Signalfire exists in a strange geographic and business location. I’ve referred to it as the business “Bermuda Quadrangle”. Milwaukee, Madison, Rockford and Chicago form this strange quadrangle around one of the most potentially vibrant business areas in the midwest.
Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin are home to a range of manufacturing, light industry and tourism that would make any other two states drool… But for Wisconsin and Illinois, they treat this region as the red-headed step-child that is more nuisance than potential prodigal. Not as affluent as Chicago, not as “blue collar” as Milwaukee. Not as progressive as Madison, not as industrial as Rockford.
When Whitewater, Wisconsin—smack in the middle of the Quadrangle—announces new plans to bring in business, one hopes this small college town embraces some truly groundbreaking ways to bring companies in. Huge tax incentive? No. Dirt cheap energy? No. How about low cost of living? Not according to my tax bill. So, how???
DIRECT MAIL! Wow! See this article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel http://bit.ly/3wzh8v
The first phase is a five-postcard direct mail campaign aimed at executives in the region. One postcard will be sent to each executive roughly once a week through the end of June. After the direct mail campaign ends, follow-up phone calls will be made.
A University of Wisconsin Ph.D. came up with this? From his own side company, no less. A college full of web 2.0 users (or web 1.5—they have Facebook, at least) and the most ambitious approach is junk mail.
When businesses move, it’s for a darn good reason. Lower energy, lower taxes, better emplyment pool, etc. Whitewater, Wisconsin is about fifteen miles from me and reading this article makes me think that someone completely missed the last 24 months of the business world.
As a business potentially impacted by the success of this project, why didn’t Whitewater take the simple step of polling regional businesses? Did they look into current marketing practices? What will this brilliant direct mail campaign boast?
If communities are serious about attracting business, look at what drives businesses from an area. Regretfully, the business exodus from Wisconsin is due to state policies and little to do with individual communities.
Some potential ideas? How about business incubators—small office spaces for startups? Work on developing a startup program with students? For brick and mortar businesses, how about some real incentives like property tax breaks, energy coupons or land improvements?
Reaching decision-making executives should be done with something more than a postcard. Rather than using a Ph.D. try using local business leaders spearheading a networking approach.