The biggest mistake your economic development website (and subsequent communications) can make…is to sound like everyone else working in economic development.
Site selectors and investors (and retained businesses) don’t have time to guess at who you are nor what support you offer. You have to spell it out for them. American economic development strategist Janet Ady writes that every community should “know what type of businesses would place the greatest value on your particular mix of assets.”
Don’t forget the #1 job of your economic development website. It’s to reassure site selectors and potential investors that they are in the right place. If you’re generically good for everyone – you’re good to no one.
Economic Developers who take the time to go through a comprehensive strategic planning process will uncover one major thing – and you won’t know how to fix your website without it. That’s your unique selling proposition in comparison to other companies. Yes, you have to get approval and go through an RFP process typically (which is a pain) to get a strategic plan. But if you’re simply a small municipality, or you just can’t get consensus, economic developers can create a Where, Now, How one page business plan so they can start the process of knowing where they fit into the marketplace. (Perhaps that process and uncovering what you don’t know might help you get council buy-in to do a more thorough strategic plan for the next fiscal year). With all the 25+ Eastern Ontario Municipal websites Tangible Words has been asked to comment on through our Website Content Audit report and other copywriting services if we’re feeling sick of the “great place to live and work” – don’t you think Site Selectors are too? And you’re not just trying to attract Site Selectors to your economic region. You want to be in direct line of sight with the companies themselves. In particular, neighbours in the next municipality or regional companies who you’d love to see expand (even relocate) into your area, providing jobs and buying services from your local supply chain.
We all search and use the internet in a similar way. If you don’t provide sufficient information on your website, people draw the wrong conclusions about you. You need to give enough information to make them feel like they’re in the right place when they come to your website. They need to recognize themselves in your examples. A critical piece of that strategic planning process is to know who does well in your community. You have to be able to prove that you’re great at helping these companies.
A website audit shows you where you’re doing well and how you can improve your content and design to better attract investors and businesses. With Tangible Words, your economic development website will be assessed against 9-12 criteria. It has two parts. The first part is a customised report you can share with your team to discuss the good, the bad and the unknown about your website. The second part of the audit is a 30-minute consultation with our Principal Copywriter so you can talk in-depth, and ask any questions about your site, one-on-one.