In 2022, Invest Barrie launched a Business Attraction Campaign positioning Barrie as the perfect place for entrepreneurs to start, grow or scale their business. During the planning, Invest Barrie staff sought out feedback from business support leaders and entrepreneurs on Barrie’s intricately connected business support network. This feedback communicated that there was a gap in the knowledge of where an entrepreneur could go for what services.
Invest Barrie responded by mapping the Barrie business support network in a new and innovative way by creating a printed handout that would also exist as a digital interactive quiz. The purpose of this unique promotional item is to help build awareness of the supports available for both existing and new businesses in an easily navigable way. It serves as an entry point into the business support network and shows that Barrie has supports for businesses at all stages and sizes.
The printed version is handed out face-to-face by Invest Barrie staff to local businesses during regular business engagement. It’s also available for distribution at forums, fairs and events. The digital interactive quiz was featured in a sponsored National Post article as part of the business attraction campaign and lives permanently on the Invest Barrie website. It will continue to be leveraged through social media as its purpose has already proven to serve its audience.
An objective of this campaign included an increase in pageviews on the Invest Barrie website pages that housed the campaign by 10% over a three-month period. In the 3.5 weeks leading up to the campaign launch, this webpage earned 11 pageviews. Within 6 weeks following the campaign launch, this webpage earned 60 pageviews (an increase of 445%) with a 4:20 average time on page (an increase of 128%). Of the 1000 printed handouts, approximately 650 have been hand-delivered so far to businesses, as well as distributed at local forums, fairs and events.
To provide entrepreneurs a clearer roadmap, Invest Barrie chose to feature just Barrie services. Understanding the sensitivities of our regional partners while ensuring they are aware that the purpose of the project is to provide entrepreneurs with an entry point into the network was an expected challenge that proved to be manageable due to our already strong relationships. Another challenge is that information tied to this piece will change, and so the Invest Barrie team ensures entrepreneurs understands that this is meant to reflect a point in time and to introduce them to the network waiting to support them. The pieces will be reviewed annually to ensure information accuracy.
The target audience is two-fold. First, its purpose is to inform local businesses and entrepreneurs of the support networks available to them in Barrie. Second, it is meant to attract new business and new entrepreneurs to Barrie by showcasing the supportive local business network. The geographic areas of these audiences include Barrie and Simcoe County, but also the GTA and beyond. The age range of this target market was 25 – 44. The goal of this audience was “financial independence.” The emotional need was “accomplishment with purpose.” The challenge was “lack of knowledge and support.”
The selected printer “thinks green” and “prints smarter.” They have recycling programs, they control their waste, they use resources wisely, and they choose smart vegetable- or soy-based inks. They are an established Barrie business that also supports the community and its not-for-profit organizations in various ways. Additionally, the Invest Barrie staff hand-delivered the business support handouts by foot, covering 10km per day. Ensuring a low environmental impact for this project was a key priority which also helped the business community understand that they have a support network ready to physically walk to them to ensure their connectivity.