Now that you’ve perfected your online presence (series one), your virtual tours (series two)… you’re ready to make the perfect pitch. As we discussed in the series one, defining your competitive advantages expresses to the customer what sets you apart from the competition. It could be your workforce, location or amenities (man-made or natural). Sounds easy enough – however this is where communities can really struggle with the asset + message.

Luckily, we’re here to give you some exercises to help.

EXERCISE 01: Really ask yourself “what makes my community‘s (insert asset, i.e. workforce) different from (insert location options below)?” 

  1. US 
  2. Southern US (if that’s where you live)
  3. State 
  4. Region or neighboring counties

When we ask community stakeholders “what is your elevator pitch?” – typical answers to the question are: “well… we have great people – they are hard-working, we have cheap land, we are less than an hour to major markets, the quality of life here is good – oh, and low cost of living”.

How many communities are giving a similar pitch? The answer is probably a lot higher than you think. Although the answers might be accurate, taking those answers to another level help you develop your unique factors. 
It all begins asking yourself “what, why and for whom” as the purpose of this pitch. If you are still at a loss after the exercise above, we recommend pulling your economic, community and workforce profile data and use it as a base to determine strengths and weaknesses from a data perspective.

EXERCISE 02: Determining strengths and weaknesses from a data perspective
Columns: Start your data comparison with these four:

  1. County 
  2. Region – metro or micro (OR) 45-minute drive-time if you have access to a drive-time tool
  3. State 
  4. US

Rows: Look across multiple categories:

  1. Demographics and growth patterns
  2. Labor foce participation rates
  3. Educational attainment
  4. Employment: Overall and industry specific
  5. Wages: Average and industry specific
  6. Livability: Cost of Living, poverty, government assistance

WE ARE GOING TO MAKE IT EASY FOR YOU with these free resources to help you build out your competitive portfolio using the data point we suggested.

Wow, could this day get any better??

  • StatsAmericaDataUSA and U.S. Census Quickfacts are free platforms that allow the user to collect, compare and analyze data. 
  • Big Radius Tool on StatsAmerica won’t give you that 45-minute drive-time, but it will give you the option to create a radius to view demographics, industries and workers.
  • Once you determine the counties using the bifg radius tool, Custom Region Builder on StatsAmerica opens up a whole new variety of data sets – from 2000 to the most current data available 

VFPT (that’s VisionFirst Pro Tip for those of you who forgot) – your audience will often relate and retain percentages over actual numbers. 

It is important to understand how a company or consultant will view your region before you know you’re being considered for a competitive project. 

Do jurisdiction lines matter? Sure they do. For example, a company locating in the city limits, rather than the county, would have an addition tax on their books. Should you use those same lines when you talk about your labor and area amenities. Absolutely not. Sell those regional assets!! 

Why is that 45-minute drive-time is often the best approach for rural America? 
This is easily justified if your industry wages are 15-20 percent higher than the county/regional wage – you’ll bring in a larger labor shed.

 We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – we typically have all the initial data on your community before a site visit occurs. We know the data doesn’t tell the whole story, that is why we rely on you ro provide the context and narrative. What do those numbers truly say about the healthcare of the community and its business climate? 
Now that you’ve gathered all the information, you’re ready to pitch. Often times, speakers get so wrapped up in delivering their presentation, they forget the needs of the audience. Providing content up front will allow your audience a clear expectation of what to expect and help the presenter understand what data is most critical during this presentation.  Organizations can always benefit from the Ask, Answer (Repeat) approach. This ensures you are always delivering relevant information. 

In the very beginning, always ask the project manager leading the project, “What is driving this project?” to help develop your talking points and define your competitive advantage. That same question will have different answers depending on what stage you in the competitive process. 
Would you gather the same information for a data center project that you would a distribution center? Some yes, some no. What about if you had engineers coming in one week and then the HR team coming in the next month? Two different audiences, two different pitches – with some consistency of information throughout.
Poor slides and data can spoil a presentation. Never has it been easier for organizations to project an image to prospects and clients that best illustrates its assets, resources and vision for growth. Through the creative use of technology, an understanding of data and a clear articulation of the region’s business benefits, you are ready to position and communicate your value proposition to each key audience.

Greg Word