Make The Short List In Site Selection

Ed BurghardThe goal is to turn data into information, and information into insight.

Carly Fiorina, Former CEO of HP

In the 2014 DCI Winning Strategies in Economic Development Marketing Report, business executives cited incentives information as the most useful feature of an economic development organization’s website. That is what the data say.

If you think about the results, it isn’t altogether surprising. The Report suggests that 76% of the time a short list of potential location options is created without ever contacting a local economic development professional. The implication is that to a large extent, site selection teams evaluate locations based on publicly available data. Since incentive information is inherently local, it can only be uncovered through local contact. When it can be found on an EDO website the data fills in an important blank for the Team looking to compare project NPVs between location options. If it can’t be found, it is often easier to eliminate a location from further consideration than make the phone call to secure the information. That’s why I say it isn’t altogether surprising incentive data would be considered the most useful feature of an EDO website. This is the information you can glean from analyzing the data.

But, what is the insight?

You have the attention of a potential capital investor. This is priceless! You have information site selection teams want. Now you need to leverage that attention to create interest in your community so it gets included in the short list for phase II consideration.

It is critically important the website page with incentive information be designed to deliver a high conversion rate on a relevant call-to-action that creates interest. If the bounce rate on that page is high, then you have squandered a perfect opportunity to make a positive impression and emotional connection.

Think in terms of what influences executives. The DCI Report suggests 1) dialogue with industry peers, 2) credible third-party articles in influential publications (e.g. WSJ) and 3) business travel.

Dialogue with industry peers can lead to thoughts like testimonials of CEOs doing business in your community, an opportunity to pick up the phone and speak with a local executive, downloading a roundtable discussion publication of executives talking about the pros and cons of your community, etc.

Credible third-party articles might lead to thoughts like featuring a list of links to articles in the top publications where your community is featured.

Business travel could lead to thoughts like hosting industry conventions or working with local companies in your target industries to sponsor symposia on important industry topics, or collaborating with your local travel & tourism organizations to ensure visiting executives get a positive experience.

The above examples are intended simply to be conversation starters. The bottom line is to think strategically about how to capitalize on the attention providing incentive information creates and convert that attention into interest. There are many ways you can accomplish this, and the key is to select the one or two that make the most sense for your community. But whatever you do, don’t let the opportunity to make a positive impression pass you by!

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