Whether it’s the millions of Facebook and Foursquare check-ins happening daily, constantly-improving online search technology, or thousands of online reviews each hour for geographically-limited products and businesses, place matters. As companies rapidly expand their online portfolios and look to do even more with mobile in the coming years, geo-location software and technology will be developed to connect people with products in very specific places.
Much is made of selling the right things to the right people at the right time. Not nearly enough attention is being paid to doing all of those things in the right place. Yes, major retailers have brick-and-mortar locations in key markets around the country. And I know all major manufacturers do targeted product launches and specials based on market. But where is the true emphasis on place?
If Jim, a forgetful husband wrapping up a business trip in Spartanburg, South Carolina, realizes less than three hours before his flight home to Chicago that his 12-year wedding anniversary is tomorrow, is an e-mail marketing campaign or a coupon code going to help him that much? Probably not. But having a mobile-friendly e-commerce site with reviews and a store locator just may.
For a glance at how important place should be in all business segments, look at creative industries like music, film and technology. These just so happen to be the creative spaces Austin thrives in, so I have some local examples.
It doesn’t just matter that you come to South by Southwest to debut your new album. It also matters that you plant a flag in Austin as a city you’ll build and maintain a fanbase and market to differently than a city like Houston or Nashville. Austin is the kind of place where artists gain more credibility and buzz in exchange for smaller paychecks.
Waterloo Records is a regular spot for in-store performances by bands like Spoon and Reckless Kelly, and Austin City Limits Festival, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this September, is viewed as a career-highlight gig for many indie bands. So why come to Austin and take the smaller paycheck? You won’t get to play the two best-known festivals in the second-largest state in America without a local following.
In film, whether it’s the Harry Potter series or a small indie flick, there are tons of place-based decisions. For starters, you have to shoot the film somewhere. While Hollywood is the beacon of film in the world, cities like Austin, New Orleans and New York are working overtime to get studio executives and directors interested in leaving Tinseltown.
Director Peter Berg took a big risk during the early production meetings for the TV version of Friday Night Lights and decided to film the show in Austin. He stated, “I fell in love with Austin,” as a primary reason. I’m sure it made for easier casting for extras to play high school and college-bound football players than L.A., too.
In technology, as we can attest, place is at the center of all things talent-related. Every technology executive knows how important talent is and it’s a sometimes friendly, but fierce, competition for top developers, engineers and business leaders.
For years, the Bay Area and Seattle have been the beacon of Internet R&D talent, from Microsoft and Netscape to Apple and Google to Facebook and Twitter. However, many of these companies quickly realized the need to find another city to open up in and discover new talent. To Austin, they came.
Of course they did. Every year there are thousands of students graduating from the University of Texas at Austin, favorable and longstanding legal and tax conditions in the state of Texas, and census data showing Austin attracting more 25-to-34 year olds than any other U.S. city. And, of course, everyone loves Austin’s live music scene, TexMex and sunny weather.
Since place matters, we’ll toot our own horn a little bit and remind potential job seekers that Bazaarvoice just so happens to be the reigning Best Place to Work in Austin, one of the best cities in the world. Check out our job listings for more.