As a marketing strategist for Brand Acceleration, Colleen oversees brand identification and marketing program implementation for communities, counties, and regions in a 17-state territory. She frequently writes for the Brand Report which provides in-depth insight into site selection trends and a fresh perspective on economic development marketing. She also travels the country to speak about creative marketing, social media, and public relations.

She’s a regular attendee at state and regional economic development conferences and an active member of the Southern Economic Development Council, and the North Carolina Economic Development Association. Colleen is a graduate of the Basic Economic Development Course at her alma mater, Ball State University. She lives in Tampa, Florida.

Colleen delivers presentations on a variety of topics, including her most popular:

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Social Media

In this constantly updated presentation, Brand Coach Colleen Walton explores the most effective ways to incorporate social media into economic development marketing plans. She offers practical, actionable advice for curating quality content, identifying a social media voice, developing a social media calendar, and more. Professionals will come away with sound strategies for making social media more effective while keeping the process manageable.

Attendees will get answers to these questions:

  • How can social media support our marketing efforts?
  • Which social media platforms are effective, and which are a waste of time?
  • How can our small staff find time to generate useful content?
  • What social media mistakes do economic development professionals make?
Handling Controversy in a Rapidly Evolving Social Culture: How to Not Get Burned in the Dumpster Fire

Whether it’s controversial legislation, the handling (or mishandling) of a natural disaster, or a rabble-rousing politician, economic developers are often saddled with problems they don’t create. In some cases, these problems can greatly impact their ability to attract jobs projects to the state. We’ll never be free of controversies, so economic developers and their stakeholders need a plan for how to face them when they come.

In her latest presentation, Brand Coach Colleen Walton lays out the various ways to respond when controversy strikes. She explains the pros and cons of each method and gives economic developers the tools to create their own action plans.

Attendees will get answers to these questions:

  • How do we prepare for a controversy we don’t see coming?
  • How do we know which strategy is best for us?
  • How do we get everyone on board with our message?
Doing a Lot with a Little: How to Best Spend Your Marketing Dollars

Marketing resources – especially in a cash-strapped economic development department – can be hard to come by. While many people would love a top-to-bottom marketing overhaul, it’s not always a feasible option. So, when you have to choose which marketing elements to pursue, how do you decide? In this presentation, Brand Coach Colleen Walton pulls from her experience and lists her top five marketing musts. She explains the value of each marketing piece and demonstrates how it can fit into an overall marketing plan. Note: This hour-long presentation can be modified to a thirty-minute short program in which Colleen will present her top three marketing musts.

Attendees will get answers to these questions:

  • How do we decide where to start?
  • How can we fit existing pieces into our new marketing plan?
  • Which pieces are effective, and which are a waste of time?
Talent Attraction Marketing: How to Market to People Instead of Businesses

After years of concentrated focus on business attraction, many communities across the country find themselves with staggeringly low unemployment rates.  The shift to talent attraction marketing – trying to attract workers instead of jobs – can be daunting.  It requires economic developers to flex muscles they haven’t used in a decade, but it can pay off massively.

Attendees will get answers to these questions:

  • Who are my target audiences for talent attraction marketing?
  • How do I craft the right message for my target audiences?
  • What are the best channels for reaching potential workers and residents?
Mastering Your Community Pitch

Economic developers often find themselves in unanticipated face-to-face situations with just minutes to introduce themselves and tell their community story to corporate executives, site consultants, real estate professionals, or developers who have the power to influence investment and jobs projects that could dramatically impact a community.

In this power-packed presentation, Brand Coach Colleen Walton addresses the needs and expectations of each audience, explaining what they want to hear and how your competitors often waste their time and spoil valuable opportunities.

Attendees will get answers to these questions:

  • What is the first thing they want to hear from you?
  • When at an event, which people should you approach?
  • How do you create an effective thirty-second pitch?
  • What do they NOT want to hear from you?

Here are some of Colleen’s recent virtual presentations.

The Retail Coach Webinar:
Accelerating Your Economic Development Marketing Strategy

Colleen joined Charles Parker, Project Director at The Retail Coach, to discuss how communities can develop their own marketing strategies.  They walked participants through an activity to help them identify their objectives, audiences, assets, and best marketing tactics.  They also shared some advice on the best ways to use social media as a marketing tool.

The Difference Podcast: Marketing Your Community Now

This podcast episode tackles the important question of how and what to market amid the pandemic and the aftermath. Colleen joined Kristin Harper, Marketing Director for Convergent Nonprofit Solutions, to share stories, tips, and advice for communities looking to “build a new boat” as you’re thinking about recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.

Crystal Morphis, CEcD
Creative Economic Development Consulting
Founder and CEO

Colleen Walton did a great job presenting at the Women’s Economic Development Network forum, Learn and Lead 2017. She offered practical social media and marketing advice – things you could take back to the office and do. The audience was engaged and connected to what she was saying. I believe Colleen’s expertise would fit well into a wide range of conference programs, especially programs on marketing, new technologies, and communications strategies.

Paul Brehm_testimonial
Paul Brehm
Ohio Economic Development Association
Past President

Colleen Walton from Brand Acceleration, Inc. is a dynamic speaker who will add value to your event. Her presentation to our statewide conference on the value of social media in economic development was both entertaining and interesting. She demonstrated a clear understanding of our industry, showing how you can use social media to better promote your community, attract business investment, and even improve your workforce. Outstanding advice from a true professional who understands the challenges that face economic development professionals today.

Marcel Wagner_Quincy IL
Marcel W. Wagner, Jr., CEcD
Great River (Illinois) Economic Development Foundation

The Great River Economic Development Foundation was privileged to have Colleen Walton in Quincy, Illinois, to meet with our board and be the keynote speaker at our annual meeting. Colleen gave our audience of 300 business leaders an inspired presentation about what our community needs to do going forward to stay competitive, secure our existing industry, and cultivate the next generation workforce that will be required. I would highly recommend Colleen. She is engaging and informative and the best comment I received from one of my board members was that “Colleen told me what I didn’t want to hear but very much needed to hear.

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Mitch Robinson
Salina (Kansas) Community Economic Development Organization
Executive Director

Colleen presented to the Kansas Economic Development Alliance’s 2018 Fall Conference.  Her presentation – Doing a Lot with a Little:  How to Best Spend Your Marketing Dollars – was a big hit among our attendees.  Those who had been in the business for many years and others just starting in our profession found Colleen’s information helpful.  Her suggestions were useful for communities with limited resources as well those with well-funded marketing programs.  I would highly recommend any organization looking for speakers to select Colleen on a wide variety of topics in the economic development marketing field.

Robbie Baylor-WVEDC
Roberta "Robbie" Baylor, PCED
West Virginia Economic Development Council

I highly recommend both Colleen and Jim Walton. They both gave presentations at the West Virginia Economic Development Conference. Both are dynamic presenters and the presentations were educational and interesting. They kept the audience engaged.

Charles Parker-Retail Coach
Charles Parker
The Retail Coach
Project Director

Colleen and I partnered on a webinar presentation regarding marketing strategies for economic development professionals – which was met with high praise from our attendees. As a “guest” on our webinar series, she was over-prepared and took on much more responsibility in preparations than was required and made everyone else’s job much easier.

Colleen is an extremely clear communicator and understands how to translate concepts into examples of everyday application. In the days of webinar-fatigue, Colleen understands how to deliver a message effectively to create a strong engagement without the feeling of a lecture. I highly recommend Colleen as a speaker or presenter and cannot wait to collaborate with her again!

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