Top TIPS & Insights for Economic Development Organizations to Generate Quality Leads

By Daniella Pellandi

Investment Promotion Agencies (IPAs) and Economic Development Organizations (EDOs) should have lead generation as one of their main activities. Lead generation or investor targeting involves pro-actively targeting specific companies that could have interest in a specific location. The objective of lead generation is to generate good quality business leads, however it is also worth considering that FDI decision-making can take on average 2-5 years, lead generation is only successful when there is sustained and long-term follow-up with companies. Having worked in Lead Generation since 2016, in this blog I will outline some ways an economic development organisation can enhance its lead generation outreach.

Here are some tips to consider when reaching out to prospects:

1. Know your value proposition and what makes your location stand out

Before reaching out to prospects, you need to understand your location’s offer to potential investors. It is essential to have a clear and strong value proposition.

You should be able to answer the question: What makes your location unique, attractive and makes it stand out from the thousands of other locations?

IPAs and EDOs should always know what they are offering to investors before they go out and search for prospects. This will be very useful when targeting companies and during the outreach.

In a nutshell, have a clear and differentiated “value proposition” and ”hook” for each prospect you are reaching out to. This is essential before an organization begins lead generation.


2. Define your Target Audience

Before reaching out to prospects, it is essential to define your target audience. This means identifying the types of people or companies that are most likely to be interested in your location.

Building a target list of quality companies should be a top priority. Focusing on quality target companies can potentially increase the rate of converting those prospects into leads and eventually projects.

So, how to create a quality target list?

The target list of potential investors should contain companies that are aligned with your location, that fit perfectly in the ecosystem and value chain, and that could clearly benefit from having an operation in your location.

Some tips for searching for target companies are:

Search for companies that are growing, that could be considering international expansion in the near future. Using online tools like google alerts, industry journals, specialized industry websites, etc, could be a good start to search for target companies. Consider companies that are already trading, FDI normally follows trade. Companies who have recently raised finds could be a sign that this company is looking to expand internationally. fDi Markets offers a 'signals' platform which highlights companies which are focusing on international expansion, this can be useful to find companies in expansion mode but also with a focus on your region. 

Investor targeting can generate a large amount of interest, and the IPAs/ EDOs need to make sure they has the capacity available to respond to inquiries. Many IPAs /EDOs have failed to attract investment due to a lack of capacity in investment facilitation.


3. Use different contact methods – depending on the market

Prospects should be contacted using a multi-touch approach. This means approaching the prospects using various contact methods and contacting different decision makers within a company.

Email: Email is a cheap and effective way to get in touch with potential investors. Email can be used to distribute promotional items such as newsletters and tailored messaging. Make sure your emails are tailored and targeted for the best outcomes.

Social media: Social media is a powerful tool for getting your message out to a broad audience. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are a few examples of social media sites you may use to post content, interact with potential customers, and advertise your goods and services. Verify that you select the social media channels where your target market is most engaged.

Paid Ads: Paid ads can help you reach a wider audience and generate more leads. You can use platforms like Google Ads, Facebook Ads, or LinkedIn Ads to target specific demographics, interests, and behaviours. Make sure to create targeted ads with compelling copy and images to attract potential leads.

Events: Meeting potential leads in person might be facilitated by attending or organizing events. You can meet new clients and gather leads by going to trade exhibitions, conferences, or other events in your field.

One decision maker should be approached at least 3 times by email, relevant social media such as LinkedIn, phone call or other method of contact. This should be repeated with every relevant decision maker you identify in the company. If the decision maker is unresponsive after being approached several times, no further engagement is recommended. You should have a multi-touch approach that is persistent, patient and respectful. Definitely avoid harassing executives.

A different strategy should be used for different markets, as the business culture differs according to each country and region. For instance, email and social media outreach strategy might work for markets like the UK and the US, but this same strategy might not work for Asian countries.


4. Identify and contact the right people

After building a target list of quality companies, relevant decision makers should be identified within the company. For midsize companies, the Chairman, CEO, President is the most relevant decision maker. For larger companies there could be other relevant decision makers such as COO, CFO, CCO, Head of New Business, Operations Director, Head of Strategy and Planning, Chief Growth Officer, Strategy Director, among others. Additionally, there are also key decision markets for each region, so for instance, for Africa it would be more relevant to contact the Head of Africa etc. In recent years, LinkedIn has become the main source to find the relevant decision makers, as well as other online sources such as the company’s website, events, etc.

It is also important to remember, that whilst you may not get an immediate engagement with a CEO, other staff members can act as influencers within your target company, so be open and willing to speak with these individuals if available.


5. Personalize the message

When contacting prospects, the message should be personalized and customized for each specific decision maker and company. The message should show that you did your homework, meaning you know what the company does, relevant recent news, their expansion plans, and why they would be a perfect fit for your location.

The email should be directed directly to the decision maker, a brief introduction of who you are and why you are contacting them, information on why their company could benefit from having operations in your location, and finally a call of action.

Make sure to use their name, this personalised approach is a simple but effective way to catch their attention and show that you have done your research and not just sent a mass email. You can also use a conversational tone in your outreach to encourage the decision maker to engage with you. Always avoid generic templates.


6. Aim to maintain long term relationships

Maintaining a strong and ongoing relationship with company decision makers once you have had initial engagements is essential to ensure your location is in a strong position to win that investors potential project. Sustained investor follow-up ensures that you have the best possible chance of closing the investment project with the investor.

IPAs and EDOs should be both proactive and reactive in developing a long-lasting relationship with a prospective investor, by providing information that is both requested directly by the investor through RFIs, but also by offering additional information which is relevant, connecting on social media so the investor can receive updates (including inviting the investor to follow your IPA/EDO page) but also by inviting the investor to visit your location on a bespoke site visit or by inviting them to join relevant events/ webinars hosted by your IPA/EDO.


Find out about Wavteq’s FDI lead generation and representation services

Whether you need full in-market sales representation, support with specific trade shows, investment missions, and seminars or simply need to bolster your pipeline of trade and investment leads we can meet your needs.

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