A Modern BRE Annual Visit Strategy for 2021

Tom WenglerEconomic Development, MarketingLeave a Comment

Too many economic development organizations have been coached and programmed to chase data in order to generate reports, graphs and charts. While the data looks great to the board, you can do better.

Here is an improved philosophy and actionable strategy to make the most of your annual visits.

Key Points

  • Many of your local businesses need your help now more than ever.
  • Business executives have been fragmented and scrambling to adjust to market conditions – focus on providing true value to the business.
  • Adopt a “helping mentality”. Everything you do for BRE should start by asking one simple question as your North Star…
    “How can we help”?
  • Professionalism, efficiency and follow up are critical elements to your success.

The Annual BRE Visit

Target specific companies and executives to meet with. Expect virtual meetings. Learn to master your online meeting technology and get your meeting conditions perfect.

  • You’ll need a high-quality video camera, microphone, speakers and the proper lighting.
    • Camera placement is key – your head should be 2” below the top of the screen.
    • Dress for success. You must make a great first and last impression.
    • Background – clean, no books, get rid of the cheesy zoom background and blurred image.
First Impressions Count with your Virtual BRE meetings!

Do your research before the call

Join the meeting early.

Example of a BRE Engagement

  • 10am..review company data in CRM, social media, google alerts
    • 10:10  join meeting
    • 10:15 meeting starts
      • Log in with their website on display
      • Put their logo in your background (pre-meeting prep)
      • Have an agenda that is about the client’s business and how you can help.
      • Close with action items and a thank you.
      • Follow up with a video email, thank you email, or a personal note.
    • 1035: wrap up and close – summarize and schedule next step if appropriate
    • 10:40: hard stop and document next steps in CRM
    • 10:50: take a 10’ break

Before the meeting – be ready to sell.

Yes, you are selling the person on the value (for them) to take 25 minutes to meet with you. Answer these questions – this is part of your BRE strategy.

  1. Why would a business owner/executive want to meet with me?
  2. What challenges might the business be facing right now?
  3. What are some likely action-items that might follow the meeting?
    1. Incentive discussion?
    1. Grants, loans?
    1. An expansion is planned.
    1. The business might be at risk – we must be ready to introduce resources to help.
    1. Workers are needed for certain roles – is your workforce dev program ready to respond?

Use an email template that “sells” the value of the meeting.

Subject line – this must be short and it must stand out. Personalize the subject line.

Write a strong opening line

  • Include helpful body copy – explain what you do and how you might be able to help their business.
  • Add a Call to Action
  • Include a link that allows the individual to schedule time on your calendar.
  • Ask 3-4 questions on the meeting link that allow them to choose what they might like to discuss. Now are you armed with intel before the meeting so you can show up prepared.
  • Add a professional signature.
  • Consider adding a video.

Add a link to a website landing page that talks about how you’ve worked with other local businesses.

Capture Data Before the Meeting

If you really need a ton of data…use a website form or survey and ask the executive to complete this themselves or have someone on their team do it. Show them what data you’d like to have about them, explain how you use the data and how it helps them.

If another person on their team will complete this get their contact info, send a follow-up email and cc your original contact.

Don’t be annoying – what does a CEO get out a conversation when they are answering these questions…

  • How many full and part time employees do you have?
  • Do you own or lease your building?
  • When does your lease expire?
  • What are your annual sales?


  • Tell me about your business… what was your biggest success last year?
  • Are you intending to offer new products or services? Tell me about this…
  • Lots of employers want to talk about their workforce and need for talent – is that on your mind?

Most Importantlylisten.

If there are actions that you can take …summarize to ensure accuracy and then document the next action step.

Get into Action.

Either create and assign a task or Create a Ticket Record or create a Project Record in your CRM system. These records allow for even deeper reporting and actionable follow-up. Your BRE reports to the board will be better when you can show:

  • Existing Industry Support Metrics Met
  • Projects identified as a result of the BRE efforts
  • Referrals and collaboration with other partners
  • Stories “After meeting with ___________, we learned________________ and then we did _______________ which resulted in ______________”.
  • Testimonials
  • Aggregated data – year over year reporting, reporting by industry cluster, single company year over year reporting.
  • Forecast job growth
  • Share insights that the data reveals
    • We are going to have a shortage of ____________ skills and increased demand for these same positions.
    • As such, our workforce development strategy will be designed to increase the labor pool in order to avoid this scenario.
    • Unless we address this gap, we may lose companies due to a lack of talent in the next few years

Helpful Resources

Sample Website Page loaded with helpful tools…

This is an online meeting scheduling tool – you’re making it easy for your contacts to schedule time with you.
This is the 2nd screen in the online meeting tool – you are capturing great info before the meeting. These are the topics your audience wants to discuss with you.

Manage your Annual Visits

Email template used to get a meeting…

Dashboard-Report Sample

2020 Data (can be split to show data for an industry cluster, company size, etc.)

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