|Tourism - 2007 Issue|
|Business Development - 2007 Issue|
|Community Development - 2007 Issue|
Business Development - 2007 Issue
An important best practice in the field of investment attraction is to determine and quantify what works for your community and what doesn’t. Tough economic times call for implementing economic-development programs with the highest likelihood of demonstrable success.
Most successful economic development organizations have sound performance objectives as their starting point. This means not only tracking final results, but also the effectiveness of your various approaches to generating and converting leads, prospects and locates.
Fortunately the Web is an ideal medium for publishing information, inviting responses and measuring how much interest is generated. Clear goals or key performance indicators should be established for all investment-attraction websites.
To help you know whether your goals are being achieved, you need 3 things:
• Historical stats and documented, defined goals,
• Access to detailed website visitor statistics,
• A statistics review and analysis schedule with a feedback mechanism.
The economic-development department should conduct regular reviews of online visitors and their behaviour patterns. These need to be tracked, documented and analyzed. Search terms and keywords, most visited pages, and most requested information are just some of the data that needs to be recognized and then worked into the implementation of the online marketing plan.
An investment-attraction website is an evolving marketing channel and every site must plan for continuous improvement. Visitor behaviour will provide information on what’s working, what needs to be improved and what needs to be changed, deleted or added.
Very precise data can be collected for specific marketing campaigns. A banner ad campaign or an e-mail campaign will often be designed with more than one type of creative concept -- for example, you might try three or four different headlines. Each headline can be monitored and tracked separately, producing near real-time results. You can then adjust the campaign and increase the use of the most effective headline.
To enhance measurement of an online advertising campaign, it is often helpful to create a website page that is linked only to a specific online marketing promotion. For example, clicking on a banner ad would take a prospect to a page inside your site, rather than your home page. When analyzing your visitor traffic, you can see clearly which visitors came directly as a result of the campaign.
We can often learn more from our failures than from our successes. Don’t neglect to carefully track any portions of your site that don’t attract many visitors – before you replace them. This information helps to repair any deficiencies and to become more competitive in the future.
Statistics tracking and analysis principles can also be applied effectively to Web 2.0 technologies such as social networking sites. MySpace, Facebook and similar sites create networks through profiles and common interests. It is easy to measure how many people join a network of discussion about a topic initiated by your economic development department.
Blogs lend themselves readily to measurement. A blog is a regularly updated commentary on a particular subject intended for a specific target audience. If you set up a blog on your investment-attraction site to discuss business opportunities in your community, you can measure not only how much interest it attracts but how much interactivity and lead generation it produces.
Finally, YouTube is ideal for reaching out to the market in a measurable way. Set up your own profile, publish as many videos as you like and watch the number of views climb in real time.
Ultimately all of these measurements will need to be scored against the bottom line – the number of genuine investment opportunities they bring to your community. Make sure that you ask all prospects how they heard about the opportunity. Better still, ask them to rate your various forms of communication!
Economic times are tough, to be sure, but the electronic forms of communication and measurement available to economic developers today represent opportunities never before available.
Anya Codack, CEO
Phone: 416-977-9724 x 509
Business Development - 2007 Issue
The economic recession is likely to cause many companies to cancel or delay decisions on business expansion and investment. Nevertheless they will remain on the lookout. When conditions improve they will remember those communities that have retained an attractive, optimistic and cooperative image through their communications.
So the need for economic development does not disappear during tough times, far from it. But cost-effective strategies and methods are required for getting the word out.
A traditional approach to investment attraction includes a heavy emphasis on publication advertising, direct mail, tele-prospecting and collateral mailing. This approach is costly, difficult to measure and time consuming to implement effectively. Today’s marketing strategies can take advantage of both tried and new Internet channels, using the Internet as a primary vehicle for image creation through the dissemination of facts, stories and anecdotes about a community – all with the intent of creating interest, thereby attracting people and businesses.
The Internet has become the number one tool for businesses and site selectors in their location search. It provides the ability to publish easily and frequently and at low cost. Announcements, events, blogs, online newsletters, business success stories, news and profiles will all help your community stand out as being a vibrant, dynamic place with a lot going on.
Here are some web-based communications channels that you should consider as part of your marketing strategy:
A podcast is a series of audio or video digital media files distributed over the Internet. It works by setting up a connection between a producer’s website and a subscriber’s computer or portable device so that shows can be downloaded automatically as they are produced.
Podcasting is an increasingly popular method for building a loyal audience. A typical podcast series can consist of four- to 10-minute segments on topics of interest to specifically identified business sectors. Brief interviews with local entrepreneurs can be included to provide facts, stats, comments and anecdotes. In addition to sending them to subscribers, your department can disseminate them online through podcast websites.
Here’s a little research exercise: Try going to www.youtube.com and typing some keywords into the search box, such as “Canadian industrial properties” or “business location opportunity.” You will see page after page of video summaries appear. Social-networking sites like this are fast becoming ubiquitous business marketing tools in the same way that the web itself became a mainstay of business in the 1990s.
Video is an excellent method for distributing entrepreneurial success stories and capturing the ambience and spirit of a business community.
Sending promotional e-mails to site selectors is inexpensive and effective if done professionally and with care. With e-mails you can "push" your message to a chosen audience, as opposed to waiting until a viewer sees an advertisement. E-mail messages are very easy to track, so you can measure the return on your investment.
What you need to avoid, of course, is the impression that you are distributing spam. One effective technique is to require what is known as the "double opt-in" method of requiring a potential recipient to manually confirm their request for information from you. Numerous e-mail marketing companies are available to help with such issues and to assist in creating formats and templates.
Site selectors and consultants don’t have much time. If they have obtained sufficient information about your community from your website to put you on their list of prospects, consider sending a detailed package on an inexpensive mini-CD instead of in a bulky folder.
The great advantage of this method is its convenience to the recipient. A little disc is easy to store and retrieve. Most importantly for professionals in a hurry, it is searchable by topic or keyword in seconds. Site-selection consultants will tell you that potential communities are sometimes left off their short lists for clients because it is too time-consuming to find information about them.
Economic-development programs should take advantage of new online social media and dissemination channels to reach target sectors and businesses. A web 2.0 program is increasingly necessary. The impact of blogs, wikis, tagging and social-networking sites is increasing every day in business life.
An ideal channel for reaching audiences in a cost-effective way, Web 2.0 makes it possible to disseminate messages, video, audio, testimonials and stories and to reach either broad or narrow audiences.
In conclusion, tough economic times require not retrenchment, but a renewed approach to economic development that stresses creativity and energetic ways to proclaim your community’s advantages.
The Internet offers new ways to get the word out – faster, cheaper and more targeted. It is clear why this channel must become the principal tool in your marketing toolbox if you need to build a modern, sophisticated image for your community – one that will be remembered when it’s time for action.
Anya Codack, CEO
Phone: 416-977-9724 x 509