Ways To Attract “Site Selectors”

First of all, what are “site selectors”?

These are consultants or firms that provide professional project locations services to companies contemplating expansion, relocation and/or consolidation of business opportunities. Some site selectors might primarily operate in Canada and the United States while others operate world wide. The large site selection firms have in-depth knowledge and computerized data-bases that produce cost-effective analyses for their clients.

Check out the well known American site selector magazine website: http://www.siteselection.com/

A good example of a region’s website designed specifically for attracting site selectors and new investment is that of South Dundas Township in Ontario: http://www.southdundas.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=117Itemid=22

Ontario has taken a provincial approach to attracting site selectors – check out the following website: http://www.sse.gov.on.ca/medt/investinontario/en/Pages/SiteSelectionTool.aspx

Companies hire site selectors for two primary reasons:

  • Reputable, well known site selectors have proven methodologies and produce impressive results in resolving the specific needs of their clients; they can consistently produce project results that directly benefit a company’s bottom line and therefore, large companies like Wal-Mart use site selectors extensively to search out new market opportunties.
  • Often major companies don’t want the media, suppliers, politicians and/or clients to know they are “snooping around” to find a new market place, a more cost effective location to do business or a suitable site for expansion. Often this information is not made public until the company has made a final decision. (This is another reason why all the information needed by site selectors should be on the community or regional website). A site selector may be scouting aroudn the province or in a particular region — the local municpal council or economic development officer won’t even know this site selecto is checking out the community until the site selector’s client is about ready to make a final decision!

Site selectors are the people that economic development practitioners and community leaders want to attract. Following are dome basic “do’s” and “don’ts” in your marketing efforts to get the attention of site selectors:


  • Don’t send site selectors and business prospects videos or CD-Roms of the community. Site selectors do not have the time nor desire to sit through community presentations on video or CD/DVD. Nor will these likely contain the specific information they need to make decisions. So, as an economic development organization, these are not good investments for marketing your community or region.
  • Large packages of information are not popular with site selectors either.
  • Don’t think that by arranging a “face to face” meeting with a site selector, you or your community can smooze them into considering your community for an industry or business location. These peopel make their decisions on factual information and data, market logistics and their clients’ needs. Site Selectors decisions or recommendations to clients are never made on the basis of a community’s hospitality and amount of free flowing wine!
  • Don’t make it necessary for site selectors to look at several local web sites to get the basic information they need. (Often times there are bits of useful data on a Chamber of Commerce, municipal or regional organizations website but very few local organizations collaborate to ensure all the essential data is housed on one website to make it easier and more effective in attracting business).
  • When collecting a stockpile of information for potential site selectors, don’t waste your time including statistics from provincal departments and other statistics that they can access on their own very quickly. It is alright to provide a “link” to this type of data on your website but you need to concentrate on collectiong and providing information unique to your community or region and business clusters that cannot be found anywhere else.
  • If you are trying to attract direct foreign investment or a business from overseas, don’t try to do it on your own. First you need to take a regional approach and secondly, you need to work very closely with organizations like Saskatchewan Trade & Export Partnership (STEP).


  • Print newsletters and brochures are handy for site selectos consultants to stuff in a briefcase and read while staying in a hotel, waiting at an airport or travelling on a plane. Although e-newletters can be somewhat effective, many site selector consultants prefer “hard copy”. More and more, busy consultants’ e-mail in-baskets are being clogged with unsolicited mail. Many receive dozens of e-mails a day. Busy consultants do not have time to read all e-mails received; it is simply good time management to delete an e-mail from an unfamiliar or un-identified source.
  • If you are providing a site selector with a lengthy study, such as a feasibility study, ask whether he/she would prefer receiving a copy electronically or in hard copy by regular or express postal service.
  • If at all prossible, arrange “face time” with a prospective site selector. The “in person” meeting is often much more effective than exchanging e-mails and telephone calls. But remember: Find out in advance the type of information needed by the site selector, and have that information readily available at the meeting. What would likely impress a site selector even more is when a group of representives from several communties arrange a meeting to discuss their proposal. The presentation is always more impressive when there is inter-municipal collaboration and a regional approach to development.
  • Whether in an e-mail or in hard copy, provide information to site selectors that they can’t get anywhere else. Examples of this type of information include: top ten employers in the community or region, unions, education (especially industry training), local tax and development incentives, current site and building information, local infrastructure (roads, water, sewer, and utilities). It is extremely important to keep data updated on your website – outdated information is a turn off for site selectors.

    Are development incentives important? They sure can be! A very competitive global market place has forced companies to continually strive for greater efficiency. Cost savings are very important to companies looking to relocate or expand.

  • After much discussion and negotiating – and once the site selector has short listed to one or two of the most suitable communities, the prospective community or region should put together a detailed proposal for the site selector including: dollar value incentives, training programs and other types of incentives to “seal the deal”.

    The type of incentive most attractive to prospective businesses will largely depend on their growth cycle. Start up businesses generally need help with up front costs, including land development costs, whereas other companies may find tax incentives very attractive. The economic development officer needs to collect a great deal of information about the prospective business in order to know what type of incentives would help “cinch the deal”.

  • If you are trying to attract a foreign company or foreign investment, get someone on your team that knows the cultrue in that country. You want to create a comfortable working relationship with the overseas representatives – you can’t possibly do that if you do not know the business protocol and cultural idiosyncrasies of their country.
  • If you want to make a good impression with a site selector, you must get the fundamentals right. That means having all the key players on your team. This depends somewhat on the type of business proposal being considered but generally speaking you will need: the Mayor (or Mayors and Reeves), president of the college, the regional and local economic development officers, a banker, an engineer, a laywer, possibly executives from some companies already operating in your area, president and manager of the Chamber of Commerce and other community leaders as deemend appropriate.
  • After you become known to the site selector firm, their consultants generally prefer electronic media as the quickest and most efective means of communicating and providing information. Examples are:
    • A community’s e-mail letter with intriguing information and a clear message could easily prompt enough interest from a site selector to check out the sender’s website. (That website has better be kept up-to-date and accurate, and contain relevant information to peak the site selector’s interest. If the information is a year or two old or if the information isn’t relevant, the site selector won’t waste his or her time checking any further.) But BEWARE, some site selectors automatically delete unsolicited e-mails, even though they use e-mail extensively for communicating back and forth with a client about specific projects, etc.
    • A good website is by far a community or region’s most important business recruitment tool. There are three things economic development officers need to bear in mind when creating websites to market a community or region. These are: (1) website speed, (2) ease of navigation throughout the site, and (3) usefulness of data.
    • Regarding speed, don’t have a lot of “flash” and cute features that would take an unacceptable amount of time to download if a consultant was workign from his or her laptop. The site needs to be attractive but at the same time quick and easy to navigate.
    • With respect to data, keep in mind the target audience(s). One purpose of the community or region’s website is likely to provide better and quicker information to local residents but if another purpose is to attract site selectors and business, you must ensure that the type of information these people look for is on the website and easy to find.
    • Ensure that contact information (economic development officer’s phone number and email address, etc.) is not just on the home page, but provided in numerous locations throughout the website.
    • Also, make it easy for site selectors to find the data they need so that they can quickly navigate to that area of the website without having to “weed though” a lot of other general community information or promotional “fluff”.
    • Other website development basics include: a map of the locality and regional map showing major highways and proximity to other locations and distributions centers.
    • Make sure there are active “links” to other websites likely to be of assistance to site selectors.
    • Use a wide variety of “meta-tags” to make it easy for search engines to find your website.
    • Include as a feature on your website some testimony from new or expanding businesses in your community. Nothing captures the interest of site selectors more than words of praise from successful businesses located inyour community or region!