Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Top 10 Mistakes District Managers Make

1. Staying in the office
Relationships grease the wheels of successful commercial district management. If you don't go out and meet your business owners, property owners and customers, how in the world can you serve them? How will you know how to deploy your resources most effectively to address the concerns that they have?

2. Trying to be everything to everyone
If your district were a car, what kind of car would you be? A trendy mini coop or a practical Toyota Sentry? You need to think of your district like a brand and focus your energies on delivering to your target customer - the kind of customer that makes up 80% of your base. In some cases that target customer is somewhat trendy and young, but in others that target customer is a family with young kids who is not likely going out drinking and dancing on a weekly basis. Embrace your customer and find better ways to meet their needs. Don't try to be something that you aren't.

3. Performance benchmarks? What performance benchmarks?
Failure to measure performance undermines your long term ability to leverage resources and convince naysayers of the impact of your efforts. The more you can communicate tangible improvements in your district, the more you can advocate for additional resources. Start small, show impact, win more converts...get bigger, show more impact, win more converts...it's a cycle that can repeat itself infinitely.

4. Failure to cultivate local media friends
You may be doing a wonderful job - but if nobody knows it, you've got a problem on your hands. You are a sitting duck for those who oppose your activities and are in a position to undermine your support at every level.

5. Events that undermine, or fail to generate, retail sales
I once worked with a district that held most of its events at a very nice park...two blocks from the main retail district. Not only that, but the events were held when most stores were closed. I'm not sure how this helped the downtown merchants, in fact I'm pretty sure that it didn't.

6. Mailing list? List-serve? What are those?
The most powerful contribution that you can make as a district manager is to sell your district to shoppers. In order to do that effectively you need to cultivate lists. You need to make sure you have an excellent database of shoppers and then you need to use that list effectively. These days that means not just email, but social media including Facebook and Twitter.

7. District identity crisis. Lack of a consistent brand. 
This goes along with "trying to be everything to everyone", you just can't. One major pet peeve of mine is a district that brands itself and a good place to "eat, work and play". That may be be true, but what distinguishes that from any other place.

8. A crappy, crappy website. 
Consider your website your digital business card. If you handed someone a business card that was torn, dirty and with misspellings, would you expect someone to call you for business? Outdated market information about your district, difficulty finding who to contact for more information, failure to manage and post news and information about events and activities...all of these make a website irrelevant. Unfortunately, if a crappy website is not getting much traffic,this is precisely what makes district managers think that websites don't need to be any good, because really, who's looking? It's a self-fulling prophecy.

9. Social media usage that misses the mark
The right social media strategy depends on your district identify and your customer base. You don't need to tweet extensively if your district is a convenience district where folks come to get milk and a bagel on Saturdays. But if you are a nightlife or restaurant destination, popular with younger people, building a twitter following and tweeting information about special events, time sensitive sales, and activities might be the way to go. Think of your social media strategy as a way to reach your customer - before you invest time and energy in a strategy, understand your customer and how they get information. In one community we work in, a large international population with young children makes Twitter and Facebook less important, instead we recommended that the BID partner with a local school and send notices home with school children about family-oriented events, activities and sales at local children's stores. This can be a win-win for everyone.

10. Poor PR
If a tree falls in a forest, does it make a sound? Too often great work goes under the radar, which ultimately undermines local district promotional efforts. Good PR includes maintaining communication and sharing your successes, because success breeds success. For example, ribbon cuttings are a great way to generate PR, and also to communicate to other potential tenant prospects that your district is a great place to start a business.

I'm sure there are many more...feel free to share!

1 comment:

  1. Failure to leverage partnerships with government, chambers of commerce, and visitor bureaus. Indeed, some district managers see these agencies as competitors and enemies. Will undermine district manager's reputation and the entire organization.
    David Diaz
    Raleigh - NC