Chapter 4 Teaser Product Development & Packaging

Creativity, Innovation, Product Development and Packaging

MR LIGHTMAN

photo credit: MR LIGHTMAN

In my observation this is often where economic development falls flat. As economic developers we don’t always think of ourselves as creatives, innovators, marketers, product developers and packagers. We do however think of ourselves as sellers. Ironically if we don’t think of ourselves and act as the former we can’t succeed at the latter.

I learned a lot in my first decade as an economic developer and I borrowed heavily from my previous decade and a half as a marketer and a seller. A major insight that I had upon reflection of my work in Prince Edward County is that the various “products” that we developed were instrumental in developing our economy.

The reason I believe the products were instrumental is that the products animated the strategy and created a tangible identity for our community. It followed the principle I learned in my marketing career of “easy to understand and therefore easy to sell and easy to buy”. I don’t believe Prince Edward County would have come as far or as fast and furious without the products, packaging and marketing that we and others undertook during the last dozen years or so.

Where do you start?

I am going share my experience by way of example and hope that I can illustrate the process for product development and packaging.
There are many components to an economy, putting them in a product form and packaging them makes them easy to understand, easy to buy and easy to sell. I believe the key to economic development success is to tap into your creative economy and its people, you must build on your strengths and tie into your strategy.

A Case Study: Product Development & Packaging

Product Development: “TASTE! a celebration of regional cuisineTaste Logo

Background:

We knew at the time that Agri-Tourism in Prince Edward County was a strength and that shoulder season was a targeted time period to grow tourism and investment attraction was a key economic development objective. With that background I developed a product called “TASTE! a celebration of regional cuisine”

Objectives:

  • Attract more investment in gastronomy (the value added and experiential agri-food supply chain)
  • Showcase the community’s cluster of  gastronomy assets
  • Create buzz and excitement around our existing assets and illustrate the potential for growth in the market to investors
  • Create an annual event that builds shoulder season tourism and therefor more demand for gastronomy which in turn encourages supply chain expansion.

Strategy:

  • Develop an event showcasing Prince Edward County’s gastronomy assets all in one day under one roof
  • Engage and involve local farmers and business in the gastronomy supply chain to participate
  • Hire the local destination marketing organization to project manage event
  • Engage the media, by staging a mini event a month in advance and host a media day.  Market “best of category” invite the media to be judges at the event

Product:

  • TASTE! “a celebration of regional cuisine”  The event that led Prince Edward County to be dubbed “The Gastronomic Capital of Ontario by the Globe & Mail, Canada’s national newspaper.
  • A one day gastronomic celebration of everything local a veritable food & beverage orgy.
  • Add jazz music for ambiance and to leverage local Jazz Festival as a means to build local partnerships and synergies
  • Create a friendly competitions such as ‘best of” categories to raise the product development and quality bar, excite attendees and engage the media as judges

Packaging:

  • Showcase regional cuisine in the century old Crystal Palace agricultural building and farigrounds.
  • Pair restauranteurs, chefs and growers together to encourage local food and beverage matches, menu development, collaboration and innovation.
  • Use any and all means of marketing and promotion. Iconic graphics, web-site, posters, brochures, event guide and public relations, public relations, public relations. Minimize paid advertising.

Rationale:

  • A product is tangible and makes it easier to understand what a community has to offer both consumers and investors.
  • Packaging creates focus and helps define your community’s offerings.
  • Showcasing a major gastronomy event  can be impactful, educates what is within the community and what is possible.
  • A successful event illustrates the appetite for the products and therefore further development potential.
  • Showcasing gastronomy during shoulder season maximizes the harvest bounty and builds demand and traffic when needed most

Conclusions and Insight:

  • Products and packaging makes the intangible tangible and clarifies to consumers and investors what opportunities exist in your community
  • The business of economic development is way behind the curve in terms of product development and packaging compared to the private sector. This is an opportunity for innovative economic development organizations and individuals.
  • Product development and packaging is a highly leverageble communications tool.
  • Product development can help define your quality of place, available tourism experiences and investment opportunities.
  • The media, consumers and investors understand products and packaging and respond to them positively when well executed.
  • Engaging and partnering with the media builds highly leveragable exposure, product awareness and demand for your product. It is as close as a guarantee as there is to build success.

Brief Background & Bio
As economic development officer, I pioneered the practice of Creative Rural Economy, Economic Development in Prince Edward County, Ontario for a decade starting in 2001. Now as the President and CEO of the Greater Peterborough Economic Development Commission and the Greater Peterborough Innovation Cluster my role has expanded to include both urban and rural creative economy work. I have a keen interest in the economics of urban-rural interdependency. I also speak regularly to groups, organizations and conferences in order to help them grow their economies. I’ve spoken across Canada in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

Want to Hear More?
I enjoy sharing my knowledge and expertise to help others on developing Creative Economies – Rural, Small Town & Big City too. To book me for speaking engagements, facilitation, workshops and more click here or email here.

Permanent link to this article: http://cre8tivedant.com/2012/05/28/chapter-4-teaser-product-development-packaging/

Chapter 3 Teaser – Market Readiness


Market Readiness

image samarttiw

photo credit: samarttiw

Market readiness is a bit of a funny term, which is appropriate since economic development is a bit of a funny business. The reason I say economic development is a funny business is because of its fundamentals.

It’s the only profession I can think of where one is tasked to do many things including selling and marketing a product that you have no control over because you don’t own it. In almost every other results oriented business model, the sales and marketing functions are part of a corporation who owns and controls the finished product, product development, quality control, etc…

That’s not the case in economic development. The main reason for this is economic developers typically work for local governments or arms length agencies and are selling a place such a a city or region and sometimes land or buildings none of which they own. This presents quite a challenge as you might imagine. The question all good economic developers have to ask themselves is how do I get my “product” which I do not own nor control investment and market ready?

“What is my product”

question marks

photo credit: jscreationzs


In order to do that, two key steps are required and that is to ask “what is my product” and to answer the question of “why?” as in why would an investor want to invest in my community or product. When a community defines it’s economic development product and answers the “why” question it is market ready!

Regardless of ownership, economic developers should borrow from the great marketers of the world who in preparation for market readiness “position” their product with a “unique selling proposition” or USP which also answers the “why” question.

Before I go further I want to clarify that I believe the “product” that economic developers are selling is the community or place they represent, I don’t believe it is a piece of land or an empty building. This is a value add, strategic approach from which selling land and building tactics can follow. First you sell the place as a desirable community with a set of benefits for your target audience, then you sell specific opportunities including land and buildings.

It took a while but we finally settled in on Creative Rural Economy or more precisely “Canada’s First Creative Rural Economy” as the positioning for Prince Edward. Arguably it was the world’s first creative rural economy. I say that not to grandstand but to illustrate both how unique the positioning was and also how disappointed I was that I could not find similar rural communities with rural strategies and plans like ours underway when I was at “The County”.

Positioning and Unique Selling Proposition
We are working on Peterborough’s positioning and USP right now and are directionally leaning towards a concept like ”Peterborough – Innovation and Creativity leading on the edge”.

Peterborough is a post industrial small city and rural cottage country region with significant creative economy assets. It has a century long innovation legacy tied to General Electric (Peterborough was know as The Electric City, being the first to electrify in Canada) and today’s innovation is tied to post secondary institutions, a strong business and entrepreneurial culture and a regional health-care center.

We are defining our product as a small city and creative economy on the city’s edge that has five elements driving our economy. The creative economy positioning and 5 elements are all tied to growing sectors of both the regional and global economy. The five elements are Air, Water, Earth, Fire and Life. The Creative Economy positioning along with each element contains competitive areas of strength that we are articulating and making clear to investors to answer the question why invest in Peterborough or “why” Peterborough.

The Creative Economy and Five Elements are as Follows:

The Creative Economy represents our creative occupations and labour force or people who are paid to think. We have an incredible Quality of Place that is the kind of overall environment which appeals to creative economy workers. The creative class labour force cuts across all sectors and elements of the economy and is where creativity, innovation and quality of place intersect and are the driving force to future prosperity.

Air is a bit of a play on words. Our “air” focus is on Aerospace and Aviation. Recently $30,000,000 was spent to upgrade our regional airport which is positioned as an aviation industrial park. We have a world class aviation company called Flying Colours and a dozen or so other companies in the aviation and aerospace supply chain as well Seneca College, which has Canada’s only flight training center and is moving those operations to our expanded airport. The global business aviation industry is expected to double the number of airplanes from approximately 18,000 to 38,000 over the next 15-20 years.

Water. Trent University has one of the top laboratories in the world with respect to source water pollution detection and Fleming College runs a top notch Centre for Alternative Wastewater Treatment. As well we have numerous knowledge based consulting businesses in the clean technology water sector plus several manufactures of water focused implements. The innovation, research and development combined with our knowledge based water industries position us well in the growing clean technology water sector. The Trent-Severn Waterway weaves its way though our region. Peterborough & The Kawarthas is home to many glorious lakes and is well know as “cottage country”. Certainly water as a recreational and tourism asset supports economic prosperity and growth.

Earth represents our rural region with a rich agricultural legacy and unlimited potential tied to innovation and the burgeoning local food movement. It’s tied to our urban scapes, open spaces and trail systems. Sustainability is tied to earth as is Quality of Place. Arguably much of our $300 million per year tourism industry is also tied to earth.

Fire represents the energy sector. Interestingly Peterborough has a nuclear cluster and supply chain with 18 companies directly involved and another 6 or 7 who have expressed interest and some post secondary activity tied to nuclear. There is demand via the nearby Darlington Nuclear Reactor which is expected to undergo a 10 year 10 billion dollar “referub” and our companies and community are well positioned to benefit from this increased demand. There are other potential regional and global growth areas for Peterborough to position itself as a nuclear cluster as well. There are other energy opportunities tied to the renewable category such as hydro electricity, solar, geothermal, wind and conservation initiatives driven through our sustainability plan.

Life. Last but certainly not least “Life” is at the center of any community and modern economy. This is where our health and wellness, creative and tourism industries are. Our skills training and post secondary economy, where we train creative occupations and the labour force resides in the “Life” element as well. Life is also about Quality of Place our number one competitive advantage to retain and attract talent and the creative class.

As economic developers, our job is to articulate our economy, our unique selling proposition and wrap it in an easy to understand, easy to sell and therefore easy to buy package. That is what market readiness is.

In Peterborough our market readiness is starting with overall internal corporate and staff awareness of the above and include a clear articulation of our product in our web-site, other collateral materials that reinforces our USP to our target markets. Then we will take our message to the proverbial streets. As the execution and implimentation of our marketing plan unfolds I expect that we will be successful in growing the economy based on our approach and clarity in message and persistence in execution.

This is my chapter 3 teaser, just a sample of how I expect the chapter to unfold. I’m crowd-sourcing feedback. Think of this as a working draft, there will be better formatting and editing when the finished product is complete. If you have any thoughts along the way on how to enhance the story and care to share them with me I would genuinely appreciate that. I’m going to tweet this with a #CreativeEconomy and see what happens. Thanks for your interest.

Brief Background & Bio
As economic development officer, I pioneered the practice of Creative Rural Economy, Economic Development in Prince Edward County, Ontario for a decade starting in 2001. Now as the President and CEO of the Greater Peterborough Economic Development Commission and the Greater Peterborough Innovation Cluster my role has expanded to include both urban and rural creative economy work. I have a keen interest in the economics of urban-rural interdependency. I also speak regularly to groups, organizations and conferences in order to help them grow their economies. I’ve spoken across Canada in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

Want to Hear More?
I enjoy sharing my knowledge and expertise to help others on developing Creative Economies – Rural, Small Town & Big City too. To book me for speaking engagements, facilitation, workshops and more click here or email here.

Permanent link to this article: http://cre8tivedant.com/2012/05/06/chapter-3-teaser-market-readiness/

Chapter 2 Teaser – Build on Your Strengths

Crowd Sourcing

image credit renjith-krishnan

As part of my crowd sourcing experiment, I’m wondering if this chapter warrants an alternate or more provocative chapter title such as  When R& D = Rob & Duplicate or “What space can we own?”.  What do you think? Do you have a preference or any alternative suggestions? Please read on and let me know your thoughts? Thank-you.

I can’t stress how important it is for an economic development strategy to be based on inherent local community assets. If a community’s economic development foundation is not focused on building on its strengths I believe it is doomed for failure. Conversely, if a community is able to realize what its asset base is and what the market is looking for and is able to marry the two then I believe the potential for a community is unlimited.

R&D = Rob & Duplicate
There is a provocative term that I have learned from the economic development profession, it’s R&D. It’s not the R&D or Research and Development that you might be familiar with, although it is related. R & D stands for Rob and Duplicate. I share this term with a few words of caution. Obviously one needs to be sensitive to direct rip offs and others’ intellectual property and to not directly rob & duplicate. Also of extreme importance is that every community is unique and has  a point of differentiation. For example there is only one Silicon Valley. Many communities have tried to emulate or copy silicon valley by proclaiming to be the next one and all have failed. They have failed because there is only one Silicon Valley. The missing ingredient from the Rob & Duplicate plan from these communities is the notion of adapting and quite frankly being a bit imaginative or creative in their approach. Perhaps the acronym should be “RAD” Rob, Adapt, Duplicate?

I think the R&D lesson to be learned from Silicon Valley is that it is brilliant at being a magnet for the the knowledge and industrial supply chain for the innovative high tech industry. It owns that space and it is nearly impossible for somebody else to own that space. It is my belief that each community to a certain extent can carve out its own space. The question we all have ask ourselves is what space can we own, who can we rob and duplicate from and how do we creatively adapt these finding to fit our community, while still remaining unique?

Agri-tourism
Agriculture and Tourism. These were the clear strengths of Prince Edward County. Geography is another as is Arts, Culture and Heritage. All of these factors provided an incredible quality of life or quality of place backdrop. As it turns out these would become essential competitive advantages for retaining and attracting the Creative Class but more on that later.

In 2001 there was very little shared data on the local economy and lots of coffee shop talk about the state of Prince Edward County’s economy. What I heard was that Tourism and Agriculture were the two biggest economic drivers and they were about even. As it turned out they were not even. An agricultural study done just prior to my arrival indicated that agriculture farm gate receipts were about $56,000,000 per year and I learned a few years later that tourism into the county was about $25,000,000 per year. These numbers are from the 1999.

Regardless of the difference in their value, these were two obvious pillars of the economy at the time. Part of my start up responsibilities included putting a simple plan and budget together which I did. The plan was tied to what I understood to be the basis of the local strengths of the economy. The plan and budget included two other pillars, the third being Arts, Culture and Heritage and the fourth Commerce and Industry. Commerce and Industry was the “and everything else” category as there was no obvious clustering of business beyond the other 3 pillars. There was not an obvious leveragable supply chain, say like in Silicon Valley. This is rather ironic because we typically think of what would be in a commerce and industry pillar as “economic development” however in Prince Edward County,  that was not the case. I later learned about Prince Edward County’s economic ecosystem, which I believe is not a unique attribute of Prince Edward County’s but likely common among local economies.

Building on Strengths

image credit - Stuart Miles

Tourism and Agriculture was clearly the immediate economic development opportunity for The County. This was during the time of broad discussions on added value agriculture and agri-toruism and the very early days of the local food movement. As mentioned the wine industry had early investors and some momentum. As a result the first few initiatives I focused on were agriculture and tourism related, where possible combing the two. The one issue I struggled with and certainly paid a price for was dealing with commodity agriculture. While I think everybody agreed about it’s importance most of it was tied to either global commodity prices and or commodity boards, therefore quite frankly I didn’t know what value I or others could add to this segment. So my focus was on value add,  primarily free market agriculture. I received much criticism or focusing on the new growing ares of agriculture while “ignoring the commodity and board related areas.

My first three initiatives all robbed and duplicated from others and were creatively adapted to our environment. In the following pages I’m going to outline how I stole a page out of my maple syrup loving days as a child growing up in Quebec, how I blended big city and timeless rural ideas to help Prince Edward County become the darling of regional cuisine in Ontario and developed a “how to” publication to answer the unasked and unanswered questions by wine investors that help catapult Prince Edward County’s wine explosion.

This is my chapter 2 teaser, just a sample of how I expect the chapter to unfold. I’m crowd-sourcing feedback. Think of this as a working draft, there will be better formatting and editing when the finished product is complete . If you have any thoughts along the way on how to enhance the story and care to share them with me I would genuinely appreciate that. I’m going to tweet this with a #CreativeEconomy and see what happens. Thanks for your interest.

Brief Background & Bio
As economic development officer, I pioneered the practice of Creative Rural Economy, Economic Development in Prince Edward County, Ontario for a decade starting in 2001. Now as the President and CEO of the Greater Peterborough Economic Development Commission and the Greater Peterborough Innovation Cluster my role has expanded to include both urban and rural creative economy work. I have a keen interest in the economics of urban-rural interdependency. I also speak regularly to groups, organizations and conferences in order to help them grow their economies. I’ve spoken across Canada in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

Want to Hear More?
I enjoy sharing my knowledge and expertise to help others on developing Creative Economies – Rural, Small Town & Big City too. To book me for speaking engagements, facilitation, workshops and more click here or email here.

Permanent link to this article: http://cre8tivedant.com/2012/04/22/chapter-2-teaser-build-on-your-strengths/

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