What Is the Quad Cities Marketing? Print
News/Features - Local News
Tuesday, 02 August 2005 18:00
(Editor’s note: This is the first of a monthly series discussing various Quad Cities’ marketing efforts.) There is a marketing axiom stating that marketing can’t make you something you’re not. All it can do is make sure you’re known for what you are.

If that little marketing tidbit is true, then what should the Quad Cities market and to whom in order to grow? It’s certainly sound strategy to target (a) business expansions from local businesses, (b) business startups from a wide Midwestern region, (c) expansions of businesses located elsewhere, and (d) relocations. But these strategies raise a lot of questions: Where do you go? how do you find businesses who are considering relocating? And do you market everywhere and hope they find you?

Tough decisions have to be made, but target markets, points of uniquenesses, and benefits of business and personal lifestyles have to be identified. And they have to be true; marketing cannot make anything something it’s not, despite what most ad agencies claim. And once a plan is developed, it has to be implemented.

This week’s column discusses “community” marketing. Clearly, the most assertive is Rock Island. It recently launched an admirable campaign to attract residents and businesses. It conducted the necessary research to identify its “brand,” something most communities don’t do. It identified eight attributes of the city, which clearly adheres to the marketing theory of reflecting what you are.

Those eight points are: It offers a welcoming environment; it has an entrepreneurial spirit; it celebrates diversity; it offers a wide range of housing options; it features innovative public and private schooling; it has a strong recreational arm; it has exceptional city services; and it is the regional leader in downtown development.

Then, Rock Island developed a series of print ads (seen in the Reader) and a new Web site (http://www.LiveRI.com), and it’s working on a continuity campaign for all businesses, schools, and other civic organizations to tie parallel outside but aligned energies and efforts so one brand is created. This is so intelligent it borders on frightening, and others need to learn from this effort.

The only downside is the lack of a measurable benchmark as a reflection of my belief that one should “begin with the end in mind,” which I admirably borrowed from business guru Stephen Covey. The goal with this campaign is to attract people and businesses, but I prefer that numbers be put into place. Unfortunately, some marketing people get squeamish around measurability.

Nevertheless, this campaign is tight, and other communities can look to it as a model of (a) doing it right, (b) thinking (and testing) before spending money, and (c) playing within one’s capabilities. Rock Island isn’t trying to move Kansas City in; it’s just trying to attract local businesses. Ironically, those will probably come from other Quad Cities communities. Good for you, Rock Island.

Meanwhile, we don’t see much happening in the Davenport campaign called “Go Davenport,” unleashed in early 2003, but to be fair, I’ll go talk to those folks. Logging on to what was supposed to be the Web site (http://www.GoDavenport.com) redirects the user to a Quad Cities visitor guide.

Davenport features endless territory and its own features and benefits. But where is the market research identifying uniquenesses? Where is the outbound campaign? Where is the testing? Where is the campaign? In the campaign’s infancy, we were promised by DavenportOne, the school district, and city leaders that they would attract business. Have they? Where are their ads? Where do they spend their money? Whom do they target? We’ll get back to you with a report card.

Then, we’ll get the perspective from the king of Quad Cities marketers, the Quad City Development Group, established in 1961 to take a unified Quad Cities brand to the nation.

And stay tuned for how the recently released Blueprint 2010 is going to be taken to market by the Illinois Quad City Chamber of Commerce. And we’ll check in to see how the city of Bettendorf is doing in its continuing quest to bulldoze between the one-ways and replace darkened doorways with progress.

David C. Aeschliman is the CEO of Results IMC, Inc., a comprehensive sales and marketing firm offering its clients strategic growth plans and implementation on pay-for-performance arrangements. For more information about Results, visit (http://www.resultsimc.com).