The Four Ps of Place Marketing

Leave one out and your effort may fail

By: Jim Walton, CEO, Brand Acceleration, Inc.

In 1960, marketing professor Edmund Jerome McCarthy introduced the marketing mix, or 4 Ps, as a method of focusing marketing on the needs of a target market. Specifically, he determined that in order for a marketing effort to succeed, marketers must look closely at product, price, place, and promotion.

As economic developers, our success relies on the same mix. In our industry, though, we have internal and external audiences, each having very high and different expectations.

Internal audiences, such as elected officials, boards, investors, and residents, expect their economic developer to manage community improvements and marketing efforts that attract investment and jobs, improving life for all.

External audiences, such as corporate executives, real estate professionals, and site location consultants expect (no, demand) an educated workforce, affordable and available sites and buildings, affordable utilities, and connectivity to move raw materials and finished goods.

Economic developers strive to manage and satisfy the expectations of all audiences, successfully growing the area’s economy, a huge and daunting challenge.


Recently, I attended a presentation by friend and advisor Eric Canada of Blane-Canada, where he spoke of the crucial balance of workforce development, land, sites, buildings, and other infrastructure required to attract jobs and investment. Speaking to an enthusiastic crowd of area stakeholders, he explained that every piece of community development must be precisely orchestrated in order to compete in the global marketplace. Compared to the thousands of communities vying for a relatively few jobs projects, only the most prepared will have a chance of winning.


Also a delicate balancing act, price is a very important factor in attracting projects. Affordable sites, buildings, utilities, taxes, and labor costs provide an attractive mix for attraction and expansion projects. On the flip side, if a community promotes its cheap labor costs, it may attract bottom feeders that may pull up stakes and move away when costs begin the creep up. A fair middle ground is a more desirable pitch.


In the economic development industry, we more often refer to quality of life as a description of our place. Schools, parks, shopping, dining, and affordable housing play a key role in attracting and retaining a happy and attractive workforce. Today, with unemployment rates declining, many communities are turning their efforts toward the development of a place that is attractive to a young and educated labor force.


With the first three Ps firmly established, the fourth P, promotion, is vitally important. You may have an outstanding workforce, beautiful buildings, and a very desirable living environment, but if no one knows it, you may be virtually non-existent. You must tell your story.

Considering the previously-mentioned audiences, and your target industries (I hope you have a well-thought-out target industry list), a highly-targeted marketing strategy consists of a smart investment in communications tactics that effectively grow your community’s brand.

Of course, you must have a powerful website, built by a firm that specializes in economic development marketing. After that, tools such as email marketing, social media marketing, online advertising, site visit videos, mission trips, and brochures play a key role in getting your word out.

Sadly, many places ignore, or underfund, the promotion P. In most cases, I believe, it’s because they just don’t know where to start. I know, the costs can be a bit frightening, but failing to promote at all should not be an option. That’s why we are so passionate about the development of highly-targeted promotional efforts. With limited budgets, every dollar invested must accomplish its intended goal.

At Brand Acceleration, we know that we can’t do everything. We’re very good at marketing communications, but other services are often needed. That’s why we’ve established a stellar group of allied services providers that we are proud to refer. From workforce development to site assessment, fundraising, lead generation, and other important services, we can direct you to the ideal team.

There’s a fifth, and very important, P, and that’s professionalism. The Brand Acceleration team of marketing professionals is ready to go to work for you. We’re dedicated to being a trusted part of your marketing team, bringing solid professional counsel that will help you. If this sounds attractive to you, I hope you’ll give me a call.

Have a wonderful and successful week,