GHP strategic plan and marketing HoustonLast week, the Greater Houston Partnership released its new 10-year strategic plan, a process they last went through 14 years ago. The Chronicle covered it, including a call for regional cooperation, and also did their own op-ed on it.
It's ambitious, to say the least, calling for 600,000 new jobs and $60 billion in capital investment over the next decade. It aspires for Houston to be a powerful business magnet, an international business and logistics hub, known for strong infrastructure and quality of life, one of the top four regions in the U.S. for business, and even an Alpha World City. They want to focus on 10 industries clusters: aerospace, alternative energy, biotechnology, education, energy, entrepreneurial enterprises, health care, information technology, nanotechnology and petrochemicals. I was somewhat surprised not to see energy trading mentioned in there, which would give us some financial industry muscle the same way agricultural commodities trading does for Chicago. But on the whole, I think it's a strong "stretch vision" for our city.
This is the part that most caught my interest:
To help it meet its goal, the partnership has enlisted Astros owner Drayton McLane to head up Opportunity Houston, which hopes to raise $30 million for a marketing campaign that will generate leads on businesses interested in relocating here.Branding Houston is something I've discussed here before, so, as a marketing amateur but someone who has a reasonably good grasp of Houston's selling points, I thought I'd make my best pass at how I think Houston's identity should be branded. Something that would hit on our competitive differentiators: entrepreneurialism, affordability, diversity, transportation connectivity, mild winters, restaurants, friendliness, openness, and a sense of community unity (recently reinforced by the Katrina publicity). I also wanted to come up with something that was equally effective for three audiences: attracting businesses, attracting talented people, and reinforcing local pride and identity.
So here's the very rough concept (within the formatting limits of Blogger) of what a magazine ad might look like in the national or international media (by the way, a side message to the GHP: I highly recommend the Economist magazine for efficiently reaching heavy hitters around the world).
Where can we find...
...the entreprenurial energy and diversity of an international talent pool, without the exorbitant costs of New York or California?
...the nonstop destinations of a top 10 global hub airport, without blizzard delays or coast-to-coast red-eyes?
...the cultural and culinary amenities of a vibrant big city, but with the authentic friendliness and heart of a small community?
(insert map here of Texas or North America or the world with a star for Houston centered in the map, in addition to some promotional pictures)
The international energy industry chose Houston as their capital, establishing it as a global crossroads and blessing us with an unmatched combination of urban assets.
Care to draft in their wake?
Texas' Open City of Global Opportunity
- Opens with our most world-famous phrase to get attention
- Really hits on our strengths in a concise way
- Clearly differentiates us - can you name another U.S. city that meets all the criteria? (keep in mind Phoenix, Dallas, and Atlanta have a far less internationally diverse talent pool).
- The middle airport point may seem sort of minor compared to the other two, but let me tell you, it is definitely a big deal to the frequently-traveling top executives of companies. I've heard several people over the years mention the benefits of a central-time-zone hub when it comes to avoiding those all-day or red-eye coast-to-coast flights. And just to clarify: we're not quite a global top 10 airport for passengers or flights, but we are for nonstop destinations (181, in the top 3 in the U.S.).
- It gives non-energy companies a reason to consider Houston: because of all the great benefits enabled by the energy industry
- The final tag line: integrates the powerful brand of Texas, our globalism, Mayor White's "City of Opportunity" theme, and our fundamental openness, which is the best single word I can come up with to sum up our friendliness, hospitality, entrepreneurial energy, minimal regulations (including no zoning), open-mindedness, diversity, social mobility, optimism, and charity.