“Placetelling” – an Effective Tool in Convincing the Target Markets

by Christer Asplund on October 5, 2011

The art of storytelling can help companies persuade and inspire more effectively was the message in Financial Times, September 27 this year. Sounds correct! However, the article could as well add that storytelling is also an important tool for places to communicate and inspire their target groups.

Tuttlingen-And-The-Castle-Of-HonburgIn the context of places I have always used to call the art of storytelling: “placetelling”. Complex organisations such as places – i.e. cities or regions – nuture from inspiring “placetelling”, where the sense of the place is made viable. It is also a matter of differentiation where the “placetelling” is the tool to communicate the ethos of the place in an intelligent manner. That is indeed an challenging art.

Financial Times refers to Stephen Denning, who have published five books on leadership and storytelling. The FT author quotes Denning: “If you think of all the great religious leaders, philosophers, generals, leaders, what do they have in common? They were all great storytellers”.

My experience is that successful place managers have also a sophisticated talent for “placetelling”. Not long ago I met the place manager number one in a small mountainous village in Turkey. The name of this remote and unique place is Tarakli. His “placetelling”, exerted during only one hour, was so professional that I will never forget the place. I have also continued to circulate his stories to my friends.

The trend towards “Slow City Living” is something that is popping in various forms in Europe and the US. In Tarakli the slow city ingredients are packaged beyond the expected standards. The “placetelling” focuses on all types of slow life and how it can be enjoyed in one and the same place. Consequently, he promised me that all alarm clocks were abandoned in the households! “You see, here we want to relax in the mornings – but we stay up in the nights instead and tell stories”. What a surprising story! What a tempting life, perhaps. At least you will never forget the visual attraction factor: no alarm clocks.

The positive point here is that “placetelling” is something that can be trained. What you need as place manager is a place context upon which the place story is based.

In summary the following recommendations are useful:

  • A place brand where certain attraction factors can make the messages viable.
  • Your “placetelling” must be relevant and in line with the mood of the audience.
  • There must be a unique dimension in the “placetelling”.
  • Make sure that you can show your own passion in the “placetelling”.
  • All “placeteeling” should be concentrated.

About Christer Asplund :

Specialist in the field of building more attractive investment infrastructures at local and regional places, innovative clusterbuilding and place marketing strategies.

Extensive capacity in linking practical experiences with more theoretical structures. Christer has since 1975 developed place branding plans for major and smaller cities throughout Europe, including for Barcelona and Catalunya (May 2006) and for the city of Shanghai (July 2006) and latest for some cities in Turkey under the coordination of Brandassist in Istanbul. These place branding plans have focused three target groups: investors, visitors and potential residents.

He has written several books and articles on regional development, industrial policy, innovations, science parks, information technology, place branding, place management, place development and place attraction. The latest book, Place Management, published in 2011, brings place leadership issues to life, with examples from many parts of the world. The first book, Place Hunting: the Art of Attracting New Businesses, was published at the beginning of the 1990s and gave rise to a succession of local and regional projects in Sweden and Norway. The next book, Place Hunting International, focused on the success factors of making a place attractive to investment. The third book, Marketing Places Europe, written in collaboration with Professor Philip Kotler, focused on market related aspects of place development. The original English edition has been translated into Russian, Chinese and Turkish. Has participated in teaching missions throughout Europe during 35 years. Has developed numerous teaching materials in fields like local and regional attraction building, place branding and lately also place management via the program Leadership for Growth.

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