It’s a noisy world out there. You’re competing with numerous other businesses and organisations, all trying to catch the attention of your target market. This is all the more important when talking to a regional audience, who have a unique set of needs, experiences and assumptions.
Whether you are a local brand eager to show your regional roots, or a national or even international name wanting to establish yourself as an employer or business of choice in the North East, how do you make your voice heard?
As an agency born and bred in the North East, we have worked with clients across the country. With our regional client portfolio spanning from North Yorkshire to the Scottish Borders, we know a thing or two about speaking
to a North East audience, and getting your brand in front of specific B2B and B2C communities in this unique part of the world.
Do your research
The first step in creating an impactful regional marketing strategy is to find out who else is out there. Who are your competitors in the region? If you are looking to hold an event or launch a new service or product, what else is going on in the region that may impact your plans?
Conducting an audit of competitors, potential partners and major calendar events gives you the information you need to see where you sit in the region. From here, you can shape your marketing plan, understanding where else there may be demands on the time and attention of your target audience, how your USP differs from competitors, and how you may be able to tap in to existing networks to amplify your message.
The North East boasts a number of business and professional networks that can be particularly helpful for B2B brands. From the North East England Chamber of Commerce to NE1, Tees Valley Business to Innovation SuperNetwork, there are a number of organisations dedicated to bringing businesses together and sharing regional success.
Creating partnerships within this business community can also give you the opportunity to cement your position as a thought leader. Securing a speaking slot at an event, contributing to a regional newsletter or even ensuring that you are active in local LinkedIn groups mean that you can get your point across, demonstrating your expertise and experience on topics that are highly relevant to the region.In essence, CSR, ESG or giving, whatever you want to call it, is built into your budget annually.
Create a compelling identity
Relevant not just to regional marketing campaigns, but across your entire marketing strategy, having an eye-catching and compelling identity for your business or organisation puts you in a strong position to start accumulating brand awareness.
Creating visual and copy elements that immediately articulate who you are, what you stand for, and your role in the region will help local audiences recognise your name and associate you with the wider business ecosystem in the North East.
A visually engaging logo, a strapline that succinctly and effectively articulates your purpose, and short, editable copy that expands on your purpose and vision will give you a campaign identity ‘toolkit’ that you can roll out across the region.
Go one further by creating a QR code that immediately takes users to a region-specific landing page or online hub, filled with engaging material, localised imagery and a clear call to action – such as applying for local vacancies, or finding out more about regional developments.
Using this compelling identity across campaign materials, including organic media coverage, out of home advertising, social media and other regional channels, will place you in a region-specific context, building momentum with your audiences so that they continue to learn more about your brand, the more they see you.
Engage with media
We are lucky to have a media ecosystem here in the North East that loves to share the successes of businesses in our region, as well as amplify the voices of local thought leaders. Whether you are a B2B or B2C brand, building positive relationships with regional media is an ideal way to get your name out there.
If you are about to launch, are opening a new presence in the North East, or are announcing new investment or a major recruitment drive, you will want to make a splash with the regional business titles such as The Journal/BusinessLive, North East Times, Bdaily and North East Insider, among others. These titles will want to hear what your business is bringing to the region. Is it jobs and investment? A new service or product? In this era of Levelling Up and devolution, being clear on the positive economic impact you can bring to the North East is essential.
From here, you can develop a robust thought leadership strategy, using PR to place comment and opinion with local titles on the issues that matter to local people. Keeping informed about what keeps people up at night in the region is key, as is having an original and authentic insight to share. Saying something meaningful and unique, with the stats and expertise to back it up, will help get cut-through to busy regional editors.
Leverage social networks
The North East is a pretty online place. Social media channels like LinkedIn are filled with the region’s movers and shakers eager to see the business community succeed, and happy to amplify local economic successes.
Make the most of it by building your profile online, particularly for B2B channels such as LinkedIn. Utilise that stand-out visual identity with an eye-catching LinkedIn page, take time to connect with and engage with regional business bodies (a positive comment under a post can go a long way!), and be sure to post a steady stream of positive, region-specific content.
Don’t simply focus on your own news and content either. Updates on new offerings and launches are great, but sharing positive stories from local business press, or celebrating new funding announcements for the North East will swiftly position you as a major player in the region, with your finger on the pulse of what our business community needs.
Consider putting budget behind paid social media activity too. The beauty of platforms such as LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook is that you can be highly targeted with your ad campaigns. This means that you can set up your ads to be seen by only the right audiences in the right areas, tailoring your messaging accordingly. This can be especially helpful for recruitment or B2B campaigns, as you can adjust your ad campaign to be seen by those in specific job roles, in particular geographic areas.
With all of these marketing activations, measurement is key. Throughout your campaign, ensure that you are regularly and consistently measuring regional reach and engagement. This gives you the opportunity to make refinements to your strategy in order to maximise local impact.
Online, Google Analytics and channel-specific analytics dashboards such as Twitter Analytics mean you can take a deep dive into your audiences, seeing where they are based and how they are interacting with your brand.
Offline evaluation can be equally important, particularly if you are holding events or undertaking a recruitment campaign. Surveys that ask your audiences their experience of your brand or business, how they heard about the event or job role, and how they found their interaction with your organisation can be very helpful in understanding wider regional perceptions.
From here, you can identify any gaps you may have in your plan. For example, are you lacking engagement from regional audiences on social media? Consider generating more region-specific social content and incorporating popular regional hashtags. Are event sign-ups low? Explore how you can do more with PR and advertising with local media platforms to get your call to action out there. Does your survey data suggest that people don’t know much about you? Embark on a brand awareness strategy, utilising multiple online and offline channels to get your name out there.
Stick to your message
It can seem daunting to build a regional marketing strategy, with so many options at your disposal. However, by standing by a consistent message and having confidence in what you can offer to the region, who you can offer it to, and the broader impact you are seeking to make, you can quickly build engagement with a regional audience.
One thing we can all agree with in the North East is that we want our region to succeed. Show how your brand or business can be part of that success story, articulate your expertise and impact in the region, and use your altruistic side to celebrate the success of others, while highlighting your own achievements.
From there, the North East is your oyster.
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