Seeking to position Utah as a technology hub, Gov. Michael O. Leavitt this week begins a personal e-mail campaign targeting Silicon Valley companies.
About 1,000 CEOs and senior executives at corporations such as Adobe Systems, Network Associates, Pixar, Fujitsu, Rational Software, Informatica and Xilinx can expect Leavitt’s message in their inbox.
“The big push is going to be, ‘We are ready and wired for your company to expand here. If you’ve reached your limit in California in a lot of areas, consider here,’ ” said Deborah Lindner, communications director of the Utah Department of Community and Economic Development, Salt Lake City.
Part of a $750,000 branding campaign by Euro RSCG DSW Partners, Salt Lake City, the e-mails are supported by advertising, public relations, collateral, direct mail, exhibits and the utah.org Web site, which will be redesigned.
The hard sell is simple. Utah claims to offer a tech-savvy work force, a positive lifestyle and a pro-business environment that has 2,500 tech companies. To underscore the tech-savvy attitude, e-mails and supporting marketing communications also will direct traffic to utah.org/silicon, an area created for the Utah Silicon Valley Alliance.
Plans call for e-mail drops of 1,000 monthly through the Salt Lake City Olympics in February and beyond. Names will be drawn from a list compiled by Euro RSCG DSW for its new business efforts. The governor will host many senior tech executives at the Olympics.
But much rests on the response to the maiden e-mail push. Expectations are high.
“We’re hoping to get 150 responses” to this week’s drop, said Brett Tippetts, account director at Euro RSCG DSW, implying a 15 percent conversion rate on a push of 1,000 e-mails.
The e-mail calls attention to the larger issue of a lack of awareness of Utah itself.
“I think it’s going to address some perceptions of Utah,” Lindner said. “The perception that a lot of people have [indicates that] they don’t know anything about Utah.”
And what perceptions most people have revolve around stereotypes: Mormons and Utah’s rugged national parks. The larger branding effort by Euro RSCG DSW aims to update that.
“So we want to just plant some seeds in their minds and start thinking about us in a different way, or in a way they haven’t thought about us,” Tippetts said.
Utah’s campaign, however, does not seek to yank business outright from California. The focus is on luring research and development work.
“We’re already well-known for software development,” Lindner said. “We want companies to retain their headquarters in Silicon Valley but build out in Utah.”
Another selling point, highlighted in the e-mail, is Utah’s proximity to Silicon Valley.
“Gov. Leavitt likes to say that you can get on a plane and fly to Silicon Valley faster than you can drive across the Valley,” Lindner said. “That is an advantage we have that really no other state that’s vying for this has.”
The pre-e-mail persuasion seems to be working.
“Intel opened a research and development center after saying they would not expand anymore in Silicon Valley,” Lindner said.
Competition for tech business is intense. Salt Lake City competes with rivals such as Austin, TX, and Research Triangle Park, NC.
When tech companies make decisions, they move fast.
“EBay [based in San Jose, CA] was in here on a Tuesday,” Lindner said, “and looked at some expansion. And on the following Thursday they made their decision. We know how to get business done and get it done quickly, and we understand their needs.”