Amarillo Economic Development Corporation

The Challenge

Raise visibility

After learning of AOL co-founder Steve Case’s “Rise of the Rest” initiative, an effort to bring funding and support to innovative businesses outside of the typical tech spheres of Silicon Valley and New York, Hawthorne Strategy Group sought to expand our practice to support economic development organizations in mid-size cities. Amarillo, Texas, offered the first challenge for this new practice area.

Until recently, the Amarillo Economic Development Corporation (Amarillo EDC) drove Amarillo’s economic growth from behind the scenes. Its efforts to attract new companies and assist established businesses were going largely unnoticed by the very community it was helping to succeed.

The Solution

Expand the conversation

Working in partnership with Amarillo EDC, Hawthorne used qualitative, competitive market research to determine:

-The business categories most likely to choose Amarillo

-The types of companies that fit the Amarillo profile

-The marketing channels most effective for reaching the target

Hawthorne then held extensive meetings with key leaders in the Amarillo community, including government officials, business leaders, Amarillo EDC board members, and prominent community members to identify their goals for the Amarillo business community and the current and potential role of the Amarillo EDC in that plan.

This information served as the foundation of Amarillo EDC’s marketing plan. 

The Results

Improved outreach

The integrated marketing plan was built with three primary goals:

-Increase Amarillo EDC visibility in the community

-Establish a working relationship with local media and community leaders

-Build a unified voice for Amarillo EDC staff and board members

The plan identified Amarillo EDC’s primary communications channels and provided strategies for using these outlets to build community relationships. It also built a series of key messages for communicating with community members, existing and potential business leaders, and media that would help Amarillo EDC establish a dialogue with these stakeholders.

As part of this plan, Hawthorne worked with Amarillo EDC to build a new type of economic development national media sponsorship by partnering with Inc. magazine. Beginning 2018 with increased momentum and strategic vision, Amarillo uses Inc.’s national reach to gain visibility with national companies, as well as to create opportunities for Amarillo EDC to develop relationships directly with business targets.

To protect the reputation that Amarillo EDC is establishing with the media, Hawthorne created an issues management plan to guide Amarillo EDC’s response and messaging during unexpected events and ensure the protection of their brand in times of crises.