Springfield, Mo., Launches Talent Attraction Website Grounded in Research, Inspired by Pinterest

January 27, 2014

Springfield Missouri Talent Attraction CampaignMajor employers headquartered in Springfield, Missouri, such as O’Reilly Auto Parts and Bass Pro Shops, have no problem convincing candidates from across the country that they’re great companies to work for. Nor do they have challenges in converting potential hires into employees once they’ve visited Springfield and have learned all that this great community – a city of 450,000 – has to offer. The biggest issue that the area’s employers often face is simply getting on skilled professionals’ radar and then bringing them to town for a test drive. From there, the rest, as they say, is usually history, as talented workers are often blown away by the city’s amenities and quality of life.

In other words, it’s not that Springfield has a negative perception problem. It’s just that people often don’t know much about it.

That’s what the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce has been working to change for the past three years, and after much research, the organization just launched a new talent attraction initiative and website that aims to help potential new hires from outside the area consider relocating to Springfield. The campaign specifically targets established professionals, who often live hundreds of miles away and are being recruited for jobs in which a move includes a spouse or family.

DCI talked with Ryan Mooney, senior vice president of economic development for the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce & Springfield Business Development Corporation, which is leading the talent initiative, to learn more about Springfield’s path to creating a new talent attraction website and campaign.

Campaign Start Date: Springfield’s new site and campaign launched Jan. 24, 2014.

With the campaign launch last week, the chamber also wisely reached out to local media outlets to be sure residents know about the site through coverage in the community’s newspaper. Click here for a story in The Springfield News-Leader about the initiative.

Budget: $70,000 annually. Springfield has also spent $130,000 over the past two years to launch the campaign. Much of the funding comes from fundraising and investors.

What DCI Loves About Springfield’s Campaign:

The newly-launched site that’s designed to resemble Pinterest is packed with visually-pleasing, genuine photographs of real people, homes, universities, dining, things to do and much more. Developed through extensive and impressive research, Springfield took great care choosing the best details to include, and creating the right images. It paid off. The housing section is top-notch, with sections detailing various housing types and charts to show average Springfield home costs, and costs compared to other major U.S. cities.

Springfield successfully weaves facts and statistics throughout the site, which provide compelling data and background for potential job candidates. The cost of living section of the site is another great tool for those considering relocating.

Reason for New Campaign:

Springfield didn’t have a single website dedicated to relocation information, and initial research of their target market showed that web searches were how the majority – 78 percent – of people evaluated a potential job location, followed by the convention and visitors bureau, the chamber of commerce and news media.

Method to Establish Campaign:

Springfield’s new campaign is grounded in research that aimed to assess perceptions of the Springfield region. The Chamber hired a Springfield-based marketing firm to conduct detailed research, including focus groups and online surveys of people living within a 50- to 750-mile radius of Springfield who were willing to consider relocation. The community wanted to target potential residents who were relatively close enough that a move to the area wouldn’t be out of the question.

The campaign was also going to focus fairly closely on specific industries, so the research targeted individuals working for at least five years in the following industries: IT, health care, engineering and non-retail commercial/industrial sales industries.

Implementing the Talent Attraction Initiative:

Springfield’s research showed that people evaluate a community they might move to based largely on these five attributes:

  1. Safe City
  2. Easy to Get Around
  3. Low Housing Cost
  4. High-Quality Medical Care
  5. Vibrant Economy

Springfield ranks high on many of these factors – but compared to competitor cities, such as Dallas or Chicago, most people are unfamiliar with the Springfield region.

The chamber also learned that people generally don’t have a negative perception about the region, just no impression at all, so the talent attraction initiative aims to create a strong, positive image of the community that highlights the key assets that their community can offer and what people are using as criteria for their move, such as a vibrant economy and low housing cost. One message the site aims to relay loudly and clearly is that work-life balance is easier to attain in Springfield than other, larger cities.

Designing the Site:

Springfield wanted to steer clear of content and images that seem flashy or shallow. Genuine photographs of real people were important to establish a positive perception and tout the region’s vibrant economy, so leaders made sure to budget for good photographers who could create the best imagery.

The site is broken into Live, Work, Play and Learn sections, all featuring vibrant images, conversational text and an array of interesting facts/statistics about Springfield. The easy-to-use format is compatible with tablets and mobile devices, and Springfield is putting a lot of focus on search engine optimization. The site also includes a job search feature, where candidates can search by job title, keywords or company name.

What’s Next:

The launch of the website is only the start of Springfield’s talent attraction campaign. The city has plenty of plans in store for the future, including developing a print piece for distribution that will drive traffic to the site. Mooney also wants to start integrating video into the site, delve further into specific industries and add a social media component as well.

To learn more about Springfield’s talent initiative, click here.

Written by Sarah Reinecke

Sarah Reinecke is an Account Executive at DCI. Since joining the staff in 2013, she’s worked to tell the economic development stories of places that span from Salinas, Calif., to Wake County, N.C., and Calgary, Alberta, Canada, to the state of Indiana.

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