Wndn Marketing Plan 2008 04 21


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A strategic Marketing Plan for Western Nebraska.

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Wndn Marketing Plan 2008 04 21

  1. 1. Western Nebraska Development Network Marketing Plan April 11, 2008 Pamela Krider Principal GBSM, Inc. 600 17th Street Suite 2020 South Denver, CO 80202 303.825.6100 pamelakrider@gbsm.com
  2. 2. Background The Western Nebraska Development Network (WNDN) embarked on a strategic planning process last fall to address a common issue reflected in each of their communities: the need to meet Western Nebraska s workforce needs and enhance its communities by attracting, recruiting and retaining a skilled workforce. Western Nebraska is often referred to as Nebraska s Panhandle and represents the western most counties in the state. The area encompasses 14,000 square miles (18 percent of the state) with a population of 90,000 people (5 percent of the state population). Between 1990 and 2000, seven Western Nebraska counties and 16 communities lost population. Five counties experienced an excess of deaths over births and seven experienced net out-migration during that same decade. People do, however migrate to Western Nebraska cities. In fact, Western Nebraska has been much more successful at creating jobs than it has been at attracting new working age residents to fill those jobs. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the region added a total of 1,510 new jobs between the years 2001 and 2005. During the same period, the potential labor force (persons age 16 to 65 years) declined by 380 *U.S., 2005). Understanding who might and who has come to Western Nebraska is critical as the WNDN embarks on a concerted effort to source, attract, recruit and retain families to the area to fill these jobs. The University of Nebraska has focused a targeted research effort on Western Nebraska to learn more about regional demographics and trends. The University has completed several phases of a study concentrating on the rural Great Plains and why people move to these communities. Another study is currently underway to determine why people move away from these communities. The starting premise was that rural advocates believed that the quality of life characteristically perceived as typical of smaller communities and rural regions was more desirable than those found in urban centers. Investments have been made in regional and local programs, including some internet based efforts, to reach potential residents with job information. However, some communities are beginning to realize that jobs alone may not be enough to attract new residents to a given community, and stereotypical rural/urban quality of life differences are now starting to be emphasized alongside economic opportunities in local recruitment efforts. Full summaries from the University of Nebraska research efforts are included in the addendum. Page | 2
  3. 3. Key Findings from the University of Nebraska Research Where They Come From · They come from many different locations 38 different states with most coming from other parts of Nebraska or adjacent states including Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota and Kansas; the majority come from metropolitan counties. · A slight majority (54 percent) have lived in Nebraska before; 30 percent lived in their current county before and 38percent in their current community. The rest (46 percent) have no prior experience with Western Nebraska. Who They Are · New residents bring many assets to the region; high levels of education, children, professional occupation skills, entrepreneurial backgrounds, and volunteer and community leadership experience. · Most bring a spouse/partner or children with them, while 25 percent come alone. · From a statistical point of view, the new residents are better educated, make more money and have lived in a metropolitan area. Why They Come · They want to leave the high cost of living and urban congestion behind and move to a community with a better quality of life defined by a simpler pace of life, proximity to relatives, decreased cost of living, increased quality of the natural environment and higher paying jobs. · Families cite a better environment to raise children and higher quality schools. · Job-related considerations are a factor in the decision, but community quality of life drives their decision to come to Western Nebraska. What Happens When They Get Here · The sense of belonging in the community has the strongest relationship; with an expectation of staying in the community. · Most new Western Nebraska residents view their communities as friendly, trusting and supportive; while they might be involved, they are not as involved in their current community as they were in their previous community. · Many, especially younger persons, are not planning to stay in their current community or are not sure of their plans. It is important to note that there does appear to be somewhat of a backlash by long- term residents of the communities regarding the arrival of this new type of Western Nebraskan. First, there is resentment that employers feel the need to recruit from outside their community and, once recruited, the individual that gets the job receives a better salary and overall compensation package than what the current residents might receive. Second, there is concern about the impact of change that these new residents Page | 3
  4. 4. might have on the extant community. The cost of living might increase due to the community shortages of housing, general infrastructure and services. Existing services and facilities will be overtaxed by the increase in population. And, the general ways of rural living might be negatively influenced by metropolitan values and behaviors. Why People Stay is addressed in the next phase of research by the University. However, one might be able to predict the outcomes from the research based on the results from the completed research and the observations of experiences of the WNDN s collective and individual community experiences. A recent report sponsored by Cabela s states that workforce development in the Nebraska panhandle, specifically in the areas of recruitment and retention, is in the early stages of a shift. Research finds that there will always be a trade-off for individuals who make the choice to raise their families in rural communities as opposed to larger cities. These rural towns offer a quality of life the city never can. A Nebraska Department of Labor 2002-2012 Long-term Industry Projects Report, states that the sectors predicted to have the highest growth include management, education, administrative, support, arts, entertainment and recreation. Individuals who pursue these jobs have several key areas of consideration which influence their decisions to relocate or to remain in a market. Education: For themselves, the individual looks at a community s ability to afford them continuing education and professional development, as well as education and/or the opportunity to learn about interests they have outside of their careers. For their families, they look at the condition and qualify of education available at local schools and institutions for higher learning. Recreation: Personal experiences with local recreation and the area s ability to meet individual needs. Trends reflect shorter, local pseudo-vacations with family, along with backyard but also hands-on, physical activities. Housing: Professionals have higher expectations for the availability of quality homes in quality neighborhoods. A need is evident to balance this with low-income housing availability for unskilled laborers. Health and Wellness: Professionals committed to a healthy lifestyle and expect availability of dining, shopping and exercise locations to support this lifestyle. Spending Habits: Disposable income affords opportunity and expectation that there will be access to niche shopping, lattes, dining and entertainment. Community Social Factors: New residents desire to connect with the locals, to be accepted into the social dynamics and to be included in the events of the community. There is a high level of need by trailing spouses for an outlet and opportunity to become involved in the local community through events and volunteer activities. A Page | 4
  5. 5. balance needs to be developed with the local, long-term residents that might resent the new comers and the impact realized on their lifestyle. Members of the WNDN embarked on a strategic planning process to clearly define what they were trying to accomplish as a network of Western Nebraska communities. The group engaged in analysis and discussion in response to several key questions: 1. Why do we need people to come to Western Nebraska? 2. What kind of people do we need to come? Or, to stay? 3. Why would these people stay or come to Western Nebraska? 4. What do we need to do to get them to visit? Or, to stay? After much discussion, analysis and debate, the group decided that they had a collective goal for their efforts: To meet Western Nebraska s workforce needs and enhance its communities by attracting, recruiting and retaining a skilled workforce. The WNDN then assessed the potential types of individuals that they might target to achieve this goal. The initial thought was that young adults was the group to target to best meet their community s short and long-term workforce needs. The group discussed retirees, baby boomers and other potential groups; each taking into account the data presented by the University of Nebraska and Cabela s research, as well as their individual community experiences. The group determined that there was a critical demographic which they believed would meet their workforce needs as well as align with what Western Nebraska has to offer to potential new residents: Young families with children and parents that have or want to acquire skills to meet current and future job requirements. Page | 5
  6. 6. Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats (SWOT) Members of the WNDN embarked on an analysis of Western Nebraska to honestly assess what their communities collectively and individually offered to satisfy the desired qualities of potential employees. This was done in the form of a SWOT analysis. The SWOT analysis provided several development strategies: 1. Identify a target group with specific skills that would most benefit our communities and focus our efforts toward that group. 2. Differentiate our attracting/recruiting efforts for new residents from our retention efforts with existing residents. 3. Start from within engage our current residents in a Western Nebraska pride effort gaining their buy-in and assistance in our retention and recruitment efforts. 4. Assess the collective offerings of our communities in alignment with research outcomes of desires/needs of targeted groups. 5. Engage community organizations, institutions and community leaders in an organized effort to fill the gaps of the stated needs of young families and our communities. 6. Package the collective community offerings (add gap closure elements as they are completed) and implement an outreach effort toward young families with specific skills in our backyard communities and in targeted markets. 7. Leverage state, regional and specific community efforts to align our efforts and to maximize our limited resources. The WNDN then prioritized the necessary efforts and created four subcommittees to address immediate opportunities identified by the group. These included: 1. Sense of community: This subcommittee was asked to identify visuals and words that best communicated the positive attributes of rural living ( kid on a bike , safety, quiet, peace), family values, quality education, good neighborhoods, forward thinking, economic growth and the opportunities for community involvement. 2. Great Living/Housing: This subcommittee was asked to secure the regional housing study and provide the WNDN with an analysis of that study to support local housing development efforts. In addition, there was an opportunity to convince local real estate professionals to support the recruiting efforts by including their listings on the MLS. The subcommittee was going to identify new development projects throughout Western Nebraska and share the information with the group for reuse in local recruiting efforts. 3. Great Jobs: This subcommittee was asked to complete a Western Nebraska job inventory and analysis of the types of skills represented by those jobs. In addition, they were going to identify local training programs and skills training partnerships that existed in the area. The team was also going to identify semi/retiree mentoring programs, high school partnership programs, college partnerships and investigate trade school recruiting. Page | 6
  7. 7. 4. Access to Everything: This subcommittee was asked to identify opportunities to pull together total community offerings; including research of the opportunity for an integrated internet site, a shared calendar of events, travel time maps, airport travel access, as well as explore concepts around shopping caravans and other shared community events. Finally, this group was going to look at efforts to attract national retail and restaurant chains to the Western Nebraska area. This has been an evolutionary process for the WNDN. The individuals represent a very diverse group of communities from varied backgrounds and areas of responsibility. Some of the communities are further along than others. The makeup and workforce needs of each community vary. There has been a realization that some of the strategies outlined in the session almost four months ago are better addressed at the local versus the regional level. In fact, several of the communities have taken ownership of some of the strategies and they have implemented programs and/or efforts as part of that strategy. The state of Nebraska is embarking on creation of an integrated job listing website that should address the larger need for a trusted resource for employers and cities to list available jobs. Cabela s is partnering with other organizations and regions, including counties in adjoining states, to create the High Plains Compass internet site that will help address the need for a trusted resource for potential/existing citizens to access to learn about what is available and happening in their communities. Influencing the name, content and design of these websites presents a real opportunity for the WNDN to leverage these activities in addressing the needs identified as part of this strategic planning effort. However, even with this in mind, the WNDN has come to the conclusion that there is a need for an integrated marketing campaign and engagement effort that will benefit their individual and combined efforts. Page | 7
  8. 8. Marketing and Communications Recommendations In Support of Western Nebraska Development Network Workforce Planning Initiative Program Goal: To meet Western Nebraska s workforce needs and enhance its communities by attracting, recruiting and retaining a skilled workforce. Target Audience: Young families with children and parents that have or want to acquire skills to meet current and future job requirements. Target Markets: 1. Alumni Families and individuals that have some personal and/or family connection to Western Nebraska. 2. Nebraskans 3. Adjacent metropolitan communities (awaiting detailed market list from University of Nebraska research) a. Colorado b. Wyoming c. Kansas d. South Dakota Key Program Objectives: 1. Ensure critical support and participation from Western Nebraska s leaders, businesses, community organizations and residents for the talent acquisition and retention efforts led by the WNDN and local communities. 2. Define and promote Western Nebraska s image and the opportunities to leverage existing marketing and communication activities, as well as set the framework for a presentation of the collective Western Nebraska offerings. 3. Gain the support and active participation of long-time and current citizens for the WNDN and local community s rejuvenation and recruitment efforts. Page | 8
  9. 9. Key Program Strategies & Tactics 1. Target Recruiting Efforts: Source from clearly defined markets and targeted skill sets. Target marketing and communication efforts toward specific markets from which recruitment and retention efforts have been successful. a. Get beyond boundary states to specific counties and cities within and outside of Nebraska. (Detail should be available in University of Nebraska research). b. Define collective and individual skill set needs identify in/out-of-state employers, associations and schools where the right talent can be accessed. 2. Attract Potential Talent: Research has outlined the expectations that potential employees have of the communities that they are considering. Analysis of Western Nebraska resulted in some gaps in what is desired and what is available. Creating a brand for Western Nebraska that can deliver the promises presented by that brand, requires a concerted effort to fill the gaps. a. Give it a name (that resonates without explanation). Move beyond internal or historical labels (i.e. Panhandle, Buffalo Commons) and call it what it is Western Nebraska. Align all references to the area accordingly. b. Give it an identity. Create a common look, feel and distinct slogan that captures the essence of the area and will resonate with existing and new residents (a sampling of slogans from other nearby markets is included in the Addendum). c. Reflect the identity. Embark on a Community (or, Regional) Beautification Campaign where the external styles of the communities reflect their internal culture (i.e. worn down school buildings w/excellent teaching, dirty Main Street façade with home town businesses, undefined Main Street with town center resources). d. Leverage business and professional relationships. Encourage recruitment efforts and campaigns by local businesses to reflect the name and identify of Western Nebraska, and to include the region s website and collateral materials. Request active sponsorship and participation in recruiting strategies. e. Media tour. Embark on a regional and target market public relations tour for every major regional event. Target lifestyle, employment opportunities, business expansion and other story ideas that support the overall positioning strategy for the region. Fill the Gap Strategies 3. a. Infrastructure enhancement. Combine the collective efforts of city officials, organizations and leaders to recruit national entertainment, restaurants, shops and other lifestyle entities to the region. If unsuccessful, identify a restaurant/shop that has been successful in one community and provide start-up/seed money to expand operations to other communities. Page | 9
  10. 10. b. Leverage repeatable solutions. Design a regional infrastructure strategy to consolidate efforts for repeatable solutions (i.e. community center design, multi-community construction contracts, bulk purchases, rotating equipment and programs.) 4. Recruit the Talent: Close the deal now that talent has been identified and expressed an interest in moving to Western Nebraska. a. Leverage state-wide or regional website development (CareerLink and High Plains Compass). Define a process and protocol for sustainability of each site including ownership, vigorous content management and inclusiveness that are marketing/content vs. technically driven. Aggressively market the launch of each site within each city, throughout the region and in targeted markets. b. Design a collective Homegrown campaign to target Nebraska alumni including a repeatable solution for reunion marketing efforts, current resident ambassador programs and direct marketing efforts with recent graduates. c. Consolidate recruitment events. Leverage limited staff and resources to share the participation burden for various, targeted recruitment events. Create a recruitment calendar to include target market job fairs, vocational school/college recruitment events and high school career day events. Represent the Western Nebraska and individual city opportunities at these events regardless of home communities. d. Business partnerships. Identify opportunities to incorporate Western Nebraska recruiting strategies, messaging and materials in local business recruiting efforts. Propose shared funding opportunities for the marketing/communication effort including partnerships through matching funds for state grants. Create high school and college internship programs to encourage retention of current young citizens. e. New and/or social media engagement. Develop an outreach initiative by leveraging new media (blogs, Face Book, MySpace) to keep existing and potential employees informed on region and community events and happenings. If not already available, make local newspapers available online or via direct mail to their current markets and post relevant media coverage to the news sections of CareerLink and High Plains Compass. Page | 10
  11. 11. 5. Retain the Talent: The cultural fit of an employee is often as important as the skills and qualifications assessment. Research shows a propensity for departure of residents whose perception or experiences of a rural lifestyle don t meet their expectations. Keeping existing talent and retaining new talent might be the most critical strategy in meeting the overarching workforce goals of the region. a. Positive citizen ambassadors. Engage current residents and gain their support of the business/future survival case for bringing in new residents to Western Nebraska communities. Clearly define the role that they play in the future success of the region and its communities. Address concerns and define any additional strategies required to address those concerns. b. Organization newcomer outreach. Engage community organizations and associations to expand current programs and create new programs that address the needs of new residents (children s programs, trailing spouse programs, cultural programs, etc). Benchmark and duplicate existing programs already in place in other markets and/or provide transportation to other community programs already in place. c. Visionary and engaged leadership. Embark on a leadership communications plan to inform and apprise citizens of the long-term vision and strategy for the region and its communities. Identify a speaker (or appoint a top community leader) as spokesperson for the WNDN effort. Address the research findings that new citizens want to believe that their community has a future. Provide leadership with common messages and training to enhance their effectiveness in representing the brand. Host town hall meetings and/or coordinate leadership attendance at community events and meetings to deliver the message. d. Access to everything. Leverage the local media, CareerLink and High Plains Compass to keep residents informed of the many activities, opportunities and developments in the region. Influence media stories and web design to include a collective calendar of events , drive times and entertainment events/venues. e. Regional events. Identify and rotate the coordination/hosting of a quarterly regional event to expand the connectivity between the communities while leveraging limited resources to deliver major events to the region s residents (i.e. 4th of July Celebration, Holiday Winter Land, Spring Winery Tour, Summer Music Festival). f. Infrastructure expansion. Identify items inhibiting the resident travel necessary to meet their needs and desires including regional bus service and expanded flights to commercial airports. Page | 11
  12. 12. Budget Funding options to implement the tactical items listed for each strategy can be limited and might require creative solutions to secure the necessary funding. These options might include state grants, community grants, business/organization partnerships, tax funding, and/or citizen charges. Creative funding solutions might be pursued, however, for major strategic initiatives. For example, HGTV hosts many programs for renovation. Approaching these programs to assist with community beautification is a possibility. The Green Movement across America might create an opportunity for a transportation company to test a new green bus or system of transportation in the region. National cultural arts foundations might provide funding to bring nationally renowned performances to regional communities. Marketing and communication departments at state universities often look for opportunities that can become major projects for their students. In addition, review of the State s economic development site reveals, that many of the concepts presented in this plan are currently being funded in other markets, and there are many items in this plan that represent an opportunity for the same types of grants. It should be noted, however, that most of these grants also include matching funds from a local business, organization or collection of individuals. Examples: · Scottsbluff/Gering: $70k to market their new workforce recruitment wehavejobs.net site · Geneva: $5600 Come Home to Fillmore Alumni outreach effort · Ord & Valley: 20k to market their jobs website · Gibbon County: $23k Educate and train their residents · Brown & Reya Paha Counties: $23k to educate and train residents about creating rural tourism · Knox County & Creighton: $16k school and business positive collaboration project · Brown & Keya: $60k to educate residents about job opportunities · Western Nebraska: $35.5k High Plains Website · Auburn/Seward North Platte: $55k workforce development campaign · Fordyce/Hartington: $20k Bring People Back Campaign · Elkhorn River Valley Business Development: $5k planning study for small business development · Thayer County Entrepreneur Incentive:$10k design strategy addressing come home to work/live Page | 12
  13. 13. Addendum Marketing Slogans from Other Markets · Nebraska: Possibilities Endless · Lincoln: Prairie Capital City and Community of Opportunity and 5 Star Business Opportunity · Sidney: Small Town Values. Big time Opportunities · Scottsbluff: Share the Good Life · Chadron: Opportunities as Endless as the Expanse of the Skies or Where Tradition Blends with Innovation · Gordan: What You re Looking For · Kimball: The High Point of Nebraska · Kansas: Achieve More · Wyoming: Live the Legend or The New West, a place good for Families and for Business · Laramie, WY: Partners in Progress · Fort Collins: Where Renewable is A Way of Life (Pending Final approval of their Branding initiative) or Adventure Casual · Rapid City: Black Hills of South Dakota · Denver: Mile High City Possibilities for Western Nebraska · Plentiful Opportunities. Rewarding Experience. Simple Lifestyle. · It Takes a Special Pioneering Spirit to Live Here. · Living the good Life on the Western Plains of Nebraska Page | 13
  14. 14. Sources Moving to the Rural Great Plains Point of Origin Differences in the Decision Making Process, report sponsored by a grant from the USDA/CSREES national Research Initiative Rural Development. Participants included University of Nebraska/Nebraska Rural initiative, Panhandle Research and Extension Center, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Center for Applied rural innovation and Center for Rural Innovation. Nebraska Panhandle Employment: Recruitment and Retention, sponsored by Cabela s and developed by Ridge and Range Publishing & Consulting. Nebraska Workforce Development, Second quarter, 2007 Nebraska Job Vacancy Survey. Developed by the Department of Labor. Living & Working, The Nebraska Department of Economic Development website. State and city websites of Western Nebraska and adjoining communities. Meeting Minutes WNDN Strategic Planning Sessions led and facilitated by Pamela Krider, GBSM, Inc. 600 17th St. Suite 2020S Denver, CO 80202, Pamela Krider 303- 825-6100 pamelakrider@gbsm.com Page | 14