Why FDI campaigns are as much about the heart as the head


Most economies in the world are seeking to attract Foreign Direct Investment as a key driver of future economic growth.

Investment and economic development boards typically have substantial budgets to promote their country and market opportunities.

But global FDI campaigns are targeting a relatively small number of senior decision makers.

And most countries are making the same or similar claims.

So the communications challenge for any successful inward investment campaign is how to cut through all the noise with a proposition which is both distinctive and credible.

The answer is not to concentrate solely on what a country has to offer but rather think long and hard about what target businesses actually want.

You need a deep understanding of what drives FDI decisions and design the communications and engagement programme around the need as well as the offer.

Our experience is that investment decisions are made on relatively few factors, some are hard factors such as logistics and ICT infrastructure and some are soft factors such as lifestyle, quality of local schools and leisure facilities.

The fact is that decisions are never entirely rational, they are also emotional and a really successful campaign must make a connection at both levels.

Planning a campaign therefore begins with the target prospects, identifying factors such as how many ex-pats will relocate to the country, how easy is it for women executives to operate, what is the requirement for skilled local workers, how easy will it be to deal with different ministries and regulators to get operating licences and is there a good dispute resolution process should there be difficulties down the line?

Of course, access to profitable business opportunities and competitive operating costs will be very important but very often these are not the considerations that close the deal.

That is because FDI is very much a contact sport. You ultimately have to get the decision makers into the country, they have see for themselves, they have to absorb the culture, meet local people and feel the business environment in their bones.

Ultimately the decision will be made as much in the heart as the head which is why any FDI campaign is about tonality as well as content.

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