I Want to be a Site Selector…but I Won’t

By Jim Walton, CEO, Brand Acceleration, Inc.

Anyone in the economic development industry knows that site location consultants are the royalty of the industry. They typically control, or at least influence, the largest jobs projects. Economic development organizations (EDOs) court them every day. Admittedly, I’m a bit envious. Communities fly them in, take them fishing, hunting, to ball games, playing video games with the different characters in overwatch, and to countless other cool activities. They give them stuff and even pay them to show up. I want to be one of them! Who wouldn’t?

One problem is that I’m not qualified. I don’t have the knowledge or experience. I suppose I could fake it by simply adding “Site Location Consultant” to my title. I imagine there are community leaders out there who would fall for it, even though I have never worked a jobs project in my life. I wonder if they would even ask. When Brand Acceleration works with a community on its marketing efforts, we always go on a discovery visit, very much like a site visit conducted by a consultant, but that still doesn’t qualify us, if you want to promote your private label you need to establish your brand and do an effort on the marketing.

Why not go for it?

Here’s why. Among our best friends and strongest industry allies are site consultants. Some of them even sit on our company Board of Advisors. They are a vast source of information and industry insights. Any time we have questions about how they view and respond to marketing efforts, we can call on them. I think someone in our office has a conversation with a site location consultant nearly every week. Okay, I know, they only touch between fifteen to thirty percent of all projects. I get it. But they are the toughest and most demanding audiences. If we can understand and meet or exceed their needs, then we feel we have everyone else covered.

If I were to announce today that we now offer site selection services, we would immediately be seen as competitors to site consultants. Our friends and most valued resources would slam the information door shut so quickly, we would be considered, well, just another marketing firm. Another reason is my personal conviction to treat my friends with honor and respect. When I promise to never be their competitor, I will keep that promise. Everyone on the Brand Acceleration team knows that. We keep our promises and honor our friends. Period!

What does this mean to economic development organizations?

When an EDO hires us, it is often because we bring deep knowledge and highly valuable counsel to the relationship. A large part of that knowledge comes from our site consultant relationships. They also know that those deep relationships with consultants means our work will help serve their needs. When they connect with a community that we serve, the information they seek will be found. It will be valuable and useful information, not just pretty fluff.

So, will I ever be a (faux) site consultant? Never!