Economic Development Campaign Microsite Review: Missouri Loves Company

By Andrew Davies

Explore how Missouri’s economic development microsite creatively showcases what its state has to offer. Then dive into how we can apply lessons learned from their example.

We’re big fans of economic development microsites. They’re tailor-made for specific purposes, often for a short time. They might showcase certain economic aspects of a region for a particular client or give a new spin to a region’s sales pitch for a fresh marketing push. Because they’re so focused, they’re quicker to make and can be more creative and unconventional compared to the main economic development organization’s website.

Which is why I was so excited to find the Missouri Loves Company microsite. It’s part of a larger campaign of the same name, led by the Missouri Partnership, and offers some valuable insights into making a microsite an effective marketing tool.

First, the Strengths

Using the dating app idea to link a region with interested companies is a smart move. Anyone who knows about attracting new businesses can see how this process can feel like a complex economic courtship. So, using catchy headings like “Find love at first site!” and calling the case studies “Love Stories” is a great way to grab attention. This theme continues in the case studies themselves, with phrases like “settle down,” “relationship,” and “Love Bites” used to reinforce the analogy and keep readers interested.

The Missouri Loves Company economic development microsite Homepage.
Even the color scheme reinforces the idea of match-making on Missouri’s microsite.

Now, the Lessons

1. The Writing: Lean into the Concept

As economic development microsites are mostly text, editing this part would be straightforward. It’s about tweaking labels and adding text. For instance, the menu labels currently use common EconDev terms like “Workforce” and “Collaboration,” along with a generic “Contact us.” While these may be for SEO purposes, brainstorming with a writer or using ChatGPT could generate more imaginative options like “Matchmaking Potential,” “Partnering Opportunities,” and “Relationship Resources.” These are just examples, but you get the gist.

AI-generated options for standard economic development terms.
Just a few AI-generated examples of meu labels that could fit the concept.

One of their promo images shows a screenshot of a dating profile with standard economic details framed as  ‘Likes and Interests”, “Dislikes and Turnoffs.” This kind of commitment to the bit would’ve been great to see in the rest of the writing on the microsite.

One of the digital ads for the Missouri Loves Company economic development campaign.
One of the digital ads for the campaign has some great examples of how the idea could be extended in the writing.

Stick with me, but let’s also reconsider the contact form. While “Message Missouri” is cute, what happens next after submission? Will a rep get in touch or try to schedule a call? It’s unclear, so adding more details under the heading could be helpful. How about including checkboxes for areas of interest under “Likes & Interests” or “What are you Into?” These could cover various economic topics like “Highly skilled talent,” “Low business costs,” and “Perfect Strategic Location” from the Missouri Partnership website. They don’t have to be mandatory, but they’d signal to the Missouri rep what aspects the visitor is keen to learn about.

The dating app Bumble’s CTA invites users to “Make the first move!”
Dating app Bumble’s CTA invites users to “Make the first move!”

2. The Content Strategy: Put Your Best Content Forward

For any landing page or website, the top area (sometimes referred to as the Hero area) of the homepage is prime real estate. Right now it’s being under-utilized with a decorative image collage of various thumbnails. Presumably, these are images related to Missouri, but it’s unclear right now.  Instead, I’d recommend featuring more engaging and useful content like a promo for one of the Love Stories. Ideally, there would be a Hero image accompanying each case study that underscored the idea of match-making. Like two puzzle pieces fitting together; one showing an identifiable aspect of Missouri and the other showing the company in question. 

Two hands holding puzzle pieces together.
Puzzle pieces were just one visual idea that came to mind, but I’m sure there are other visual metaphors you could use.

Featuring successful matches front and center would not only reinforce the concept of the campaign, but it would also immediately answer a key question in the minds of site selectors or anyone looking to move their company to Missouri, “What makes Missouri different?” You could even add “Likes and Interests” tags to each case study promo as a way of adding some skimmable content and drawing focus to those economic benefits.

Hinge’s hero area features a single image of a happy couple.
Hinge’s hero area features a single image of a happy couple, visually reinforcing the value they’re bringing to the visitor.

Another component missing in this top area is a call to action. If you want to capture leads then something like a “Find out if We’re a Match!” button that sends prospects to a contact form would work. Even better, would be to offer something up in exchange for their email address; maybe a well-designed PDF of Missouri’s economic benefits styled and written to resemble a dating profile.

eharmony's Homepage features a prominent call-to-action.
Most dating apps, like this eHarmony example, feature a prominent call to action as the first thing you can do in the Hero area.

The “Fall in love with Missouri!” section lower down could use some love as well. (#see-what-I-did-there?) Right now it only has three stats touting Missouri’s business costs, new investments, and apprenticeships. Why only three? This isn’t because there’s a lack of data to brag about. The main Missouri economic development site has several pages of content under the heading “Why Missouri?” I think they should mine those pages for more features to boast about like their Missouri One Start program making community college free for adults, or the fact that they have a better tax climate than all surrounding states, just to name a few.

The "Fall in love with Missouri" section of their economic development microsite.
The “Fall in Love” section only showing 3 data points is another missed opportunity.

3. The Interaction Design: Give them Something Relevant to Do 

I’m not going to come down too hard on them for this, as interactivity takes more time, effort, and resources to build into a microsite. So without knowing their budget for this part of the campaign, I can understand why interactive tools got put lower on the requirements list.

That being said, another missed opportunity is that there isn’t much to do on the microsite other than read. The catchy headings make the content more enticing to read, but once you’ve read one Love Story the novelty wears off a bit.

So what about a quick quiz to ‘Find Out if You’re a Match’’ in Missouri? The visitor could select their desired profile details based on their business interests, either by checking checkboxes or swiping left and right. Then the quiz outputs a “You’re a Match!” message with a list of the relevant offerings.

On its own, the quiz could be a creative way of showcasing Missouri’s economic benefits, but could also capture leads by asking those who finish the quiz to “Find out more about Your Match.” This could potentially help the follow-up team, as anyone motivated enough to finish the quiz has already signaled that they’re a more qualified lead than someone who just skimmed the content.

To Wrap Up

The Missouri Loves Company microsite is a great example of how a creative idea can make standard economic data seem fresh and engaging. The idea of comparing the work the Missouri Partnership does to match-making is a genius move. While we can’t use the same idea, because they’ve already done it, we can learn from how they implemented it on their microsite and take those lessons into our own economic development marketing campaigns.

Those lessons are:

  • Lean into the idea – from the writing to the content in the microsite, go all the way with the metaphor.
  • Put the Best Content Forward – think of the microsite like you’re making a case and everything from the images, menu labels, and stats need to forward that case.
  • Give them something to do – prospects can read on your main economic development site. This microsite must justify its existence by offering some form of interactivity, ideally tied to the campaign’s concept.

We get how tough it is to stand out in economic development marketing. With over 39,000 local governments vying for attention, all promoting similar perks, it’s easy to blend in. So let’s applaud campaigns that dare to be different and see what we can learn from them.