it is to share content. Use imagery that shows people smiling and having a good time. Make sure your calls-to-action to join the program are succinct. The more fun the program looks, the greater the appeal it will have to would-be advocates.
Successful Advocate Programs Know They Must Give To Get
Your citizens are donating their social media feeds (and time) to promoting your great city. To keep them engaged over the long haul, be sure the program has incentives tied to high-performers. A little thank you can go a long way towards making sure your citizens stay engaged with your program.
A general rule of thumb, your prizing should relate in some way to your hometown. Sure, who doesn’t want a new flat-screen TV, but unless you have a flat-screen TV factory in your town, consider instead:
- Concert tickets to local events
- Gift cards to famed local restaurants
- Shopping sprees at local shops
- Private brewery/distillery tours
- Tickets to major tourist attractions
Think gift cards are too impersonal? Some of our favorite city programs hold monthly or quarterly invite-only events for their advocates. The events are an easy way for the city to thank a large group of advocates at once. And who doesn’t a love a good party? It’s also a way to reinforce the community nature of the program.
SocialToaster: Your (Advocacy) Home Away From Home
Hometown pride is a powerful tool. By implementing an advocacy marketing program, you are empowering your top citizens to share with the world what makes your city the best around.