Business Decision Makers Want Reliable Location Facts & Data: Inward Investment Marketers Should Provide Them.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014
Business decision makers are searching for robust location facts and data

Data and Analytics are Driving Business Location Decisions

More than ever before, data and business intelligence are driving strategic corporate decision making, as businesses seek to minimise costs and risks and maximise performance and profits. Today, major businesses are utilising sophisticated 'analytics' - information resulting from the systematic analysis of data - to develop their strategies, and the potential to apply analytics in the area of site and location selection  is increasingly being recognised. According to a recent report by Jones Lang Lasalle, 'there is a significant opportunity to apply analytics in portfolio and location strategy.' (Beyond Data: the opportunity for analytics in CRE, JLL, Sept 2014).

Even businesses without access to sophisticated analytics tools want reliable property and location data and intelligence, addressing key site selection criteria such as building running costs, workforce demographics and transport connectivity. Their analyses may be less in-depth, but the same needs and principles apply.

The key to all this is, of couse, reliable information.

Without access to robust data, the most sophisticated analytics tools are useless. And herein lies a major opportunity for inward investment and commercial property marketers. If, through their marketing campaigns, they can provide the high-quality data and factual information that expanding and relocating businesses are searching for, they can become trusted sources of valuable knowledge, and attract those businesses to their sites and regions.

It's all because of the internet...

Another key development supports the case for projecting robust, in-depth, factual information and data through inward investment and commercial property marketing campaigns: the rise of the internet. According to recent data, 97% of corporate site and location selectors now start with online research (source: GIS Planning). These researchers want facts, not sales patter, and they'll vote with their clicks if marketers don't provide them.

This trend has led to the growth of research-based 'content marketing' that provides online researchers with factual solutions - site and location solutions in our case - not the 'spun' sales messages that predominated in the pre-internet era. (And it's no coincidence that some of the major international property consultants excel at content marketing themselves, promoting their own expertise by informing - utilising their own research data - rather than selling).

But where can inward investment and commercial property marketers get all this robust data from?

In our experience, investment promotion agencies, developers and property agents shouldn't be short of high-quality data. Investment agencies commission detailed reports about their location benefits, usually complete with extensive economic and demographic data from verified sources.The major property consultants have excellent research teams dedicated to producing it.  It's just that the data isn't utilised in marketing campaigns, or, if it is, it's reduced to spun 'killer facts' that business location decision makers can't rely on.

All of which raises some important questions regarding inward investment and commercial property marketing, including:

A. Why does so much inward investment and commercial property marketing material still focus on design, image and 'brand', when site selectors are actually searching for reliable facts and data?

B. Why does so much inward investment and commercial property marketing material present carefully selected (and spun?) headline facts only, when site selectors are searching for in-depth, source-referenced information?

C. Why does so much inward investment and commercial property marketing material still employ 'sales patter', when site selectors don't want it, or trust it?

D. Why does so much inward investment and commercial property marketing budget still go on costly, bulky printed materials, when businesses and location consultants are nearly all conducting their research online (and online information can easily and continually be kept up to date)?

The conclusions are clear...

There's a clear mismatch between the information business location decision makers want, and what most inward investment and commercial property marketing material continues to give them. And many marketers are still tied to the methods of the 1990s, not the 2010s.

There's a need for a paradigm shift in inward investment and commercial property marketing, with a new emphasis on research-based site and location solutions with more power to influence business location decisions.

Nick Smillie
MD, Clarity Business Strategies Ltd.

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