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How the Marketing and Business Development Funnel Drives FDI and Business Attraction

July/August 2021 

Today’s blog introduces the Marketing and Business Development Funnel for economic developers. We will dig into what it is, why it can help you attract more businesses to your community, and how you can use it to close more deals. 

Who should read this article?

If foreign direct investment, business attraction, or business development are important elements of your economic development strategy, then you should keep reading.

Screen Shot 2021 05 10 at 10.27.48 PMWhat is the Marketing and Business Development Funnel?

The Marketing and Business Development Funnel depicts the journey that a site selector or corporate executive takes when assessing new locations. The journey typically begins with an initial evaluation, that identifies your community as a prospect, and it culminates with a decision as to whether your location meets the necessary criteria for investment. Understanding the nature of a structured decision-making process is imperative for economic developers that want to get the inside track and win more deals.

The first step for economic developers is to fill their Marketing and Business Development Funnel by attracting the attention of site selectors, location advisors, and corporate executives who can be referred to collectively as “leads”. The goal is then to retain these leads throughout the subsequent funnel stages to the point where they end up deciding your community is the best location for their business. Moving a site selector through the funnel entails a step-by-step approach that is strategically designed to increase awareness and educate leads about your location’s advantages, assets, and opportunities. 

Why the funnel matters

The funnel can be a valuable concept for economic developers who want to:

  1. Get the attention of site selectors,
  2. Nurture stronger relationships with them, and
  3. Attract more investment to your community.

Applying the Marketing and Business Development Funnel gives you an immediate edge over your competitors that are not dedicating the time and resources to leveraging it.

What are the funnel stages?

The Marketing and Business Development Funnel for economic developers consists of 3 stages – the Awareness Stage, Consideration Stage, and Due Diligence Stage.

Stage 1: Awareness

The awareness stage begins when you get the attention of the site selectors, corporate executives, investors, and businesses you are trying to attract. This stage is critical because it’s where they are first introduced to the strengths and advantages of your location. It’s also the stage where you can start building the case around what sets you apart from competing communities. To do this stage well, economic developers must understand the mindset of a person at the start of a site selection process.

At this stage your job as an economic developer revolves around being helpful, getting attention, and sparking curiosity, rather than providing detailed data or being overly sales-driven. You should be focusing on showcasing your community's unique selling proposition (USP) to encourage site selectors to go to the next stage of the funnel. Having a brief and compelling elevator pitch for your location is key but just as important is the ability to effectively convey that message through your marketing materials.

Stage 2: Consideration

This stage is where the real work begins. You’ve got the attention of location advisors and corporate executives. Now you have to keep it and enhance engagement until they are ready to short-list your location and/or connect with you in person. When a site selector first lands on your website they are in the early phases of research, which likely means comparing different locations and creating a shortlist. As such, your immediate priority is to communicate your location’s advantages in the “Why Us” section of your website. This “Why Us” narrative needs to be easy to find, relevant and engaging.

Stage 3: Assist

Great news – in this stage your location is has been short-listed by a site selector and they are ready to undertake a more detailed analysis as part of their due diligence. Your goal is to assist them with the information they need to build certainty, increase trust, and feel confident in deciding that your community is the right location for their business.

Why you need to optimize your Funnel

I’ll tell you something you probably already know. Site selectors have a lot of options. Of course, you want them to pick your location, but it is a very competitive process. Consequently, you need to promote your location effectively and sell it efficiently.  Without a tight, optimized Marketing and Business Development Funnel, you are not providing what site selectors want when they want it. This increases the chances of your location missing out on new job-creating opportunities.


Ultimately, the Marketing and Business Development Funnel is about building relationships and when it comes to site selection, building strong relationships is the key to success. Understanding the needs of site selectors and having a relationship-building mindset will enable you to promote your location more effectively and convince more job-creating businesses to set up in your community.

To read the full version of this blog post go to:

Authored by Dave Parsell, CEO, Localintel. 

To view previous MEDA blogs, visit our Blog Archive page.

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