Unique experience born out of proven success by working with regions of all types and sizes
In most coffee shops, you can now use the same size lid for small, medium, and large cups of coffee. That wasn’t true as recently as 1995. That small change in the geometry of the cups means that a coffee shop can serve customers at lower cost, store owners only need to manage the inventory for one type of lid, employees can replenish supplies more quickly and customers get their coffee just that bit faster. That is a great analogy for Economic Development marketing. It’s all about creating the right environment for the right kind of businesses. It’s not only about promoting the promising potential of living and working in a location, but is also very much about the region’s economic development team and their marketing arm having the vision and insight to be famous for giving businesses the chance to produce a better coffee cup lid. BFT has the tools to build planning into reality.
Staying committed to your objectives, while staying flexible in your approach
The need to maintain a flexible approach is true of every aspect of marketing but never more so than when promoting a location.
There is a fine balance between being committed to a long term set of objectives—keeping all the location’s key players’ eyes on the ultimate goals—while being able to react very swiftly to a real market opportunity. When we work with locations we ensure that data is always in readiness to ‘pull off the shelf’ and place in whatever format a prospect needs (these days that often being digitally). There is no room for intransigence.
Towns, cities, regions—even countries—are, of course, brands in their own right.
As brands they are competing for share of voice in the minds of location agents, company management and, ultimately, company employees. The more that economic development marketers remember and act on this crucial fact, the more their region will stand out in the minds of their target audience. BFT International’s focus on brand development enables locations to realize their potential as a true brand—the location’s keepers of their brand often having not viewed their marketing ideals in this way. BFT’s quick and economical methodology has been proven to be successful.
Our approach is to be totally dovetailed with our client—in effect, to be the location’s marketing department, a facility rarely affordable by smaller locations.
In this way we can jointly react to changing conditions and competitive reaction to marketing promotion. Continually observing competitive reaction means that together we can launch precise counter activity. Perhaps the most important aspect of our ongoing economic development work is to listen—obviously to our immediate client contact, but just as importantly to the individual members of economic development committees. It is vital to hear their personal concerns and ambitions while understanding that everyone’s intentions cannot happen overnight.
No other area of commercial business has as many facets as economic development—by its nature, it can cover just about any area of commerce.
Therefore, it is necessary for us to have a wide breadth of knowledge across many business categories. We continually refer to States’ Economic and Community Development’s statistical offices, State Planning Offices, and at the Federal level, organizations such as the Economic and Statistics Administration and, perhaps, the Department of Labor. Also, as part of our regular business activity, it is our job to have our finger on the pulse of all areas of commerce to maintain a realistic view of how each market sector has a bearing on others.
The long-term task can be daunting, but achievable via an all-inclusive program
The single most important task for a community embarking, perhaps for the first time, on economic development is to create and agree upon an agenda and Strategic Plan.
This should be supported by the key business-leaders in the community and, ideally, by the majority of the population—this latter element being easily attained by keeping the community fully abreast of the Economic Development Committee’s activities. It is hugely beneficial that the location has an obvious and inviting center of ‘business’, where most professional services, restaurants and at least some retail stores are located, and it is often not realized that attracting new businesses is as much a matter of conveniently laid out and attractive parks, as it is a matter of convincing companies that the town or city is committed to a long-term program of making itself attractive to incoming commercial ventures. Thus, the agenda to realize that invariably involves improvements and capital spending, the benefits of which are not always immediately obvious to all taxpayers.
We have found that those who are embarking on economic development often view the task facing their community as almost insurmountable
Whatever the size of the overall objectives, the tasks are NOT unattainable. We always recommend initially taking small steps that can be successfully completed quite quickly and economically. By progressing in this way, it soon becomes evident that the team is moving forward in line with the overall economic development plan, and the added benefit of this course of action is that the team can measure results—vitally important for constituent support and often for ongoing budget allocation.
Few communities have all the resources (financial or human) to achieve all that they desire.
Therefore, effective alliances are key—engaging public and private resources. A Marketing Plan that encompasses both prospective new and expanding businesses and identified allies is more likely to succeed than one that ignores the potential benefits of forming third-party relationships. Again, BFT’s wide experience of all commercial categories will be invaluable.
Our overriding objective is to make the best possible use of a community’s marketing resources. BFT’s over 30 years of experience, nationally and internationally, has demonstrated that a coordinated plan built on consensus will strengthen a location’s competitive position. We’ve found that the only limitation to economic development is the restraint of imagination.