By PAULINE CLARK
A series of mayor’s forums on business are being held in North Bay as part of what Nancy Creighton refers to as “an exciting new two-year marketing plan.”
“The forums were developed because we wanted feedback from the business community on issues that are important to them,” says Creighton, who is executive director for the North Bay Economic Development Commission.
That feedback could include information on where businesses see gaps, as well as opportunities they would like to see pursued.
“We want to know why they think North Bay is an attractive place to do business,” Creighton explains.
The information gathering is just part of a larger plan that will be unfolding over the next few months to market North Bay’s assets.
In parternship with various businesses, boards, councils and organizations, Creighton says the forums will help provide them with the marketing message they want to convey.
Six of the seven weekly round-table forums are geared to businesses of specific sizes ranging from under 10 employees to more than 80 employees.
“Meeting separately with different sized businesses should help us get a different mix of ideas,” Creighton says.
The final forum will be made up of not-for-profit groups and organizations, including post-secondary educational institutions and the hospital.
The information compiled from the forums will be combined with results from a quality of life survey completed by Nipissing University for the EDC. From that, they will develop a message that will attract targeted businesses to North Bay.
“We’ll also look at what we can do to help the businesses on an individual basis,” Creighton says.
What makes the program innovative is how it will be implemented through a method of viral marketing that will be accomplished with the help of TeleTech, she says. They will be contacting targeted non-local companies through the use of Bell Canada’s Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software.
The unified community marketing piece they develop may also be implemented in the cultural and recreational sectors.
“We’ll be able to customize it for target markets, whether it’s for the university to attract students or personnel or for a company to recruit more employees,” she explains.
While using these innovative techniques, Creighton says they will supplement these techniques with more traditional marketing methods such as attending trade shows and distributing brochures.
The telemarketing portion of the plan is expected to start in May. Because of the nature of the plan, Creighton says the target list will be very important.
“That’s one of our challenges and keeping it updated will be an ongoing process,” Creighton says.
A service provider will be hired to compile the list, although a portion will be compiled from internal sources.
Creighton says statistics have shown that 80 per cent of new jobs come from businesses already within the community.