Developing Outstanding Inward Investment Value Propositions: 5 Key Principles for Success...

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Perhaps the most basic challenge facing Investment Promotion Agencies is this: how to make their business location stand out from all the other locations that investing businesses could choose instead.

That's why effective location differentiation is essential, and why 'Value Proposition Development' should be the starting point for every Investment Promotion Agency's marketing and sales activities (and all their other activities for that matter!).

But what exactly is an Inward Investment Value Proposition?

Your location's Inward Investment Value Proposition can be described as it's unique promise of value to expanding businesses. In practical terms, it's a statement summarising why businesses should select your location rather than the competition, by demonstrating that it addresses their needs more effectively, and therefore delivers more value than competitor locations can.

An effective Inward Investment Value Proposition Should Identify:

  • Your target market segment of expanding businesses
  • What their location selection problems are
  • The unique reasons why your location solves their problems
  • Why your location solutions are better than your competitors'

So, now we've clarified what an Inward Investment Value Proposition is, here are 5 guiding principles to consider when it comes to making yours outstanding:

1. Specialise. Target. Differentiate.

The fact is that different types of businesses have widely differing types of 'location selection problems'. Some may need to minimise costs and get physical goods to market as quickly as possible; others may need access to the highly skilled (albeit expensive) people you'll find in urban knowledge clusters. And it's highly unlikely that your location will be able to offer unique benefits to all kinds of businesses.

The key, therefore, is to match your genuine benefits with the identified needs of a complementary market segment of expanding companies. That's the case for developing highly targeted value propositions focused on specific industry sectors or business functions rather than trying to be all things to all businesses (more about that here).

2. Resist the Temptation to Doctor the Data.

This is all about ensuring that your Inward Investment Value Propositions are credible and trustworthy. Businesses will expect your claims to be supported by evidence, including high-quality, verifiable data. And the more transparent that data is, the more likely it is that businesses will trust it, and you. If it takes statistical gymnastics to make the data work in your favour, there's a high chance that you're chasing the wrong types of businesses...

3. Quantify Value Wherever Possible.

For businesses, value is all about money - saving it, making more of it, and minimising the risk of losing it. Therefore, wherever possible, your Inward Investment Value Proposition should quantify the financial advantages of selecting your location (again based on verifiable data and trustworthy calcualtions).

4. Choose Your Competitors Carefully.

This is another point about credibility and trustworthiness. It's not unusual to see Investment Promotion Agencies presenting comparisons versus locations that aren't really competitors at all, but which have been selected to make their location look 'better'.

Expanding businesses, which will understand the sectors they operate in, are unlikely to be convinced by this. And they're unlikely to see the Investment Promotion Agency in question as a credible partner, because the evidence will suggest that they don't really understand the sectors they're targeting. So, if you compare your location with others, make sure they're credible competitor locations.

5. Don't Leave Your Inward Investment Value Proposition on the Shelf.

Another thing that's often found in the world of inward investment promotion: agencies commission expensive consultancy reports to identify their unique location benefits, supported by detailed evidence and data. But then the report stays on the shelf, or is only occasionally pulled out to inform 'sales' proposals to individual businesses with which the agency already has direct contact (at the bottom of the marketing funnel).

The fact is that your Inward Investment Value Propositions, and the data that supports them, should inform all of your marketing and sales activities, from the top to the bottom of your marketing funnel. If you don't use them to attract businesses at the early stages of location research and evaluation (notably online), you'll have a smaller pool of known investing businesses to submit customised 'sales' proposals to anyway. For this reason, we recommend considering how your Inward Investment Value Proposition will be presented as Marketing Content when you're developing it - not later on.  In other words, value proposition development has to be intrinsically linked to the rest of your inward investment marketing and 'sales' strategy.  

Nick Smillie
Managing Director
Clarity | Inward Investment Marketing Strategies

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