322 Corporate Executives Share Insights On What Works in Place Marketing

How do executive decision makers learn about specific business locations? What are the best marketing tactics for economic development organizations to engage in to build a favorable image with this important audience?

For the sixth time since 1996, Development Counsellors International has surveyed corporate executives with site selection responsibilities to determine which marketing techniques help shape their perceptions of a community’s business climate.

The latest 2011 report, “A View from Corporate America: Winning Strategies in Economic Development Marketing” analyzes the changes in the behaviors and perceptions of corporate decision makers in the United States.

Our executive summary  highlights some of the most interesting key findings, but we encourage you to click on the links below to learn more including where executives are getting their news, how they are using online sources, information they consider most useful when looking at an economic development organization’s website and of course the states they perceive to have the best and worst business climates.


Best and Worst States for Business

DCI’s “Rating of the States” has consistently received intense attention from both the news media and the economic development community.

To determine which states are winning the “perception” contest, we asked survey respondents to name three states perceived as having the most favorable business climates in the United States. We also asked the same audience to select the three states they perceive as having the least favorable business climates among the 50 states.

The Top Five

1. Texas 49.4%
2. North Carolina 27.8%
3. South Carolina 14.3%
4. Tennessee 13.9%
5. Florida 13.5%

The Bottom Five

50.  California 70.5%
49.  New York 46.5%
48.  Illinois 24.4%
47.  New Jersey 23.5%
46.  Michigan 16.1%

The list of “least favorable business climates” has remained remarkably consistent over the years. California and New York have swapped the first and second place spots on this list since DCI first conducted the survey in 1996, with California in first place and New York in second place since 2002.

Why did the respondents select these states? What qualities are associated with a winning business climate?

Common themes of low operating costs and a pro-business environment emerge for the top five. Positive responses emphasized costs, low taxes and incentive offerings, while negative opinions cited high taxes, anti-business climates and fiscal problems/state deficits.

Best Marketing Techniques for Reaching Corporate Executives with your Business Message

Since its inception in 1996, the “Winning Strategies” survey has asked respondents to rate the effectiveness of seven conventional marketing techniques used by economic development groups.

Looking at responses over time, we see the steady rise of using the Internet as a marketing technique.

In 2011, this technique dips slightly to allow planned visits to corporate executives to recapture the top spot.

Separating responses according to the three subgroups of the survey pool reveals that location advisors gave higher marks to all of the marketing techniques, with the exception of trade shows and advertising. Midsize corporate executives rated Internet/website as the most important marketing tactic, while large companies rated planned visits to corporate executives highest.



Planned visits to corporate executives




Hosting special events


Trade Shows


Media Relations/ Publicity




Direct mail




Methodology and Audience

The survey audience consisted of a random selection U.S. companies with annual revenues of $25 million or more. The survey targeted executives with direct site selection responsibilities and was heavily weighted toward the following business titles: Chief Executive Officer, President, Chief Financial Officer and Vice President. The sample was augmented with an additional survey audience of 250 location advisors/consultants.

The survey was conducted completely online.  Respondents were contacted via email and invited to participate in the survey. A hyperlink to access the online questionnaire was provided and the choice of a $10 Starbucks Card or a $10 iTunes Card was offered for participation. Click here for a copy of the questionnaire.

In all, 322 responses were received, 82 percent of which were C-level corporate executives. Respondents were categorized as “large company executives,” “midsize company executives” and “location advisors.”

All surveys were edited for completeness and the responses to open-ended questions were coded.

It is important to note this survey, and all preceding “Winning Strategies” surveys, are studies of perceptions.  A perception is an attitude, belief or impression and not necessarily a reflection of reality. Business executives have certain identifiable opinions and beliefs about doing business in the United States and throughout the world. Some of these perceptions may be accurate and some may be genuine misperceptions.