Inward Investment Marketing: What Makes a Great Location Value Proposition (and What Doesn't)?

Tuesday 28 January 2014
There's a popular approach to 'Place Marketing' which involves sending out a continual stream of 'good news stories', communicating everything that's great about the location in question. Sometimes the story can be about a new business investment, but it's just as likely to cover the local volleyball team's latest success, a business award winner or a great review for a show at the local theatre.

The approach reaches its apotheosis on Place Marketing Portals (websites) and e-newsletters that look more like covers of 'heat' magazine than exercises in precision-targeted communications.

But Our Location's Great! Why Shouldn't We Shout About It?

It's a fair question. After all, this kind of megaphone marketing raises your location's profile and promotes positive perceptions, doesn't it? Well, it may do, but whether it has any influence on the location decisions of investing businesses is an entirely different matter. I would go further, to say that it doesn't respond effectively to the location choice drivers of any of the place marketer's target audiences - expanding businesses, property developers, tourists, conference organisers and so on. Expanding businesses don't care about your production of 'Joseph', and weekend-breakers don't want to hear about your business investment grants.

Furthermore, most of these 'good news stories' don't communicate effectively what's unique or distinctive about your location. Everywhere has something to shout about, and lots of other locations are shouting too. It all adds up to a confusing cacophony and, let's face it, no-one really likes being shouted at.

The Alternative - Your Unique 'Location Value Proposition'.

In contrast to the megaphone marketing approach described above, effective Inward Investment Marketing needs to target the specific factors that influence and drive business location decisions. Your Investment Promotion Agency or Partnership therefore needs to understand and communicate:
  • The specific needs of investors in your target industry sectors
  • The specific benefits of you location, and how they align with identified investor needs
  • The specific advantages of your location versus competitor locations
This unique alignment of Location Benefits and Advantages with Investor Needs is your Location Value Proposition. It's what can make your location stand out in a highly competitive global 'market' for inward investment, rather than just adding to the noise.

Why 'Good Value' is a 'Really Good News Story'

When you start to think in terms of Location Value Propositions, you start to think about 'good news stories' in an entirely different light. Here's why:
Maximising Return on Investment (ROI) is at the heart of business site and location evaluations. Depending on industry sector and business function, maximising ROI may be facilitiated by the availability of, say, a highly skilled scientific workforce (e.g. in high-tech sectors), or by the availability of low-cost, unskilled labour (e.g. in the distribution sector). The former is associated with the wealthiest technology hubs, the latter with higher-than-average levels of unemployment. And yet, either of these features can be part of a winning Location Value Proposition - it all depends on what's driving the investors you're targeting.

In summary, when it comes to effective Inward Investment Marketing, a good news story that gets your location noticed and promotes positive perceptions is one that addresses the needs of investing businesses in a unique way - whatever those needs might be, and whether or not traditional 'place marketers' would consider it to be a 'good news story' at all.

Contact Clarity today to talk about developing your winning Location Value Proposition.

Nick Smillie

Inward Investment Marketing Blog