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  • tenleyschwartz

Closed Loops

Updated: May 5, 2023

The whole goal of place marketing is to get people there. If someone says "I love your Instagram!" but never visits, it's a fail.

Or, to put it more gently, your marketing is incomplete.



The idea that's really attracting me right now is closed loop systems. Like a bulletin board full of memos in the office, it's set up so only the people who need it have access.

A place sets itself up nicely for that.

USPS has some pretty reasonable direct-mail prices.

You know I love a tiny specific book.

Why not use physical materials as an invite to a physical space?


Generally, at work, I've been pulled in to that social media mindset of "everyone can be the audience, they just have to find us!" Of course we have target audiences with their age ranges and interests, but it still feels like casting a wide net. Downtown orgs have social media best practices, and you MUST be on the platforms. Everyone is.

But those platforms are disintegrating. You know something's gone wrong when the powers that be are grasping for control in really bizarre ways (why is Facebook only giving me Reach and Video stats? Why can't I set a custom date range to collect metrics?) (The answer is that they want me to use their platform in their specific ways). I'm asking dangerous questions. What would marketing a place look like without Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram?



Sure, some form of digital advertising is necessary. But I think the zoning in on new methods could add some ease and even play to the whole process. Running social media accounts is like an endless stream of 'shoulds'. It's quick and cheap, which is great for experimenting, but also exhausting. It doesn't have to be everything (whew!)



A closed loop, where you set the audience and only message to them, has its own challenges. It's naturally limiting. You make an assumption on who your audience is and then you talk only to them. You'll naturally exclude by choosing your focus.


Benefits? You can be more effective the more specific you get. We can't please everyone, anyway, so we might as well get the info to our most effective audience. There's probably some combo of sending the message out to a specific audience (say three neighborhoods within 20 minutes of your summer festival) and the public anyone-can-see blast on social media.

A good blend contains an initial focus on inviting your niche, with room for anyone who it resonates with to slide in. This way, surprise audiences can find their way to you, too.


It's setting up the front porch for guests, but leaving open the back door for lingerers, slow joiners, and quiet interactions.






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