One Size Does Not Fit All

In my role as behind-the-scenes design “expert” for RDG, I am the chief Principal responsible for making our proposal responses to RFPs look the part. I am also involved in many of RDG’s projects simultaneously. As a result, I see just how different each engagement develops over time and ends up serving our respective clients, each sharing similar tenets, but in the end, taking shape as its own unique case.
 
I’ve thought a lot about this over the last few months as we have trudged through our busy 2019 schedule and I have transitioned from project to project – best practice studies, investment campaigns, funding feasibilities. Why? Because one size does not fit all. Investor relations practices that work for one client might be useless for another. A stand-alone leadership council serves some organizations well whereas others do best with subsets of their board of directors. RDG’s customized approach is what I like most about what we do.

A great example of this concept is the Charleston region. RDG has been lucky to work for a few of their local economic development organizations in the last four years, most recently with Dorchester Economic Development Corporation  and with the Charleston Regional Development Alliance . CRDA serves as the tri-county region’s marketing alliance and DEDC is the main economic development arm for one of those three counties, Dorchester County. While the overall objective of each is aligned; namely, economic growth for their jurisdiction, the investment campaigns look very different, reflecting each of their unique and important roles in the regional eco-system:

DORCHESTER ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION
CHARLESTON REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT ALLIANCE 
DEDC raised significant private investment dollars for the first time as a new 501(c)3.
CRDA has been in operation for two and a half decades and is considered to be a high performing organization with a strong track record of success.
Investor prospect pool was large, targeting any organizations that have a specific vested interested in Dorchester County’s growth.
CRDA’s investor prospect pool was purposefully targeted towards potential investors that have an interest in regional growth and have the ability to invest at higher levels. A broad prospect list would not have been the right approach.
A campaign task force was critical to the success of the campaign, giving a new organization without much public awareness political clout and significance thanks to the trusted endorsement of community leaders. CRDA is already well known in the community and has a large board of directors. In lieu of an official campaign leadership task force, individuals within the board of directors and the Economic Leadership Council have assisted the campaign in securing commitments.
Investment levels and requests were modest, given the fact that DEDC operates as a single county EDO and many investors also support the regional alliance. Traditional investment benefits were important to DEDC investors looking to gain recognition and forge relationships in Dorchester County.
Investor benefits for CRDA follow a more unique approach, focusing on relationship building and involvement in projects versus traditional transactional marketing benefits that don’t carry a lot of importance among investors.

 

Both of these campaigns operated in the same region and had similar missions but required different approaches due to individual circumstances. As a result, both campaigns were able to coexist in the market and both clients have seen beneficial outcomes. DEDC is now operating with over 450% more private revenue. CRDA, while still in its campaign cycle for a few more months, has already gained a significant number of new investors, enhancing their board of directors, which is now the most economically diverse in CRDA’s history. If we had tried to implement the same approach to both projects, we would have experienced significant obstacles as a result of not reading our target audience correctly.

The moral of this story: one size does not fit all. In my humble opinion, it’s too good to be true and your pants might split the first time you sit down 🙂

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