Top 7 Ways to Market to Site Selection ConsultantsMay 11, 2022
Site selection consultants are highly influential players in corporate expansion and location decisions – and there are more ways than ever to reach them in our hybrid world.
Retained by companies to identify the best markets to support corporate growth plans, site selection consultants are involved in an estimated 40% of site selection decisions – making them an important audience for economic development marketing efforts.
Here are seven high-touch ways to market to and build relationships with site selection consultants.
1. Network and Learn Best Practices at Industry Events
Site consultants work with hundreds of companies over the course of their careers, making it critical that they understand your community’s economic advantages and know who to contact when they think your community might be a good fit for a given client. Site selection industry associations such as the Site Selectors Guild and Consultant Connect host in-person events across the country to help economic developers build those all-important relationships with some of the most active consultants in the field. These events often incorporate panels and breakout sessions to also share best practices and trends with economic developers.
2. Bring Consultants to Your Community
The best way to showcase your community is an on-the-ground visit. Invite a group of consultants – keep it small and intimate – for a FAM tour to see your community’s assets, get a feel for the local culture and vibrancy, and meet with the public, private, academic and/or utility partners that are actively contributing to the area’s economic development efforts. Where possible, incorporate authentic and memorable experiences that consultants will be excited to share with their colleagues. To lighten the lift, consider the Site Selectors Guild’s Advisory Forum service for their help securing high-quality consultants for a FAM tour and arranging travel.
Advance planning is encouraged when bringing consultants to your community. Invite consultants at least 3-4 months in advance and include the tour’s agenda and participating partners in the invitation. Due to consultants’ busy schedules, providing a stipend is standard practice in addition to covering travel, lodging and dining. Separately, meet with participating partners ahead of time to make sure they are aligned with key messages and prepared for likely questions.
3. Visit Consultants on Their Home Turf
Now more than ever, site selection consultants have full calendars that can limit travel availability. Fit their busy schedules by arranging a luncheon, dinner or series of one-on-one meetings with a group of consultants in highly concentrated markets such as Atlanta/Greenville, Chicago, Dallas or New York.
Like a FAM tour invitation, provide details such as the lunch/dinner location and participating partners upfront and create an atmosphere that is authentic to your community. We encourage reaching out to consultants 4-8 weeks advance to get on their calendars.
4. Stay Face-to-Face, Virtually
Today’s hybrid environment has normalized virtual meetings – a big win for building and maintaining site consultant relationships in a cost-effective manner.
Apply the recommendation above to Zoom or Microsoft Teams by arranging a meeting with 4-6 site selection consultants, your team and your partners to solicit feedback on your community and build relationships. This can also be accomplished through one-on-one virtual meetings. Stipends are typically provided to participating consultants, though at a lower amount than FAM tours.
The Site Selectors Guild’s Virtual Table Talk is another option for economic developers to meet virtually with site consultants – and alleviates the need to secure consultants independently.
5. Share Timely E-Newsletters
Keep in front of site selection consultants through e-newsletters with timely company expansions and locations, impressive and data-driven rankings, updates on passed legislation and workforce initiatives, available sites and more. Consultants receive dozens of e-newsletters each day, so make sure your content is relevant, timely and to the point.
6. Go Old School with Postcards
Some marketing trends come and go while others stay the course. Direct mail is among the latter group, with hard copy postcards still getting consultants’ attention. Consider focusing postcard content on company expansions and relocations and taking a highly visual approach with limited, scannable copy.
7. Pick Up the Phone
While cold calling a site selection consultant may not be the best approach to starting a relationship, don’t be afraid to call an established contact to maintain the relationship or ask clarifying questions about a request for proposal. Consultants like to hear from economic developers, and a phone call is a personal touch that goes a long way.