States, counties and regions are tasked with not only attracting tourists, but also communicating their array of advantages and benefits for businesses and industries. Usually, an Economic Development Department is charged with growing jobs and tax revenues by promoting its region as an ideal business destination. With this in mind, it is important to advertise the economic advantages of the region, providing interested parties with the data they need to make the critical decision about whether it’s the right place for their business.
The leading marketing method to reach out to site selectors, corporate officers and business owners is an interactive economic development website. The International Economic Development Council (IEDC)(1) recognizes websites as “…a crucial business attraction tool” in its monthly publication, Economic Development Now. In addition, a nationwide study of economic development professionals rated websites as the leading marketing tool. In fact, 82% stated that their website was the most effective investment to reach prospective new businesses.(2)
Not only does a region’s economic development website need to be up to date, visually attractive and engaging, but it should also begin a partnership with the prospective party reviewing the region. Whether prospects are on their mobile devices or at their office laptops, the economic development site should effectively communicate the region’s economic data, statistics, sites of interests, incentive programs and other vital information required by site selectors to make business decisions.
How do you bring this economic decision-making partner to life? Take advantage of specific best practices that help separate the leaders from the pack. Dana Communications performed a comparative study of over 30 of the nation’s most effective economic development websites.(3) This study was also evaluated against prestigious “Top 10” lists from organizations like the IEDC and top-performing Google search results in economic development. According to the study, as well as the cited references, the following are the most important website features to site selectors and others researching potential new business locations:
• Land sites and buildings inventory (91%)
• Labor force information (91%)
• Demographic reports (90%)
• Infrastructure (86%)
• Maps (85%)
• Major industries or business industry clusters (83%)
• Contact information (83%)
• Incentives (81%)
• Major employers (80%)
Additional desirable features included:
• GIS mapping for site selection analysis assistance
• Business assistance services
• Quality of life
• Training programs
• Hyperlinks to other organizations
• News about the community
• Social media integration
• Timely, up-to-the-minute data
• Ease of use
• Customized functionality for efficient research
• Connectivity to other media (social, press)
• Easy identification of services
• Interactivity (such as GIS mapping tools)
• Mobile accessibility
• Decision-making partners (links)
What’s the key takeaway? Always remember that the economic development website acts as the first impression with prospective businesses and groups. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 609.466.9187 ext. 117 to discuss how to maximize this essential digital marketing partner for your region.
(1) With more than 20,000 professional economic developers employed worldwide in this highly specialized industry, the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), headquartered in Washington, D.C., is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping economic developers do their job more effectively and raising the profile of the profession. The IEDC has over 4,500 members across the US and internationally, the IEDC serving the economic development community exclusively.
(2) Economic Development Marketing, 2nd Edition, Anatalio Ubalde & Eric Simundza, 2012.
(3) As cited by site selectors.