A few weeks ago, as I was enjoying my usual early morning reading time, I came across a very interesting article and related video on the subject of success momentum. The video included an interview with a business owner who spoke about how his string of business wins fuels his company’s success and growth. He said that each time they win a new piece of business, the word spreads and creates buzz that generates even more activity.
Over the years, I’ve seen the same thing happen to communities. First, a new company moves in and hires a bunch of people, then an existing business expands, etc., etc., etc. Before long, industry publications and blogs are alive with chatter, creating a seemingly unstoppable momentum. Take a look at what’s happening with Asheville, North Carolina, Austin, Texas, Denver, Colorado, and several other locations. A firestorm of publicity causes prospects to take a look just to see what’s going on. It reminds me of a strategy I used several years ago as an exhibitor at major trade shows. Whenever traffic near our booth would slow down, I would instruct our booth workers to stand in the aisle and look in. Passersby would see the “crowd” and stop by just to see what was so interesting.
So, just how can a community get so much attention? Well, you first have to create news by doing the very hard work of attracting jobs and investment. No easy task, but if you do nothing more than attend local breakfast meetings and wait for your state economic development agency to throw you a bone, little or nothing is going to happen. I recently saw data showing a direct correlation between investment, marketing, sales effort and project activity. Duh! Communities that actively invest in marketing are much more likely to be considered for projects than those that do little or nothing. It’s a brutally competitive world out there, and if you’re not investing time and money in the marketing and sales process, your wins are naturally going to be limited.
It’s crucial to build awareness and visibility among the site selector, real estate, and c-suite community. My personal observation is that our clients who participate in major conferences and industry events have a serious advantage over those who do not. I understand that the cost can be significant, but it’s well worth the investment. Community leaders need to understand this and financially support their economic developers.
A few years ago, I met an economic developer who complained that her board would not give her the necessary funds to do a respectable job of marketing. She needed a new website and wanted to attend a couple of industry conferences each year in order to tell her community’s story. Unfortunately, her board refused the needed funding; saying that if she would just land one project, there might be enough money to grant her request. She did it. Within a few months, she managed an expansion project that added eighty-five new jobs to her small community. She was fired up! Excited and wanting to do even more, she approached her board chair and reminded him of the earlier promise. His response? “Your recent win shows me that you can accomplish great things without additional funding. Just keep doing what you’re doing.” It came as no surprise to me when she called a few weeks later to tell me that she had accepted a position with the neighboring county. Her funding is much greater and she’s generating tons of activity and buzz for her new community. Her previous employer is still looking for her replacement, but the word is out and no one wants to work there. I guess they have buzz, too.
Promote your wins
When you do win a project, even a very small one, shout it to the world. In addition to contacting your local media, be sure to distribute a professionally-written news release, with photos, to industry media, blogs, social media discussion boards, and any other local, regional, state, or national forum you can think of. Do you think the above-mentioned places just coincidentally get mentioned? No, they actively tell their stories through paid media, public relations, social media marketing, and other venues that get in front of target audiences. You can do it, too. Get started now and enjoy the advantage of momentum.
I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to share your thoughts and personal experiences below.