Marketing plan to attract business to Solano County catching on, officials say
Solano County's Economic Development Corporation reported that it has successfully implemented a 32-point action program supporting its “Moving Solano Forward” vision in 2018 designed to stimulate continued growth, investment and capacity.
These efforts resulted in 30 percent higher revenue among firms in the county last year along with a 45 percent growth in private investment.
President and CEO Robert Burris said the EDC has also launched a new social media marketing platform resulting in rapid growth in the number of prospects able to provide new jobs and investment in the region. He was Speaking to more than 200 attendees, including 41 local and state elected officials along with Senator Bill Dodd, at the 36th annual Solano Economic Development Corporation meeting, held in Fairfield on Wednesday,
“We experienced four-fold growth last year. Marketing is a team sport. Our task force developed proactive rules of engagement that encompasses a number of cooperative agreements, a pilot retention effort program, and a collaborative marketing plan to showcase benefits associated with Solano. We also have an enhanced, coordinated conferencing and events plan involving businesses and those thinking about moving here that includes intelligence sharing for regional success.”
In addition, this comprehensive marketing program also includes sponsorships and placed advertising, active engagement in several state-wide and northern California organizations.
The EDC's three key action plan goals involve solidifying revenue growth and capacity, streamlining operations in a lean organization model, and focusing on the use of digital media to market the county.
“We're focused on ways to bring more jobs and opportunities to Solano with special emphasis on three industry clusters: life sciences, food and beverage and advanced manufacturing including chemicals, materials and businesses supporting research, government and the Department of Defense,” Burris said.
Burris said he and his team, along with regional authorities, have hit the road aggressively seeking new business prospects by going outside of the region to meet with those interested in coming to come to Solano on their own turf, such as medical and real estate executives. These efforts also involve participating in major nationwide conferences, such as the upcoming June Bio-Tech conference in Philadelphia. He reported that 76 percent of the companies looking at Solano find the county's R&D and manufacturing possibilities to be highly attractive.
“We have a great region as a base and hub for those engaged in logistics and warehousing operations and other industry categories as well as a great transportation system," Burris said. "As a result, we're seeing higher salaries, greater density, more investment and firms staying longer than before. This has led to the creation of more jobs per square foot. Our outreach activities have exposed us to networks we have not engaged with in the past.”
He said increasing the visibility of the EDC's role in attracting business involves creating new content, collateral materials, and a package of video tours showing what he calls “exciting views of the region.” The first of six planned online videos showcasing the county in terms of what it has to offer for each major business category has been produced, and others will follow in 2019. Beyond refreshed visuals, there is an investor package and social profile images enhanced with custom photography.
Burris said these upgrades have included an improved web page and that “visits to the EDC's site have soared.”
Marketing Director Alaina Gjertsen talked about results seen to date due to this aspect of the marketing campaign.
“Our mission is to reinvigorate the brand moving forward using custom content and by weaving vital themes across all materials and advertising during the year ahead,” she said.
Online results show a 11,600 percent increase in social media engagement, a 1,900 percent rise in posted views along with a 172 percent spike in followers that Gjertsen says “proves that our messages are resonating beyond Solano.”
Increased web traffic has led to more leads. Since the EDC started receiving monthly Google Analytics reports, it has seen an average of 773 new visitors each month to its website (www.SolanoEDC.org.) with an average of 947 sessions per month, including new and prior user site visits.
According to Gjertsen, the objective is to turn these leads into conversions, by continuing to create business connections, building awareness and providing value through social conversations. Next steps include expanding the social media “funnel” for channeling prospects for follow up by the EDC, while gaining further and larger audience growth.
As an example of a tangible result from what is known as “earned media” exposure, a post talking about results of Solano's Energy Saving Program over five years powering the equivalent of 921 homes and putting over $2.6 million back into the business community, created a positive impression on the business community and among firms outside of the county seeing what this organization has done -- and could do -- for them.
“Looking forward, our goal is to answer the question, ‘Why Solano?' by emphasizing facts such as our highest affordability index rating among counties in the greater Bay Area, and our proximity to major seaports, customers and markets. Other reasons include a robust transportation system, an infrastructure made for our targeted industry clusters, a strong and growing pipeline of talent, available land and space, along with growth in entrepreneurship and innovation in our region.”
She invites businesses in Solano County with news to contact her via Alaina@AlainaGjertsen.com. Announcements and imagery they approve for the EDC to share, as well as requests to be added to the EDC's mailing list. Other ways to connect with the EDC include access via @SolanoCountyMeansBusiness (Facebook); @Solano_EDC (Twitter); @Solano-edc (LinkedIn) and @Solanoedc (Instagram).