In economic development (ED) marketing, a website serves as the welcome mat for your city, region, or state. An ED website represents the gateway into your community, providing a glimpse of what you have to offer. Any community and organization serious about promoting economic development must have a website strictly focused on recruiting companies and talent or supporting business start-ups, entrepreneurism, business growth, expansion, and retention.
However, public and private organizations often use general-purpose websites to promote economic development. Chambers of commerce and municipalities frequently host economic development webpage(s) on their chamber or municipal sites. Crammed between information about chamber benefits and events or paying utility bills, vital economic development information can get lost. Research shows that the average visitor to a website stays only 10-20 seconds before bouncing off. If economic development information is not easily found or accessible, your community may miss out on important opportunities.
A website strictly focused on economic development is a must in economic development marketing. The ED website speaks to targeted audiences: prospective and existing companies; talent looking to relocate; and site selectors— consultants who influence decisions about which communities a company relocates to or expands in. ED marketing research shows that site selectors, corporate decision-makers, or talent considering a move will often visit economic development websites to learn more about a community’s assets, opportunities, and quality of life.
Different Audiences Need Different Websites
An economic development website provides important information during the site selection process. Communities are often eliminated from consideration during this systematic and competitive search process because the decision-maker doesn’t have accurate information about the community. So, a comprehensive economic development website with up-to-date relevant information can make the difference between staying in the site selection race or being eliminated. An ED website is even more important if a company is conducting its own site selection search since corporate decision-makers will likely not have access to databases for information.
Your ED website must be comprehensive, searchable, and compelling, offering a great user experience. The website should at minimum offer basic economic development information, including population demographics, leading employers, cost of doing business, cost of living, and industrial and commercial properties. A community should also have an understanding of its competitive advantages and industry target clusters in order to understand its value proposition and target audiences. This ensures that the ED website provides the right marketing messaging and relevant information.
To help communities and organizations understand their value propositions, Upsize Marketing Strategies (UMS), a women-owned, minority-owned marketing firm, specializes in economic development marketing strategies. UMS develops ED websites, business attraction, retention and expansion strategies, and strategic and marketing plans. President Christine Rambo, MBA is a Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) with nearly 30 years of experience in economic development, marketing, communications, place branding, and community and workforce development
UMS can help your community or organization better understand and develop the right marketing strategies that will attract the right audiences to your website. Understanding your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, along with comparative positioning relative to rival communities, underpins effective business development marketing strategies. These strategies are then deployed on your ED website. Since your website represents your community’s front door, make sure you put out the welcome mat.