As with a number of other local authorities, the Economic Development Team at Exeter City Council are looking to attract businesses in particular sectors to the area in order to boost the local economy.
We were approached by the PR company responsible for the communication work of the Inward Investment Team to help to refine the messaging and position Exeter as an attractive place to do business.
The team wanted to understand how Exeter is perceived by businesses, any barriers to moving or expanding to Exeter as a business location and identify any improvements in the support provided to those considering Exeter.
The team wanted to conduct the research with a range of sectors and businesses in various locations.
Additionally, they had a number of hypotheses and internal views about how they believed Exeter was perceived externally by businesses. They also had a range of views on the improvements they felt they should make to their processes to support businesses considering relocation or expansion.
Image result for Exeter science park images
In order to refine and reduce the number of potential views to test, we adopted a 2 stage process. The first qualitative phase consisted of 12 depth interviews with those who had recently relocated to Exeter and those who had contacted the team about relocating to Exeter. This gave us the opportunity to really explore perceptions, motivators and barriers with an informed audience who had already been through the consideration process. From this we developed an online survey to provide quantification to the research. This was sent out to an existing database of enquirers to Exeter City Council and via the local Chamber of Commerce.
As a result of the research, the Economic Development Team were able to identify how best to refine their offer to prospective businesses. Additionally, their PR company were able to refine the positioning and key messages used in communicating Exeter’s offer.