7 tips to use place marketing [MANUAL]

7 tips to use place marketing efficiently [MANUAL]

The importance of place marketing is expected to increase continuously. The reason is that it’s becoming more and more difficult for a city to compete with other cities and highlight a unique identity. Place marketing is the perfect tool to solve this. Unfortunately, cities often do not know how to get started or are not using the latest trends.

This manual contains 7 tips on how to use place marketing and tells you everything you need to know about the latest trends in this domain.

How to start with place marketing? 

1. Convert your policy

Once a municipality's policy has been drawn up, this vision of the future must be converted into place marketing goals. This means that you can divide the overall goal of your city into smaller goals where place marketing is being used.

Suppose that the number of vacant properties in your city increase and you want to stop this trend. Start by making a general objective to make local shopping popular again. An example of a goal could be 'Reducing the number of vacant trading properties by 5% within 2 years through actions with local merchants'. This is a general goal that can then be broken down by devising concrete actions with merchants.

Knokke-Heist, A Belgian coastal city, for example, did a place marketing campaign with tote bags for Valentine's Day to replace plastic bags. It resulted into a lot of positive reactions from the inhabitants and visitors.

Important when setting goals is that they should be well formulated according to SMART (Specific - Measurable - Acceptable - Realistic - Time-bound). This is the best way to convert your policy into concrete goals. The vision of your city must been seen in every goal you make. 

2. Pick the right target group

In place marketing, we distinguish 5 different target groups. The inhabitants, visitors, companies, students and investors. Approaching these 5 different target groups should be done in a suitable way. Even though each target group has its own interests, sometimes several target groups can be directly or indirectly involved in a place marketing campaign.

For example, a municipality organises an event in the city centre for inhabitants and visitors. At the same time local merchants will also benefit from this because there are more people to visit their stores.

To do this, it is important that you know all your target groups well so you can send them the right message in the right way. For example, if your inhabitants are active in a Facebook group, it might be interesting to promote your next event in that group. Try to gather as much information about them as possible and make the most of it.


Inhabitants (Place marketing, Merchandise Essentials)


3. Create a supportive team

A mistake that a lot of cities and towns make is that there is no support for their campaigns. Often people want to go too fast and the campaigns are not sufficiently well thought out. Further, there is insufficient internal communication and there aren’t any well-considered plans drawn up.

First of all, it is important that the strategy that you are going to write for a campaign is complete. Everyone who works on the campaign must understand what needs to be done and where they need to pay extra attention to. That's why you should also set up different meetings and involve several people. By doing this, everyone can give input and this will increase the motivation.

This will also ensure that the support for your campaigns is bigger and which will translate to better results.

4. Work on your 'product’

In order to please the selected target group(s), you have to work on your 'product', the city. You can do this by supporting your target group(s) in as many areas as possible. Make sure that people want to stay in your city.

Everyone must benefit from the decisions that you make. Just think of the creation of new business premises. This will not only help companies but also your inhabitants because you’re creating employment.

A creative way of knowing what you need to change in your city is, for example, installing an idea box in the town hall. Give your inhabitants, visitors, companies, students and investors sufficient opportunities to give their opinion. This will not only creates a more intense bond with the city itself, but will also give you a positive image.

There is no point in investing in a new highway that no one would use if your town is known as a cyclist village. Rather invest in new bike paths that your target audience can enjoy. Work as effective as possible on your 'product'. 

5. Be creative

Dare to think out of the box. Due to the increasing competition between cities and municipalities, it is important to put your city into the spotlight. Think of coastal municipalities: they all have the sea as their trump card, but one person would rather go to Miami than to Santa Monica Beach. This all has to do with the positioning of a city in people's minds.

An example of a creative campaign can be found in The Netherlands. Amsterdam had one of the most successful city branding campaigns in the world with IAMsterdam. The city showed how the various target groups could identify with Amsterdam's identity.

Looking for inspiration? Make sure you take a look at our cases in which merchandise was used to reflect the identity of Belgian cities such as Ostend and Roeselare.


IAmsterdam (Place marketing, Merchandise Essentials)


6. Integrate place marketing in your policy

Place marketing should not be seen as a project, but should have a continuous character. The vision of a city must be converted into a multi-year programme with enough evaluations in order to adjust it. This gives the campaign a better chance of succeeding.

It is also striking that place marketing is often used by the people of the communications department of a town hall. This does not mean that this department is the only one that should be actively involved in place marketing. Place marketing is a tool that everyone should be working with.

If you consider place marketing as a long-term player and can spread the vision across all the different departments of your town hall, you will achieve a full integration of place marketing in your policy with a more effective result. 

7. Invest smartly

Achieving the best results possible with limited resources is one of the biggest challenges for a lot of cities and towns when it comes to place marketing. Often a small budget is provided for this aspect, so it is important to make the right choices on how to spend the money available.

The most common place marketing campaigns revolve around events, branding and culture. If you don’t want to go classic, there are also a few trends that are certainly worthwhile. Currently, merchandise is an emerging and effective way to use place marketing.

Merchandise can be used to turn the target groups into ambassadors. A nice T-shirt of a city is often te start for an interesting conversation about that city. We have written an article about this trend, in which we explain how to use merchandise in your city.

Of course, there are more trends! Read further to discover the other 2 biggest trends.


Merchandise of Ostend (Place marketing, Merchandise Essentials)


The 7 tips for city marketing are listed below:

  1. Concert your policy
  2. Choose the right target group
  3. Create a supportive base
  4. Work on your 'product
  5. Be creative
  6. Integrate place marketing into your policy
  7. Invest smartly

The trends of place marketing

Discover the most important trends of place marketing and boost your policy.

 Trends van place marketing


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