A regional economic development council (EDC) was considering a wide variety of options to attract new business to their town. However, as a small entity with limited resources, they needed a way to prioritize activities. The EDC wanted to learn how key stakeholders like real estate groups, site selectors, and developers evaluate regions in order to develop targeted materials that would improve consideration for their city.
Knowing that we were dealing with a very limited geographic scope and stakeholder type, we designed a qualitative research study to interview influencers and isolate trends across their needs and prioritization approaches.
Isolated Key Stakeholders
We spent ample time upfront assessing who we should be speaking to. While the EDC wanted to attract businesses, we needed to identify who was responsible for helping businesses identify and evaluate final locations.
Forced Importance Ranking
The EDC team had a variety of region-specific factors (e.g. zoning, workforce metrics, transportation access) that they hypothesized influenced how businesses do early site assessments. We forced participants to rank these items on an importance scale to isolate factors that really mattered.
Additionally, we assessed where these factors ranked relative to quality of life / livability considerations when it came to initially earmarking a town for consideration.
Resource Needs Identification
We included a series of questions to identify what data, resources, and other materials were critical in the location identification process. The goal was to identify the content needed at-hand at all times, and the format it was needed in.
By analyzing key themes across different stakeholders and influencers, the EDC’s team was able to build and justify their upcoming marketing and outreach plan to drive regional consideration.
Building The Site Selector Journey
The data offered insights into what site selectors prioritize immediately, and what they don’t. This helped the EDC and its board home in on the information they needed to collect and promote across their communication channels to be short listed for consideration.
Site Database Creation
A key finding was that stakeholders of all types prefer digital means when developing initial site lists. This encouraged the EDC to begin building a listing of commercial land or properties available for sale or lease to simplify the location identification process.
Workforce Data Collection
Upon learning how important hyper-regional skill set data was to end businesses, the EDC was able to prioritize future efforts towards workforce data collection that they had previously de-prioritized.
Did You Know...
In resource-constrained environments, no team can do everything they want. Market research is an excellent way to understand what marketing or information would most impact user or customer consideration. It’s an ideal way to orient those limited resources toward activities that really move the needle.