Inward Investment Lead Generation - Great Website Content is Key

Thursday 13 September 2012
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Is your content cutting it?

But how do you ‘do’ Great Content?
In a recent post, I made the case that traditional marketing methods don't work for inward investment lead generation.
Instead, I argued, Inward Investment Marketing professionals should focus on ‘getting found’ online by prospective investors precisely when they, or their consultants, are researching their location requirements.

The case for adopting this approach is simple, and based on a recent but fundamental shift in the way companies make procurement decisions. Recent surveys show that 89% of people now use the internet when they make purchasing decisions. At the corporate level, a 2011 DAC Group survey found that 71% of business purchasing decisions originated with a Search Engine query. That figure was up from 51% in 2009, and no doubt the figure for 2012 will be higher still. The world is a fast-changing place. So, when lead generation is as tough as it is in inward investment promotion, the case for doing your very best to ‘get found’ is a strong one. 
But what, precisely, should you do? Here are a few guiding principles:

1. Content is King
In the old days (until around 2011, that is), all sorts of ‘SEO’ trickery proliferated to get websites to the top of Search Engine rankings. But the major Search Engines, notably Google in 2011, clamped down on it and now, in 2012, the key to getting found is quite simply to create Great Content. But that just begs another question: precisely what, when it comes to attracting invest investment leads, is Great Content?

2. Great Content is the stuff Inward Investment Leads are Searching for.
Try to put yourself in the shoes of prospective inward investors to your region (or their consultants).  They’re at the Research stage in their procurement process. They’re building a business case for a major corporate investment and their priorities are (a) to maximise the company's Return on Investment (ROI) and (b) to minimise Risk. The project’s going to need land, buildings, energy, people, professional services and so on. That should provide an insight into the kind of information they’ll be searching for – relevant (i.e. addressing their specific needs), high-quality (e.g. data from respected, referenced sources) and engaging (i.e. it grabs their attention). If you’re creating content about your Partnership Structure, say, or politicians cutting ribbons,  or just offering 'headline' facts presented with a bit of marketing spin, chances are you won’t get found, or engaged by prospective investors.

3. Keep Creating Great Content
The other thing that both Search Engines and Inward Investment Leads love is content that’s continually getting updated. If it’s the right kind of content, it’ll boost your Search Engine ranking and encourage prospective inward investors to make return visits. Creating Great Content on an on-going basis obviously requires a Plan – what to talk about, and when. It also requires time and effort.
Now there’s a good point – how on earth are we going to create all that Great Content?

5. Create Great Content Together
There’s a lot of talk about Partnerships these days, and one thing that’s really good about Partnerships is that they’re made up of Partner organisations, each with their own areas of specialised knowledge, and individual experts. Creating Great Content consistently is a huge challenge for one person. But when the job’s shared between several highly knowledgeable people representing different types of organisations, it suddenly becomes much smaller, and the results much better. In summary, for Cities, Regions, or Partnerships, there are no excuses for failing to establish a production line of Great Content that has the potential to attract real inward investment leads.

6. Don’t Leave Content Creation to your Marketing Team
Of course, the team approach is not how it usually works. Creating and publishing content involves computers, and Social Media, and all sorts of buttons on the website that most of us don’t understand. And besides, it’s Marketing, isn’t it? So the job gets left to an internet savvy Marketing Executive, or the company’s Social Media ‘Guru’. Now I have no intention of underestimating the capabilities of these younger members of staff – their skills can be vital in planning campaigns and disseminating Great Content. It’s just that they can't possibly do the job on their own, and the kind of content they create is unlikely to be the stuff inward investment leads are looking for. And remember, Content is King. 
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