April 18, 2014

Case study: how to improve the online marketing of Sophia Antipolis, France

When I was a fresh university graduates in Hungary, the very first science park and R&D location I heard about was Sophia Antipolis. The guy who spoke about it, was working there, and now he is the rector of my hometown university. In Europe, Sophia Antipolis is undoubtedly the #1 science and tech location - but does the location's online presence fit to its R&D presence?

Hard work in Sophia Antipolis, France

I've just listed some tips how to improve the online marketing of this concrete location:

Search Enigine Optimization
As I earlier wrote, search engine optimization is an important tool for place branding. I don't want to repeat myself, just a word: it's matter how to call something on the web, because you will involve it to your URL, to title tags and so on. The "Cote D'Azur" (Azur/Sea Blue Coast) is a well-known name in France/Europe, but the rest of the world call it French Riviera. And the top of all that: the relevance of these names for businesses is probably lower than "Sophia Antipolis" (Sophia Antipolis is a science village closed to Nice, on the French Riviera). If I were the local development agency (Team Cote D'Azur), I would think more seriously about the brand name Sophia Antipolis in investment promotion.

As an R&D site selector in Europe, I would have problems to find information about competing locations (just search on Google and you will see it, too). It's obviously a perfect niche market for Sophia Antipolis' content marketers (check out my "Free Resources" section about destination blogging and about SlideShare presentations). 

Honestly said, the largest difference between Sophia Antipolis and its competing locations like Mediconvalley (Copenhagen/South Sweden) or Oxford, that Sophia Antipolis (or the French Riviera) provides an all-year-holiday. The staff of the cold, foggy Northern European R&D locations come here for vacation. In my experiences, the lifestyle of the location can be critical in some site selection projects: if site selectors have to live there, they care less with the company's interest and more how to convince their wives about the the move.
Honey, we have to work and live here
If I were Team Cote D'Azure, I would build more aggressively on this. In blog posts' images and YouTube videos I would overemphasize the lifestyle. Not all location can build on this factor, than why you should miss it? After that you just have to help site selectors to sell Sophia Antipolis for their board - because site selectors became your best sales agents.
Or oven more: I would launch a talent attracting portal like Talent in Berlin. Economic development in knowledge based industries mostly depends on talent pool, but, against the Berlin job portal, I would emphasize the lifestyle in Sofia Antipolis.

I hope you found these tips interesting. Would like to get a similar one about your location, ask my Qiuck Tips for Free.