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Social Media Marketing

Inside the Rebrand That Got Everyone to Move to Miami

April 15, 2021
Mae Rice

As remote work goes mainstream, cities need competitive brands more than ever. Miami’s Republican mayor, Francis Suarez, is seizing the moment and using a multi-channel strategy to reinvent his city.

Table of Contents

During the pandemic, Eight Sleep CEO Matteo Franceschetti never felt like he and his wife were shopping for a new city. Neither did House of Wise founder Amanda Goetz.

But as of July 2021, both Franceschetti and Goetz will have officially moved their households from New York City to Miami. 

First, they considered other options. Franceschetti and his wife thought about California, where she has family. Goetz and her three kids have spent the pandemic so far in North Carolina. 

Ultimately, Miami beat the alternatives.

The city won Franceschetti over back in April of 2020. Amidst the pandemic, Eight Sleep let the lease expire on its Manhattan office space expire and went remote-first.

Immediately, living in a small New York apartment stopped making sense to him and his wife.

“We wanted a healthier life with better weather,” he told MarketerHire. So they moved.

"We wanted a healthier life with better weather."

They’re not alone. Many Americans — millions, by some estimates — migrated to new states amidst the coronavirus pandemic. 

Florida was a popular destination, according to U-Haul data, and Miami specifically drew powerful business leaders. Think PayPal co-founder and Founders Fund partner Keith Rabois, and Shutterstock founder Jon Oringer — who lives in a sprawling home-slash-co-working-space once owned by Alex Rodriguez, The New York Times reports.

The Times hasn’t been the only outlet to cover Miami’s sudden influx of tech and business leaders. It’s spawned several trend stories.

In Bloomberg’s, Jonathan Levin and Amanda L. Gordon argue that thanks to a number of investment banks and tech companies opening offices in Miami, it could become “Wall Street South.” 

Or “Silicon Beach.” 

Whatever nickname sticks, Miami is clearly going through a renaissance — or a rebrand — right when many professionals are on the market for a new city. 

Even if they don’t exactly think of it that way.

Meet the mayor — a “brilliant marketer”

Though there’s no official tally of new Miami residents yet, here is one hard number from CNBC: This tweet from Miami mayor Francis Suarez got 2.3 million organic views.

This message suggests he’s simply supporting an organic groundswell of interest from Silicon Valley luminaries, but that doesn’t give him enough credit for what’s happening in Miami. 

He’s been laying groundwork for a tech boom in Miami for more a decade — even though he’s only been mayor since 2017.

He’s been doing that partially through savvy positioning: He thinks his business-friendly, low-tax approach to governing can attract entrepreneurs and tech leaders from Democratic strongholds.

In cities like New York and San Francisco, “[n]ot only are you seeing more and more of your money going to government, you’re seeing more of your money going to a government that doesn’t want you,” Mayor Suarez told The New York Times. “So it’s like a double whammy.”

Life in Miami, by contrast? Whammy-free.

It’s a compelling pitch. As Goetz put it:

There’s a bit of the C-Suite in his persona, too. “He’s running the city like a CEO runs a product company,” Goetz told MarketerHire, “and he’s using social media as a marketing channel.”

Franceschetti echoed the sentiment. “It has been refreshing to see a leader of a city that has the attitude of a CEO of a startup,” he said.

"It has been refreshing tosee a leader of a city that has the attitude of a CEO of a startup."

(Mayor Suarez was, in fact, CEO of Edge Title Company, a real estate firm, before transitioning into politics, according to his LinkedIn.)

It's his marketing savvy that stands out right now. As remote work becomes mainstream, and successful people become increasingly mobile, he’s recognizing the shift in the market — and spreading the word about Miami with a multi-channel marketing strategy.

The Miami 2.0 message

What word is Mayor Francis spreading about Miami? Not exactly the message in Will Smith’s 1997 hit “Welcome to Miami.” 

Smith did really capture Miami’s brand at the time, though. Historically, the city has been best known for its beaches, nightclubs, art scene and… retirees. 

As Smith put it: “No work, all play.”

No longer.

The messaging around Miami today has shifted, Franceschetti and Goetz both reported. It’s more like “Work hard, then relax,” or “Work hard, from a boat.”

The brand that drew Franceschetti and Goetz has little to do with Art Basel or clubbing. Instead, the three pillars of Miami’s appeal seem to be the outdoor recreation, the balanced lifestyle and the entrepreneurial community. 

The entrepreneurial community.

This tweet crops up in stories about migration to Miami: 

Goetz echoed Rabois’ sentiment. In Miami, she’s in WhatsApp groups and email chains. She’s in a Twitter DM group for founders who play golf. Transplants want to connect with like-minded fellow transplants — and Mayor Suarez helps introduce them to each other.

“It feels like what New York felt like… when the startup scene really took off” back in the early 2010s, she said: crackling with possibility and social energy, even during the pandemic.

In fact, some of Goetz’ acquaintances from that New York scene moved to Miami before she did.

The outdoor recreation.

This means beaches, year-round sunshine, jet skis — and, for Franceschetti, tennis courts.

“I started having a lot of meetings playing tennis on Sundays,” he said. In crowded, cold New York, tennis was a rare luxury, not a weekly staple.

Goetz, a mother of three, was also drawn to the balmy temperatures and outdoor activities. “Year-round outdoor weather sounds great for my kids.”

The balanced lifestyle. 

Franceschetti can be found at a nightclub precisely never, but he said Miami, which already has its share of wellness resorts and beachfront yoga classes, could become a hub for wellness as well as business.

Goetz echoed the sentiment. For founders, she said, “one of the value props of Miami is that you can build and do all the things that you were doing, but also take care of yourself and have a healthy lifestyle.”

The mayor’s marketing channels

So, how exactly is Mayor Suarez getting this three-part message out? Like any savvy marketer, he isn’t relying on any one channel. By our count, he’s tapped more than five.

Twitter

Mayor Suarez has more than 75,000 Twitter followers, and uses the platform religiously — and strategically. 

He’s perhaps best known for using his Twitter to share #CafecitoTalks — short, videotaped conversations with local and visiting entrepreneurs, including Barstool Sports’ Dave Portnoy, the Winklevoss twins, and Franceschetti.

Named for a Cuban espresso drink, the videos function a bit like a miniature talk show, and they’ve racked up hundreds of thousands of views. 

(Portnoy’s installment alone got more than 400,000 views on Twitter.)

These conversations are just one of the many ways Mayor Suarez uses Twitter, though. He has also used the platform to announce Miami’s new embrace of bitcoin, retweet job openings and dispatches from impressed visitors, and show off his comedic timing.

In the wake of his popular “How can I help?” tweet, which he has called a “J curve moment,” he even started promoting a line of “How can I help” t-shirts on Twitter. They’re currently spotlighted in his pinned tweet and Twitter bio; proceeds go to a local tech magnet high school.

One-on-one conversations

The mayor doesn’t just chat on Twitter and over videotaped cafecitos — he’s available for private conversations, too. 

“I'm going to Miami in two weeks and I'm getting coffee with him,” Goetz said when we spoke in early February.

Franceschetti also commented on how communicative Mayor Suarez is. 

“If you reach out to him, he will get back to you,” he said. “The few times I tried to reach out to [other mayors]...  I never got an answer.”

Cross-promotion with local entrepreneurs

Mayor Suarez does this through his #CafecitoTalks, obviously — he promotes them, and so do his guests — but it’s bigger than that. 

He’s already partnered with Franceschetti’s Eight Sleep on two ventures, and Franceschetti has lived in Miami for less than a year.

One is a physical place: The Eight Sleep Suite, a suite in Midtown Miami’s Hyde Hotel outfitted with Eight Sleep’s signature Pod, a smart mattress that autonomously heats, cools and tracks your biometrics.

Mayor Suarez is always up for partnering on “win-win ideas,” Franceschetti said, and this one fits the bill: it adds to Miami’s techie allure, and fosters interest in Eight Sleep’s products.

Another collaboration? A discount on Eight Sleep mattresses for entrepreneurs freshly moved to Miami.

It’s an incentive to immigrate to Miami, and an incentive to buy from Eight Sleep. Win-win.

Out of home

Like, way out of home. This billboard was spotted in San Francisco recently:

Full disclosure: The Mayor didn’t actually buy this billboard, according to his office. (He leans more into organic marketing channels than paid ones.) It was bought by an as-yet anonymous fan, and the featured tweet is nowhere to be found on Twitter.

But, the offer is real.

YouTube

This is a nascent channel for the Mayor — so far, he has just over 200 subscribers, and his channel only started posting three weeks ago — but it’s a natural second home for his #CafecitoTalks.

Other channels. 

These include earned media (remember those trend stories?), a verified Instagram (where he actually has more followers than he does on Twitter) — and word of mouth so powerful, it deserves a section of its own.

Turning transplants into brand evangelists

As the mystery billboard above illustrates, Miami residents want to promote their city. At least one of them will pay to spread the word about Miami in a more established tech hub.

Others spread the good news about Miami within their personal and professional networks. 

“I’m inviting all my friends,” Franceschetti said. “I say, ‘Look, just come and check it out. See the type of life you can have… and the quality of the tech people that you will be surrounded by.’”

To an outsider, it looks like every business leader that moves to Miami becomes a brand ambassador for the city — and Goetz sees a grain of truth in that.

“This is influencer marketing,” she said. The influencers, in this case, are just VCs and founders; Mayor Suarez has brokered influencer-like partnerships with them.

Or maybe living in Miami turned them into brand ambassadors organically. A city is “like social media — it has an inherent viral loop,” Goetz said. “I want my friends to come to Miami because that makes Miami better for me.”

"I want my friends to come to Miami because that makes Miami better for me."

In much the same way, Instagram users want their friends to join the platform — the more friends, the more “social” the social media.

Miami’s viral loop isn’t a purely social one, either. It’s also professional — think Instagram mixed with LinkedIn. (Maybe that’s Twitter.)

“If more people come here, it will be better for my job,” Franceschetti said.

Specifically, he hopes to see a healthy mix of investors, established companies, startups and founders in Miami soon. Once the city has a top-to-bottom business ecosystem, with thriving companies of all stages, settling down there “will become a no-brainer.”

For him, it already is. Goetz plans to move in July and test Miami out for a year, but Franceschetti and his wife are fully committed to it already.

“We’re here to stay,” he said.

Mae Rice
about the author

Mae Rice is senior editor at MarketerHire. A long-time content marketer, she enjoys interviewing marketing experts and learning about the weird and wonderful feedback loops that connect marketing and culture. She also loves any ad that makes her say "Huh?!" — especially Tim and Eric's ad for Totino's pizza rolls, which she watches way more often than you would think.

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