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Lead with Your Weakest Data Point

Kate McEnroe Owner of Kate McEnroe Consulting

I just returned from the latest Consultant Connect conference in Greenville, South Carolina. Forty-plus economic developers from around the country gathered to focus on their own professional development and learn from a faculty of top site consultants.

One of the more interesting moments came from Kate McEnroe, who is a site selection veteran of the past 25+ years. She told the audience “if you’ve only got five minutes with me, lead with your weakest data point.”

Huh? That runs counter to the most basic of marketing precepts.

She went on to explain that the vast majority of economic development groups tend to share “indiscriminate superlatives.”  Our community is “dynamic,” “world-class,” “highly competitive” or “unique.”  And as a result they completely fail to connect with her and make any sort of impression.

In contrast, the smartest communities tell her about a perceived weakness – something that commonly available data is misrepresenting. It might be how the current unemployment rate is misleading due to a daily outmigration of a large segment of the population. Or it might be that the educational attainment level is being dragged down by a large number of retirees in the community. “That sort of information sticks in my head.”

In military terms, this might be called a pre-emptive strike. Take away a future issue by attacking the problem now. Special thanks to Kate for sharing some creative thinking with the group.

Written By

Andy Levine

Andy Levine is Chairman of DCI. Since joining DCI in 1991, he has worked with a broad range of places from “A” (Alabama, Asheville, Australia) to “W” (Wales, Wichita Falls, Wyoming).

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