The Inward Investment Marketing Funnel - Strategies for More Effective Investor Targeting...

Thursday 18 February 2016
Today, investment promotion agencies have an unprecedented range of tools and techniques at their disposal to communicate their location advantages to expanding businesses. Online, content formats ranging from video to interactive data visualisations can help them to address the needs of prospective inward investors.

But, as always, a carefully considered strategy is essential; the starting point must be a clear understanding of which formats to use, and which messages to project, where and when.

The Inward Investment Marketing Funnel

This is where the well-known model of the 'marketing funnel' can help - or our variation of it - the Inward Investment Marketing Funnel. The funnel represents the various stages of the inward investment marketing and sales process, and it can help us to select our content formats, and target our messages more effectively, to businesses at the various stages in their location research and selection exercises.

It's a funnel (wider at the top than at the bottom) because were trying to attract as many investment prospects as possible, not all of which will become 'landed' inward investments.

1. Awareness Level Content (Investor 'Attraction')

Marketing activities at the 'top of the funnel' are all about creating awareness of our location amongst businesses that we don't yet know, and attracting them to us.

At this level, messages must address the 'location choice drivers' of expanding companies but will inevitably be generic (because we don't yet know the specific companies we're talking to). Suitable content formats at this level can include highly optimised website pages (SEO), overview 'blog' articles with attention-grabbing headlines (more SEO), video blogs and slide shows. (Projecting content via social media networks is, of course, essential!).

Download Clarity's E-Book, The Inward Investment Marketing System: advanced marketing strategies for inward investment attraction.

2. Consideration Level Content (Investor 'Engagement')

Creating awareness of your location amongst expanding businesses and intermediaries is all well and good, but businesses can't make location decisions based on general, 'awareness level' content.

At the 'consideration' level, content must be more in depth and data-focused (and always reliable), providing companies with the high-quality material they need to develop location business cases (and to develop trust in you as a potential 'business partner'). Suitable content formats at this level can include interactive data visualisations, data sheets, location cost comparisons and interactive location maps.

With an effective 'inbound marketing' website, high-value 'consideration' content can be offered in return for contact details, as downloads. And when we know who we're dealing with, it becomes possible to target content based on their specific requirements (e.g. via email marketing).

3. Decision Level Content (Investor 'Conversion')

Towards the bottom of the Inward Investment Marketing Funnel we arrive at the point of direct 'sales' contact (which is far easier when business relationships have been 'nurtured' through high-value content further up the funnel).

At this level we're in the realms of tailored proposals and location/site solutions in response to known specific business needs. And, of course, dedicated account managment from the Inward Investment Manager, addressing key issues including planning, funding and recruitment.

Download Clarity's E-Book, The Inward Investment Marketing System: advanced marketing strategies for inward investment attraction.

4. Ongoing Support (Creating 'Advocates')

Modern iterations of the Marketing Funnel recognise that the 'sales' job isn't over when the business is won (or, in our case, the investment is 'landed'). With consumer goods (say, Apple phones), the objective at this stage is to create brand loyalty, advocacy ('my iPhone 6s is fantastic!') and repeat business. With inward investors, it's all about understanding and addressing their ongoing concerns (handling of issues like planning can make or break relationships between businesses and local authorities), creating advocates within local management teams ('we've had a great experience - the company should expand here!') and encouraging 'reinvestment'.

An important point to note is that, with modern internet marketing, we don't control the customer's journey though the marketing funnel - they do. An effective content marketing strategy will result in lots of 'awareness' and 'consideration' level content about your location being available to investing businesses online. But they are in control of where they enter your Inward Investment Marketing Funnel, and their journey through it.

The challenge for the inward investment marketer is to provide excellent content that targets businesses at specific stages in the expansion process, and make them want to engage with you - because you've successfully addressed their location selection needs.

Download Clarity's E-Book, The Inward Investment Marketing System: advanced marketing strategies for inward investment attraction.

Nick Smillie
MD, Clarity Business Strategies Ltd.
February 2016

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