Spring Cleaning: Marketing Methods to Keep or Toss when Targeting Site Selectors

Economic Development Marketing Site SelectorsIf you want expert insight into which marketing tactics will land you on a site selector’s radar, talk to Kate McEnroe, Principal, Kate McEnroe Consulting. At Consultant Connect’s recent Secrets of Site Selection annual conference in Dallas, Kate broke down which marketing practices you should keep in your arsenal and which you can shed this spring.

Kate is a huge proponent of focusing your marketing efforts on getting to know the individual consultant. This is a mobile industry, so investing in building one-on-one relationships vs. targeting specific firms is worthwhile. And the goal is to get information to the site selectors before a project is at stake. Here are some of Kate’s tips to keep in mind:

Be inspiring and stand out. If you want to have any shot at being unique, you can’t just copy what other economic development groups are doing—you’ll never be remembered. Inspiration should come from looking at creative campaigns outside the industry. And don’t think that telling consultants what your target industries are is inspiring… everybody has the same ones! Find your niche.

Tell me something I don’t know. Share news that indicates momentum or that is different than what may be expected from your community. Consider the “I’ve heard this before” test. Everybody is a “center” and “hot spot” for something. Narrow in on what your specialty is. Also, don’t shy away from sharing areas where you’re vulnerable—yes, it’s uncomfortable to address potential weaknesses, but it ultimately adds value.

Include the right information on your website. Listing your largest employers as the government, hospital and school is not helpful. Consultants want details on what companies are in your region, what their operations entail and how long the company has been operating in the community. Testimonials with real metrics are also extremely important. For example: “We came here needing 100 welders and were able to find 150 qualified employees from state technical schools in just one year.” Avoid cliché testimonials such as: “We love it here and you will too.” Also, an incentives calculator on your site is a plus.

Cut the promotional social media content. Sending promotional Tweets is not an effective social media strategy; it’s just advertising through a different channel and will not impress a consultant. Instead, build an online community that is posting quality content about your city, state or region, and direct us to those conversations.Something else that’s not effective: randomly trying to connect with us on Facebook or LinkedIn; site selectors will not be your “friend” or connection if we don’t know you.

Get to know us personally. When considering road shows or missions, target consultant-rich geographies like Atlanta, Dallas, Chicago, New York and even Greenville. Office meetings, group meetings and luncheons work really well. If you happen to be in town during a trade show week, realize that we receive a lot of meeting requests. These weeks are difficult and are probably not your best bet.

Sporting events are losing appeal. While some may have a different opinion, inviting consultants to sporting events is going “out of style.” Well-structured familiarization tours are really much more valuable in terms of showing off your community, region or state. If you are hosting a FAM tour, give us at least six weeks advance notice. And consider allowing spouses to attend – you might get better attendance.

Beware of the swag. Everyone likes presents but in the case of site selectors, the last thing we want is more mugs, hand sanitizers, umbrellas or catalogues with your logos on it. And please don’t mail us any print materials. You certainly don’t have to send anything, but if you do, leverage local products and make it memorable!

So stay competitive and fresh this spring by anticipating tough questions, being creative, submitting information before a project begins and ditching the tacky swag. Utilize Kate’s tips to step up your game and snag the next big project!

Want to know more about building relationships with site selectors? Check out these blog posts:

Why Relationships Matter: 4 Key Takeaways from Andy Shapiro Negotiating and Showcasing Incentives: 4 Tips from the Site Selectors Guild Tips for Site Selector FAM Tours
Why Relationships Matter: 4 Key Takeaways from Andy Shapiro Negotiating and Showcasing Incentives: 4 Tips from the Site Selectors Guild 8 Tips for a Memorable Site Selector FAM Tour


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Numbers Do Matter: How Metrics are Changing the Reporting Game

Metrics in Journalism - New MediaThe New York Times recently published a story titled, “Risks Abound as Reporters Play in Traffic,” which looks at the growing effect metrics have on journalism and reporting. As the realities of the new media landscape settle in, metrics are now part of the news agenda, and news organizations are adapting by shifting their compensation and even editorial policies. More and more news outlets are now adopting “pay per click” compensation models based upon the number of stories produced. Some key takeaways from the article:

  • Not Just Digital Upstarts Manage Reporters by the Numbers: While the article cites such digital outlets as The Daily Caller and TheStreet.com as examples of news organizations that are moving toward “pay per click” compensation, it also states that many traditional news outlets are also moving in this direction. The Oregonian, the heralded home of many Pulitzer Prize-winning projects, is in the midst of reorganization based on a company-wide initiative to drive more web traffic, increase page views and increase the number of daily posts. New policies require reporters to post new articles three times a day and to post the first comment under any significant article.
  • Metrics Will Have Significant Effect on News Itself: Now that everything can be measured, reporters have to keep an eye on both the quality of stories they write and the number of clicks their stories generate, a juxtaposition of two factors that often pull writers in opposite directions. Reporters have to find the fine balance between traditional reporting of informative stories and today’s buzzy “listicles” and quizzes that often yield a high number of clicks and audience engagement but “on an informational level… are mostly empty calories.”
  • “Journalism’s Status as a Profession is Up for Grabs”:  A viral story is no longer based on the credentials of the individual or organization writing the article. In today’s media ecosystem, readers decide what is important and worthy of sharing with their networks, and often times viral content is generated by the audience and not the reporter. There are a growing number of media outlets that are launching new platforms where anybody can publish a blog post, with monetary incentives for those who produce content that drive web traffic.

So what does this all mean for us place marketers?

1. We can no longer ignore the power of digital media. While the “traditional” print media will always have its place in the world of economic development marketing, the exponential growth in the digital space and the growing impact it has on reporters, their bosses and readership have evolved the role of digital media coverage from “good to have” to “must have.”

2. When pitching reporters our locations and story ideas, we need to be sensitive to the changes in their industry and how these changes alter their story needs. While our focus should be on informative story angles, to compete in today’s media environment we also need to find ways to pitch our communities with a potential viral twist in mind. Take for instance how Chattanooga faced off against Iron Man and won.

3. As many news organizations are placing quotas on the number of articles journalists need to produce during a period of time, there is more “editorial space” to fill, which means there is a growing pool of editorial opportunities and digital platforms to cover our locations.

What are your thoughts on the effects of metrics-based compensation for reporters?

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CFO Journal Predicts a Rise in 2014 Capital Spending

Capital spending in 2014Here’s some decidedly good news for economic developers.

According to CFO Journal, an online section of The Wall Street Journal, companies are now starting to loosen the purse strings and invest in new factories and equipment.

Two factors are driving the change: 1) a strengthened U.S. economy, 2) pressure from long-term investors for companies to invest in their own growth. On the latter point, here’s a quote from Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, Inc., one of the world’s largest money managers, in an open letter to C-suite executives:

“Too many companies have cut capital expenditure and even increased debt to boost dividends and increase share buy-backs. When done for the wrong reasons and at the expense of capital investment, it can jeopardize a company’s ability to generate sustainable long-term returns.” 

Click here for a link to the article. And if you have trouble navigating through the WSJ’s paywall, just shoot me a quick email and we’ll email you a copy of the article.

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Inc. Magazine Addresses America’s Skills Gap

Skills GapLeading small business magazine, Inc., examines in depth the oft-discussed topic of America’s skills gap in this month’s issue. Titled, “Where Have All the Workers Gone?” writer Cait Murphy argues that the gap is actually more myth than reality, citing several notable sources along the way.

“The only evidence of the skills gap,” says Peter Cappelli, an economist at the Wharton School’s Center for human Resources, “is employers saying ‘I’ve got a problem.’”

The story acknowledges that some specialty industries and geographies do have a particular shortage, but as far as the national picture goes, talent and skills are indeed plentiful. Instead, companies need to be more proactive: “Start training programs, pay competitive wages, and work with governments and community colleges. Maybe even be a little less picky,” Murphy writes.

Read it here, or if you’d like a copy as it appeared in the magazine, just email me and I’ll be happy to send you one.

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Negotiating and Showcasing Incentives: 4 Tips from the Site Selectors Guild

In the past two years, corporate incentives have been a hot topic of discussion for both the media and corporate executives. Regardless of whether incentives are perceived as “good” or “bad,” panelists at the Site Selectors Guild Conference believe incentives are both necessary and extremely important components of convincing a company to select your location. […]

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BuzzLead: April’s Potential Prospects For Your Lead Generation Program

Here at DCI, our lead generation team is always scrolling the daily, weekly and monthly news outlets to find companies indicating a potential site selection need in the coming years. Among the key factors that tip us off are mergers and acquisitions, new product offerings, and a change in C-level leadership. Starting this month, we’ll […]

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This Just In: The Wall Street Journal on the Battle for Tesla’s $5 Billion Battery Plant

“Make no little plans.” That seems to be the mantra of Tesla CEO Elon Musk. His decision to build a $5 billion battery plant employing a projected 6,500 workers has created quite a buzz among economic developers. Four Southwestern states – Texas, Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico – are in the hunt for the granddaddy […]

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Truce or Dare? Border Wars & Economic Development

The Economist  profiles a good old-fashioned showdown that has taken place over the years between two arch rivals, Kansas and Missouri. Titled, “The New Border War,” the article encapsulates a series of economic development “victories” for each side that have, in the end, rendered each state’s net jobs gain negligible and the lives of those […]

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Spring is Here (and So is a New Reading List for Savvy Economic Developers)

Spring is a great time to head outside and catch up on your professional reading. In the past, I’ve written two blog posts on books that should be on every economic developer’s reading list, and luckily, those posts, as well as a LinkedIn discussion on the subject, have spurred terrific suggestions from readers. My colleague, […]

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Rural Belknap County, New Hampshire, Taps Young Professionals to Help Bring Talented Grads Back Home

Located just two hours north of Boston, Belknap County is part of the Lakes Region in the center of New Hampshire, a small, rural area home to about 100,000 people and known almost exclusively for its tourism and hospitality industries. The median age of residents in the region is 44, and research completed in 2009 […]

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