First Build Your Wave and The Ride It

I recently read a summary of the book The Momentum Effect authored by J.C. Larreche. The focus of the book is how to gain momentum, sustain it and then harness it for superior business performance. There are a number of concepts in the book that I felt had meaningful reapplication potential in place branding.

It all starts with compelling insight. There are no short cuts to success. Nothing substitutes for a deep understanding of your target audience needs and a clear appreciation for how your location can meet those needs. This requires you to see your community through their eyes instead of yours. Often this is easy to say and yet difficult to do. We all have a romanticized perspective of our own community and are blind to many of its idiosyncrasies. We sometimes write them off as misperception or lovable quirks. However, truly seeing our location through the eyes of our targets can have a powerful impact on place branding decisions and can often be the difference between success and failure (example –

Power offers are key to effective place selling. A power offer delivers a compelling proposition to a target. It helps the target understand why your location is ideally suited, if not uniquely suited, to meet their location needs. It explains the value of your location and you should be able to articulate it in just a few words. The best power offers connect on both a practical and emotional level. Examples of power offers include Alaska (Beyond Your Dreams, Within Your Reach); Maine (The Way Life Should Be); and Mississippi (Feels Like Coming Home).

You need to satisfy potential investors before you can create a positive emotional connection with your place. Often we do not take the time or make the investment to build a positive relationship with target investors. We assume they will like our location despite the fact that we have done little to help them experience it. Taking the time to establish that personal connection is critical to capturing their heart in addition to their mind. Familiarization visits are a tactical example of investing time to properly introduce a potential investor to your community. But, even this tactic will fail if phone calls are not returned in a timely manner, current and accurate data is not provided, or the potential investor’s requests are unheeded. We need to pay attention to the old saying “It is hard to please and angry man”.


  1. Focus on value. Know your location’s value as seen through the eyes of the investor and focus on investing in initiatives that further strengthen that value.
  2. Pay attention to the feedback. Insights gleaned from conversations with potential capital investors should be treated like precious gifts and listened to.
  3. Add value with every interaction. Always look to provide something of value to your potential capital investor. Every phone call, every email, every request offers an opportunity for you to deliver added value that can set your location apart from the competition. Take advantage of the opportunities.
  4. Always show respect. Respect your potential investor’s time, intelligence and desire to find the best solution. It will be returned.
  5. Invest quality time. Economic development is about people. It is about helping find the right solution for a company and inviting their employees to become active and caring members of your community. It may sound counterintuitive, but if your location is not a good fit, then it is actually a win:win outcome if the company selects a different place that better meets their needs.
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