Why Marketing in the Municipal Sector Matters

For the longest time, marketing was viewed as a discipline that was used primarily by the private sector to boost sales and profits. However, in recent years, public sector organizations are discovering the benefits of marketing in helping them take a more strategic approach towards their business operations. In fact, that’s the main reason we launched the Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing – to help public sector organizations apply the principles of marketing to a service-driven environment, to more effectively implement social (behavioural) change such as quitting smoking, adopting more active lifestyles, getting their kids immunized and to help organizations deliver more effective marketing communications campaigns.

Of all the public sector organizations that could benefit from marketing, municipalities have the most to gain by adopting marketing practices. Municipalities deliver programs and services that affect the lives of citizens every day, whether it be helping a new business get started, delivering community recreation programs, ensuring effective transit or beautifying our cities. And any organization that is concerned with attracting and servicing customers has a lot to gain by adopting a marketing orientation.

In fact, if one were to replace the word “profit” with “impact” or “results”, many of the principles of marketing can be transferred from a business application to a public service application. Here are just a few of the ways that marketing can be used in a municipality:

  • assessing, prioritizing and increasing take-up on programs and services,
  • delivering compelling communications to target audiences,
  • adopting and implementing service standards,
  • branding a municipality to attract  tourists or businesses,
  • increasing compliance with a new policy,
  • implementing social change programs such as health promotion,
  • generating non-tax revenue through sponsorships and other revenue generation initiatives.

At MARCOM, June 9-11 at the Shaw Centre in Ottawa, I’ll be presenting a one-day workshop entitled Marketing in a Municipal Environment where we will discuss the many facets of marketing as it relates to a municipal setting. The workshop will be ideal for anyone who is responsible for delivering programs and services and concerned about “doing more for less” / “doing more with what they have” or who wants to adopt a more business-like approach towards its operations.

Having come from a municipal environment before launching my own business, I wish I would have been more familiar with the principles of marketing because it would have made my job so much easier, instead of relying strictly on instincts to carry me through. I look forward to sharing my learned experiences at MARCOM this year.

Later, BC

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