I regularly hear these words from small, rural business owners. How marketing was not something that took so much time and effort. They talk about putting an ad in the paper and they were done for the week.
Marketing was advertising and it was done in the local paper, on the local radio and, if you had one, the local television station. Some would do a flyer and a few might even do a brochure.
Today, as you well know, all of this has changed. On average, small-business owners are using 5.8 channels, or tools, to do their marketing. This has more than doubled in less than 10 years.
And marketing is more than just advertising today. Included today are items such as branding, service, and engagement. People want online access and mobile access. They want to be social, entertained, educated and engaged.
Yet, as I discuss these ideas with rural business owners, the stories I hear often show a picture where the marketing changes have been quite often more use of traditional media, still effective but losing some of its luster as the consumer base changes. When online marketing is mentioned, quite often it comes from a static webpage and a social media page with postings every month or every quarter.
Today much of the market requires something more. The competition is reaching out more and more. Not only do rural residents drive to larger communities, but many of the big stores are offering online shopping with free delivery. That’s a challenge.
It’s a challenge but it is not insurmountable. Being a local business gives you an initial advantage. Ask your key customers what they would like from your business in terms of service and marketing. Find ways to stay in touch with your customer base.
Marketing is not the same nor will it go back to what it was. Grab hold of the opportunity that marketing brings.
- About the Author
- Latest by this Author
Glenn Muske is an independent expert on rural small business, working as GM Consulting – Your partner in achieving small business success. He provides consulting, and writes articles for county extension agents and newspapers across North Dakota. Previously, he was the Rural and Agribusiness Enterprise Development Specialist at the North Dakota State University Extension Service – Center for Community Vitality.