In June 2022, Invest Barrie launched a Business Attraction Campaign with the purpose of positioning Barrie as the perfect place for entrepreneurs to start, grow or scale their business. During the planning stages of the campaign, Invest Barrie staff sought out and received feedback from business support leaders and entrepreneurs in Barrie’s intricately connected business support network. This feedback clearly communicated that while the network was welcoming, there was a gap in the knowledge of where to start to access the various services available to entrepreneurs.
In response to this feedback, Invest Barrie mapped out a support campaign that included the re-launch of the Entrepreneurs & Startups webpage on the Invest Barrie website, as well as a sponsored article in the National Post, a business support infographic in both hard-copy handout and interactive digital formats, digital ads with Village Media, and a social media campaign. Each tactic of the campaign was supported by a photo series highlighting Barrie-based entrepreneurs and their journeys.
Three target audiences were identified for the campaign: local entrepreneurs who would benefit from support, members of the local business support network, and potential business investors who are considering bringing their business to Barrie. Invest Barrie created audience profiles specific for this campaign and identified the age range of this target market was 25 – 44. The goal of this audience was identified as “financial independence.” The emotional need was identified as “accomplishment with purpose.” The challenge was identified as “lack of knowledge and support.”
One of the challenges of this campaign was discovered when mapping out the content specific to the business support handout/digital infographic. Barrie is connected to a broader regional business support network, but in order to provide entrepreneurs a cleaner, clearer roadmap, Invest Barrie staff chose to feature just Barrie services on the handout and in the interactive digital infographic. Understanding and respecting the sensitivities of our regional partners while ensuring they were 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.
The goal of the campaign was to not only support existing entrepreneurs in Barrie, but also attract new investment by showcasing the business support network and the successes that have come out of it. By the end of a 3-month period, the webpage saw an increase of 1093% compared to the same period in 2021. The sponsored content pieces with the National Post and Village Media also surpassed campaign goals in terms of click-through-rates (CTR). One of the campaign goals was to meet the industry standard for each media outlet. For the National Post, industry standard CTR is 0.9% and the campaign received a CTR of 2.53%. For Village Media, industry standard is 0.06% and the campaign received a CTR of 0.24%.
National Post article – How entrepreneurs succeed in Barrie’s connected community
Interactive Entrepreneurial Web Tool – Find Resources and Support