2009 KME Made in Loudoun County Awards
Some light home reading under DC blizzard conditions today...Happy Holidays and New Year!
When we started our “2009 KME Online Loudoun County Promotion Business Challenge” this year, the economic downfall was in full swing, and it was apparent that the County could use some help from its resident businesses and citizens to attract new economic investment – especially on the Internet.
While the Loudoun County Department of Economic Development (biz.loudoun.gov), the Economic Development Commission (EDC) and the Loudoun Chamber of Commerce are only just beginning to evolve their online marketing strategies, the Loudoun Convention & Visitors Association (LCVA - at visitloudoun.org), as an independent but government-supported entity, appears has actually made an inspired “Web 2.0” online impact in highlighting the value and attractiveness of investing for business in Loudoun. Outside of this activity and those of our own (as subject-matter experts in Loudoun County Internet Marketing and Media), there clearly existed very little substantial online activity on the part of the Loudoun business community in promoting the County.
Therefore, we challenged the Loudoun business community to use their own online assets and reach to help market the County as a great place to invest in business. That’s the core tenet of what’s now our 2009 KME Made in Loudoun County Online Business Leadership Award. "Award" winners will receive some free public recognition and online marketing exposure of their business (a purely voluntary and non-monetary recognition by us), in Loudoun County and the Northern Virginia/Metropolitan DC region.
After a year, it’s become evident that the only local industry (besides Online Marketers like us) most actively, aggressively and successfully promoting the core economic values of Loudoun County is the Residential Real Estate industry. This is probably to be expected, for by promoting Loudoun and its work/life values, real estate property is therefore more valuable. It was, however, interesting to discover that the Loudoun business community, aside from Real Estate, simply does not actively and voluntarily help to promote Loudoun online to the outside world – rather, it relies on the local EDC and Chamber of Commerce. Not only are real estate agents and brokerages most actively using the Internet and Social Media to cover and distribute Loudoun-centric hyperlocal news and information, but they’re also the only businesses who specifically call out Loudoun advantages to home owners and investors on their websites.
Note that the Commercial Real Estate industry did recently get a boost from the Loudoun Chamber of Commerce in late October, with their “Virtual Realty Tour” under the catch-phrase “Loudoun – Land of Opportunity”; but aside from a single Washington Post article and a few local media announcements, this marketing message was no further distributed or promoted online. A great comment from this forum came from a panelist who said “I still feel Loudoun doesn’t have a corporate image”. We’d point out that successful corporate and government images these days absolutely require a well-formed and actively maintained Internet presence, across ALL online media channels.
An excellent example of this can be found right to the east...the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority has made a lot of recent investment in its online presence and advertising. Add to this a recent announcement by Prince William County to form a public/private Economic Development Task Force to “rethink” the county’s current economic development strategy; Northern Virginia’s government-driven online business promotion and marketing competition is likely to get very competitive, very fast.
The recent Loudoun Chamber of Commerce Small Business Awards ceremony was another great opportunity to promote Loudoun businesses and market the economic vitality of the county – but unfortunately, no online or offline marketing of the event and winners was actually executed until many days after the awards – in fact, it was impossible to actually learn of the winners online until Leesburg Today’s video news update the Saturday afterwards.
The “Search Engine Optimized” (SEO) phrase we initially selected through marketing techniques was “Loudoun Virginia business DC location great community invest”. This keyword phrase was designed to catch most online instances of Loudoun businesses promoting the County. We searched the Internet using this phrase and many variations, using Google, Bing, Yahoo, SocialMention, Twitter, YouTube, etc. After monitoring this phrase and related ones for the past year, and filtering out all results that are either not relevant (for many reasons) or are directly attributable to our own efforts (or those of our clients who already promote Loudoun County, like Ingrid Myers, Northern Virginia Realtor), we can name this inaugural year’s Made in Loudoun award winners – note the winners are as reflected in online search results for the Loudoun business investment terms and topics we covered. For this first year of our initiative, there’s no absolute clear winner – so we’ll promote the single group of winners – the “KME Made in Loudoun Business Leaders”.
The “KME Made in Loudoun Business Leaders” are, in no particular order:
- Danilo Bogdanovic and Tony Arko (Market Advantage Real Estate)
- Heather Elias (Century 21 Redwood Realty)
- Kelly Gaitten (Prudential Carruthers Realtors)
- Marilee Murphy (Long & Foster Real Estate)
Profiles and comments from two of our winners...
Danilo Bogdanovic (http://LoudounScene.com - http://LoudounForeclosures.com - two of the originial Loudoun real estate blog sites.) Real Estate Consultant and REALTOR with Market Advantage Real Estate, specializing in real estate consulting and sales in Loudoun County/Northern Virginia. Focused on staying on top of today's housing market conditions and the latest technologies and tools in order to properly serve the best interests of buyer, seller and investor clients. Currently serving on various committees at the local and state REALTOR association level.
“Loudoun is an attractive place to relocate your existing business or to start your new business for a number of reasons. (1) The proximity and accessibility to the rest of Northern Virginia, Washington, DC and Maryland; (2) lower cost of real estate/rent (residential and commercial) than Fairfax County, Washington, DC and many other neighboring areas; (3) short and long term future growth within the county (residential and commercial sector; (4) demographics of county residents including median income; and (5) the strong need for more businesses in the county to serve the growing needs of local residents.”
Heather Elias (http://www.locomusings.com - “It's not just crazy talk!”) LoCo resident, wife, mother, and full time real estate professional and blogger with Century 21 Redwood Realty in Ashburn.
“Aside from LoCo's obvious close proximity to Washington DC and all of the benefits that entails, the people of Loudoun County are tremendously supportive to local businesses and extremely loyal. I love how Loudoun flows from an urban hub of activity in the east to beautiful vistas in the foothills of the western part of the county; there is something for everyone here”.
Note that no businesses we could find on the Internet, other than ourselves and these Realtors, significantly and explicitly promoted Loudoun County online as a great place to invest in, and move a business to – using online marketing techniques. We did find a few very appealing accounts of life and business in Loudoun on various other sites, but these were either too far down in the rankings to matter, or simply not optimized appropriately to reflect the intentions we were seeking. A notable cadre of local bloggers, Loudoun tweeters and social media experts are actively representing and highlighting Loudoun news and life online, but not necessarily with consistent, explicit or implicit Loudoun County business marketing messages.
What does this all mean? It’s essentially a 2010 New Year’s wake-up call to Loudoun’s business community, and the media, associations and government departments that cover or represent them. It’s also a great pat-on-the-back to all Realtors and Brokers who tirelessly promote (online and offline) the advantages of their local communities to incoming residents and businesses. It’s time to start promoting not only our own businesses, but those of our neighbors and the overall Loudoun County business environment.
For local and regional media, start evolving your hyperlocal news coverage by partnering with those who already know what’s going on around the county, and report about it online – i.e. the Real Estate community and those that market or represent them. It’s actually pretty easy – simply write, online, about how great investing in Loudoun County is, and how the community and business climate is working for us. Write this not on glossy printed brochures, full page color newspaper advertisements, in graphic-only banner advertisements (i.e. “banner ads”), buried in emails or on roadside signs – but write this on our collective high-traffic websites, blogs, twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and other Internet Media assets.
Ask your Loudoun Realtor, or Loudoun Internet Marketing and Media Firm, what you can do to promote your business and the community it represents. Search your website for the term “Loudoun” – hopefully something positive pops up, or will, soon – and your business will be the winner of the next valuable and prestigious “2010 KME Made in Loudoun County” award!
Made in Loudoun ™ is a marketing trademark of KME Internet Marketing, Loudoun County, VA.
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