1. The best promotion you can get is the personal recommendation of someone who has been to your town or attraction.
2. And yet… locals will live here for years, and never set foot in some of the most amazing attractions and events you have to offer. But once they do, they are some of the best evangelists.
This, “I’ve lived here for years, and I’ve never been there,” attitude is surprisingly common.
- In New York, I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge with a Chaz, who lives there, but had never been.
- At home, I had never seen the archaeology find of the century in the Freedom, Oklahoma, Museum, until they called me for some consulting.
We just don’t go see what we have close by.
What if you could get more of your locals to actually experience your treasures? Then they would be much more likely to talk them up to their friends and family.
How could you actually do this?
- Promote your event directly to locals by word of mouth, personal contact, phone calls, emails, etc. Make sure you dedicate a specific portion of your promotion efforts and budget to bring in locals.
- How about your nearby neighbors? Bring in the people from one town over, or all the surrounding towns. They’ll have less of that famous “we don’t have anything” local bias.
- Create a special tour for locals. Make it like a blogger invasion, but for your locals and neighbors.
- Host regional events. Partner with groups, like the Rotary or church groups, who are bringing folks from surrounding counties. Do more than give them a brochure; help them set up an event at a cool local attraction.
I know this is tough. Lots of towns have trouble getting locals involved in anything. So let’s open it up. The best stuff is always in the comments. What are your ideas and stories?
This article is part of Tourism Tuesday, a series of posts for tourism businesses and associations in small towns and rural areas. If you have questions you’d like us to address in this series, leave a comment or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. This is a community project!
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Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband have a small cattle ranch and are lifelong entrepreneurs. Becky is an international speaker on small business and rural topics.