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Learn Marketing (and create work) from Rural Development
Tips on how to market small business from – of all places – small towns
Linda reaches into the hinterlands to find tips on how to market small business from – of all places – small towns.
Putting It All Together
Take a look at this sample brochure [PDF] for marketing a rural area. If you live in a rural area (or a small town next to an urban area – now called an "edge" community), take stock of what you have available to you. You might be surprised. Even urbanites can play this game – pick a suburb near you and begin to learn more about that suburb.
When you fill out the blanks in this form, you may realize that you have markets that you haven't tapped for your design and development skills. Which natural attractions need your help in setting up a Facebook Fan Page? Which man-made attractions might need help in developing a blog or an app to pull in business and tourist dollars? What festivals and events can you tap into to sell your designs or computer skills?
The point behind all this is to realize that rural marketing is taking first steps into turning a poor economy into a life-saving strategy. You can be part of that revolution by tuning your mindset to "rural" rather than to "urban."
I applied for a job in an "edge" community recently and was offered the position. One reason I got the job, I'm sure, is that I did my homework. I researched the group that offered the job, I researched the area and what that area had to offer. I also was the only person who offered papers at both interviews – papers that talked about a specific project and how it could help that community grow economically.
The project wasn't my idea...in fact, the community already had that project in motion. But, nothing had been done to keep the project alive, including surveys to determine if the project really worked. I didn't reinvent the wheel, in other words – all I did was learn what had been used and expanded on how that project could move forward.
I thought the competition for this job would be stiff, as more than a dozen people applied for the position. But, from what I understand, not one applicant other than myself knew anything about the organization that they were applying to, nor did they offer solutions to an already-existing problem. While you may think that this was rather naïve on the part of the applicants, I've learned recently that many job applicants often don't conduct research on the businesses that they approach for jobs.
Be different! Be smart! If you're intrigued by rural marketing and you want to get in on this often sustainable, environmental and organic trend, then get to know the rural marketing movement. Understand that rural marketing might be limited by lack of Internet connection and lack of computer savvy. Also realize that many business owners in rural areas may be leery of strangers who want to market their businesses, or that many business owners may feel apathetic about marketing in this down economy.
Be the person who knows solutions. Study rural marketing sites and studies. Learn what these markets already know, and what they might need to learn. Offer free classes for local businesses on developing Facebook Fan pages or on how to get up to speed with a blog. Get involved with the local tourism committee or local rural development organization and go to meetings.
While all of this "knowing" might take some work, you may realize what a market you're about to tap. You may, if you know what you are doing, end up being the "go-to person" for your local rural development market. Once you've opened the door to this opportunity, you may begin to understand why customer loyalty is so important...once you've become the person to tap for marketing knowledge or Internet interactions, why go elsewhere?
Just take a page from any one of the sites listed above (or the thousands of other sites devoted to "rural tourism" or "rural marketing") to learn the tricks and tools that can make your own rural marketing a success. Just think like a small town, learn where you live, and you might open doors to new markets for your skills.
Linda Goin carries an A.A. in graphic design, a B.F.A. in visual communications with a minor in business and marketing and an M.A. in American History with a minor in the Reformation. While the latter degree doesn't seem to fit with the first two educational experiences, Linda used her 25-year design expertise on archaeological digs and in the study of material culture. Now she uses her education and experiences in social media experiments.
Accolades for her work include fifteen first-place Colorado Press Association awards, numerous fine art and graphic design awards, and interviews about content development with The Wall St. Journal, Chicago Tribune, Psychology Today, and L.A. Times.
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