Dean Barber

Dean Barber is the President and Founder of Barber Business Advisors, LLC. Dean’s practice focuses on Site Selection Analysis and Economic Development Consulting. Dean’s practice differentiates itself on delivering superior customer service. One statement in particular on Dean’s website caught my eye – “The simple truth is that our integrity, our reputation to serve you better, means more to us than any contract.” It is only fitting Dean provides his perspective to help you deliver better service to Site Selection Consultants and Business Executives looking to make a capital investment.

Play To Your Strengths

In the classic western movie “The Outlaw Josey Wales,” the protagonist was always looking for “an edge” in order to prevail against people trying to do him harm.

For example, Wales would approach pending conflict with the sun at his back and so as to have his enemies squinting, to their disadvantage.

There might be something apropos here for economic developers competing in the wild and wooly environment of industrial recruitment. And while I may be stating the obvious, I have so little pride that I will restate it – play to your strengths, be cognizant and honest about your weaknesses, and always keep in mind your credibility.

Do not claim that your community is the best fit for all projects to come down the pike. It is simply not so and claiming as much will have me looking at you askance. Still, I see it over and over again on economic development organization’s websites and their marketing materials. Essentially, they are making this outlandish claim:

“Come here because we are perfect for you, even though we don’t who you are or what you do.”

Ed Burghard talks of place branding as a promise, which I think is accurate. So here is a piece of advice, don’t overpromise, don’t overreach. In short, don’t say stupid things.

But you may, indeed, have an edge on certain projects, so it is incumbent on you to show that, demonstrate that more than tell that, when you are so meticulously answering the questions as posed by a consultant in an RFI.

Yes, answer the questions and be succinct about it. Reduce the hyperbole and gain credibility.

Finally, realize that your place, like every place, has a story to tell. Indeed, your place is a story. Take Burghard’s advice and identify people in your community who can relate that story of place in meaningful way and not come off as a used car salesman.

People think in terms of narratives – stories — and even with the numbers crunching, there an emotional aspect of site selection. That’s because we are human. It’s why we go to communities to a get a feel for the place.

Your story, your credibility, your edge is what can win projects.

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