Promising Economic Development Tech Trends for 2022

By Guillermo Mazier

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To bring in the new year our team has identified 5 promising tech trends to take advantage of in 2022

As business leaders and economic development organizations around the globe re-imagine their strategic objectives in light of emerging risks, in our new post-pandemic reality it is important to consider the role that technology will play in the evolution of our Cities, States, and Countries. It is something that I often wonder about. And yet I always come back to the industry of community and economic development leaders and investment promotion professionals who are tasked with the application of the strategic initiatives that will help advance our economies.

Whether your specialty is foreign direct investment and marketing, or business development and research, modern software and processes are changing the economic development landscape but let’s face it they always have. We now have more ways to get prospect data and leverage that data to provide personalized business development and marketing approaches that meet a specific prospect need and are tailored to our prospect’s stage in the investment process. What does this mean for the modern economic development and investment promotion and trade professional? It means that you can create more competitive advantages. In research, prospecting, outreach, metrics, and more.

Today, an economic development professional can reach more leads, meet more influencers, manage more campaigns in more ways, with more actionable insights than ever before. And yet some of our organizations still track leads in a spreadsheet, still individually respond to irrelevant spam email, still only have hard copy renderings of industrial properties, and still only tout their current investment wins in an annual report.

Putting time aside for a moment, the next objection we hear to enhancing an organization’s technology approach is; "We just don’t have the budget.” This is different from saying; “We don’t have the budget to implement a program to a best-in-class standard.” Nowadays there are very few economic development resources that cannot be made better with the free or low-cost tools available.

Consider this marketing example:

 

Economic development organizations plan to leverage LinkedIn for business recruitment and relationship building purposes.

One organization decided to purchase LinkedIn’s Sales navigator tool for $79.99 per month to identify more leads and send more InMail messages per month to prospective leads. 

The other organization chooses to leverage the Free version of LinkedIn to build their network, connections and uncover new business opportunities. 

Which organization will be better off than they were before? The organization that uses the tool free or paid. 

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Don’t get me wrong, I like old-school stuff, the movie with Will Ferrell, vintage clothes, and can even appreciate the time before cell phones when there was more time and space to think without the constant notification battle that many of us seem to find ourselves in. What I cannot get on board with is complacency. Doing things the same way at the expense of better results and a larger impact are not the behaviors that we will need to navigate the economic development uncertainties of the future. What does this look like?

  • Keeping a 100-year-old CRM because you have always used it and your organization could not possibly go through that process again

  • Refusing to leverage LinkedIn for prospecting 

  • Using the We Are Open for Business Tagline in every piece of marketing collateral you have

  • Not ever turning your camera on during zoom prospect calls 

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Although the growth in technology and data products has helped economic developers build new skills and efficiencies, they have also made it significantly easier to be drowned out in a sea of sameness.

So, to bring in the new year our team has identified 5 promising tech trends which we believe Economic Developers can take advantage of in 2022.

1. The Virtual Pitch

Quick question: How much have your zoom skills improved since the beginning of the pandemic? Data shows that 94% of surveyed employers report that company productivity has been the same (67%) or higher (27%) since employees started working from home during the pandemic. Virtual tools and technology have helped create new, innovative approaches in economic development marketing and communication strategies. Virtual technology is allowing for increased one-on-one engagement with corporate decision makers and influencers such as site selection consultants. This trend is here to stay and continue to grow.

How are you managing virtual marketing and engagement with potential investors, site selection consultants, and your organization’s team training? 

This is how our company has gone about supporting this issue. We leverage these virtual tools in all of our work with clients and our teams. This virtual shift has resulted in exponentially increasing engagement with economic developers, site selection consultants and other industry influencers. These tools allow for access to virtual training, virtual marketing, increasing the number of meetings with industry executives, and economic development organizations, and unlimited tours of buildings and sites done virtually. Virtual industry sector focused webinars between IPA/EDO’s have been very effective in attracting new investment and jobs. During 2021, Wavteq hosted 34 sector-specific investment opportunity webinars for clients in the U.S., China, Europe, Korea, Japan, and Latin America. This resulted in over 2,000 companies attending and generated hundreds of virtual meetings for EDO/IPO clients and potential investors. 

Webinars are providing critical economic development tips, tools, and tactics for 2022. There are some great training courses and programs for staff, i.e., International Economic Development Council has a robust offering of excellent courses, in person and virtually. Wavteq Institute developed 15 core training courses and workshops offered via the eLearning platform, enabling EDOs and IPAs to upskill and train their staff in Investment and Trade learning, virtually. 

 

2. Social Selling Will Continue to Grow at Exponential Rates

An effective social media marketing strategy is key. The use of social media will continue to grow exponentially and become more commonplace including LinkedIn marketing. Leveraging and expanding your global network of influencers is critical to the success of your social media and other outreach. More than 4.55 billion people (half of the world) now use social media, including 400 million new users who came online in 2021. 

Investment attraction for economic development is much broader than corporate outreach. There are many database influencers, such as Tribe Dynamics’ Discover and Influencer Search tools, on the market that you might consider. Wavteq’s Influencers database focuses on connecting economic development organizations’ and investment promotion agencies’ teams with investment intermediaries in key markets, globally. This database targets site selectors, consultants, banks, legal firms, and other intermediaries, adding an important element to your economic development strategy.  

 

3. Maps become More Important

Online maps have always had the ability to shape customer and prospect experience, serving as both the means of data visualization and a way to deliver location or organizational insights. As personal travel has declined and remote meetings have become the norm, mapping your economic development investment wins and opportunities will help drive inquiries interested to learn more about your location. Some EDOs accomplish this via lists or static maps in marketing materials or on websites. Wavteq’s interactive Investment Map is a virtual tool that tracks company investments in a location and captures industry sectors, incentives, and jobs data for projects.

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4. Teams will Lean on Lead Management

Successfully managing the path of a contact to a lead can feel like a massive task. Again, new contacts are great, leads are crucial, but there is a long road between a lead and a landed investment project in your community. Converting leads into prospects and prospect projects is requiring business development professionals, researchers, and marketers everywhere to manage and build processes to track business lead opportunities. Tools to help you effectively track and manage this core element of your business attraction strategy are critical. There are many lead management tools on the market, i.e., HubSpot, ActiveCampaign, monday.com. Wavteq Amplify is a low-cost lead tool to help you track and manage leads and support existing investors. Designed by economic development experts, this tracking software supports business development, retention, and research teams and the entire life cycle of your business and industry. 

5. Incentives will matter more

Having intelligence on the incentives that EDOs/IPAs are offering to companies provides competitive insights about key drivers in corporate decision making. This type of data and intel informs EDOs/IPAs and provides opportunities to strengthen their competitive position in attracting investment and jobs.

    • Incentives generally fall into three general categories: economic, social, and moral. Most economic development organizations have historically been most familiar with the economic incentives used to entice industry. What most fail to realize is that most successful incentives – the ones that attain the desired change in behaviour – combine all three types. 
    • It is important for EDO/IPAs to leverage technology that offers insights into the role that the incentives played in the decision.

Which tools highlight and track corporate incentives? Which tools are more productive or commonly used than others? Are there marketing incentives that can be used to drive decision makers? 

Investor Watch from Site Selection Magazine is a resource that tracks corporate real estate and development projects. Another example is Wavteq IncentivesFlow database that captures business intelligence with insights into incentives offered to companies for their investments in the U.S. and globally. This tool tracks and reports the company projects, location selected, incentives and jobs.

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Join us in our Round up of 2021 Webinar to learn how your Investment Promotion agency can unlock winning strategies in the face of uncertainty. Wavteq’s globally recognized FDI experts will go beyond general investment promotion numbers to offer interpretations and share a new set of critical economic development tips, tools, and tactics for 2022. 

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