A person walking on a fallen tree to represent a 10 Step Strategy to Market

Follow our 10 Step Strategy to Market your Rural Business

Marketing is much more than a logo and a leaflet and there are many definitions. As you will see from the image below marketing covers everything from your product (or service) right through to your processes and physical environment. Our 10 step strategy to market your rural business assumes that you are already working on most of these elements and are now focusing your time on how to promote your business.

So where do we start our 10 step strategy to market your rural business?

1. Know your why

We start by knowing you’re why. I’ve written about this before in I believe in supporting businesses. In his TED Talk Simon Sinek explained that most businesses know what they do, some know how they do what they do – most however don’t know why they do what they do. Simon stresses that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

Before you read any more, watch the shortened version of Simon’s TED Talk, it will be 5 minutes of your time well spent.

2. Write down your values

The second step in our 10 step strategy is to write down your core values. Values are the beliefs, philosophies, and principles that drive you and therefore your business. Your values impact the relationship you develop with your employees and your customers. In their blog Company Values: Definition, Importance and Examples, Smarp explains that having a set of specific and unique core values can be a highly competitive advantage.

They ask us to think about it: if we manage to build a relationship with our customers based on the values we share, we’re most likely going to strengthen this relationship because it is built on common beliefs and principles. 

3. Look externally

Step 3 of our 10 step strategy is to look externally. Have you heard of a PESTLE analysis before? If not, don’t worry as you are more than likely doing one sub-consciously. PESTLE stands for:

  • Political
  • Economic
  • Socio-cultural
  • Technology
  • Legal
  • Environment

The framework helps you to focus on what’s happening externally. This will alert you to what might affect your business in the future and how you can best respond. We know that we are facing economic uncertainty, The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported in April that we are facing the Worst Economic Downturn Since the Great Depression. Have you thought about how your business will respond? What other threats and opportunities are on the horizon?

4. Know your strengths (and weaknesses)

The fourth step in our 10 step strategy is to know how well you function as a business. I’m sure you’ve heard of a SWOT analysis before and more than likely been made to do one within a 10-minute time limit (which is impossible right?!). The idea is to begin to understand your business strengths and weaknesses so you can be prepared to take advantage of the opportunities looming (in that external environment) and minimise weaknesses to head off those treats. If you can, write them down.

5. Who are your ideal customers?

Unless you are Coca Cola you cannot sell your product or service to everyone – fact. I bet you’ve already got some idea of who your ideal customers are – if you’re anything like me it’s in my head and I really need to get them down on paper. You may have heard about customer or buyer personas? These are visual, semi-fictional representatives of your ideal customers based on data and research. Good buyer personas help you focus your marketing communications and thus saves you time.

Check out HubSpot’s How to Create Detailed Buyer Personas for Your Business (which includes a free persona template).

We’re now halfway through our 10 step strategy to market your rural business – you still with me?!

6. Know the customer journey

I love the image above which visually represents the customer journey. It breaks down the stages your ideal customers may be at and therefore the different types of information they might need. Knowing your ideal customers and where they are on their customer journey is key to the next few steps of our 10 step strategy to market your rural business.

7. Set your SMART goal

Now we know our why, core values, what’s going on externally, our strengths and weaknesses, our ideal customer and customer journey we need to set a SMART goal. SMART stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measureable
  • Achieveable
  • Relevant
  • Timely

So step 7 of our 10 step strategy is to write your SMART goal down and send it to someone to hold you to account. I suggest your goal should be within the next 6 months to really make you focus. If you are a member of Rural Business Network, send it to me jo@rbn.org.uk and I will check in with you in 3 months’ time to see how you are getting on.

8. Break it down

Now you’ve got your SMART goal, the next step in our 10 step strategy is to break your goal down into smaller chunks, to help you get from A to B. Many people call these objectives and like your goal, they should be SMART.

9. Decide on tactics

It’s only now, at step 9 of our 10 step strategy to market your rural business that you should decide what tactics to use to promote your business. Tactics can be anything from writing a letter (yes, old school is coming back!) to which social media platform you should prioritise. There’s no point spending time on twitter if your ideal customers are not there. Whatever you do though, aim to be consistent and make sure you drive your new and existing customers to your website.

10. Review – everything!

Review, review, review! How do you know if something is working or not working? Review your tactics regularly and if something is not working as you’d hoped, try something else. Review your objectives, your goal, your customer journey and your ideal customers – make it a habit as it’s the only way we can improve.

That’s the end of our 10 step strategy to market your rural business, I hope you’ve found it useful and a good starting point. I covered all of these steps in a recent event Marketing Basics and gave my own SMART goal, objectives and tactics that I’m currently working on. To be given access to the event recording join our community.

Social Media Marketing

When Facebook was created in a dorm room in Harvard in 2004, it was a closed network, but when the network became open in 2006, the idea of social media marketing exploded. Social media marketing is now one of the most popular, and most important presences your business can have, as it presents the here and now of the company with regular updates. (Ankeny, 2011) states there are some positive and negative sides to social media marketing.

Positives of Social Media Marketing

  1. Increased Brand Awareness
    • Creating a social media marketing plan will greatly increase brand recognition as you will be connecting with a wide audience. By gettiing people to interact with your content you will increase brand awareness and begin building your reputation as a business. Every post that is shared will lead to a new network of individuals, which could mean them becoming potential customers, and the more people who know about your business, the better.
  2. More Traffic
    • The people already familiar with your brand are likely to search the internet with the same words you already rank with, therefore by using social media as part as your business marketing strategy you will increase the traffic to and from your website. This could be done by sharing events you have created, or by marketing the events you will be attending, or showing where a consumer can buy your products.
  3. Better Search Engine Ranking
    • When trying to reach a strong level of search engine optimisation you should keep your social media marketing focused on content such as blogs, case studies, business information, and employee photos. This will make your business’s social media profile intriguing as well as credible. When you establish quality content, you’ll begin to build a social media community where followers will confidently “like” and “share” your content. 
  4. Better Customer Satisfaction
    • With social media being mainly focused on communication and networking, this allows your company to create a more personal presence with your consumers. Content can be lighthearted, eye catching and interactive, giving your business the chance to make connections with customers.
  5. Cost Effective
    • One of the most important factors when it comes to marketing, is the cost element. This is where social media wins! Creating an account and profile is free for most social networking platforms, and if you chose to use paid promotions then you decide what you want to invest. The fact that is cost-effective means that almost all businesses will see a better return on any investment and be able to save more of a budget for additional marketing and business expenses.

Drawbacks of Social Media Marketing

  1. It was not created for Business
    • One of the most simple drawbacks is that social media platforms were not created for business use, they were created to socialise and sometimes the buying intent just is not there.
  2. Negative comments
    • Being on social media you expose yourself, and your business to a wide audience, which can be really good for business. However if a negative reaction is broadcasted about your content, this can has the opposite effect and actually cause more harm to your businesses presence. Therefore is is important to plan your content well.
  3. Time consuming
    • Even though the costs of social media are lower than other marketing strategies, time is not free and some platforms can be very time consuming as there is a need to stay connected. In order to keep your audience engaged content needs to be regular, fresh and interesting.
  4. Target Audience
    • Even though social media is becoming a very popular form of marketing throughout the generations, it is important at this stage to understand your targer audience. If you audience are not likely to be on social media, then advertising and marketing on social platforms is going to be limiting.

To find out more about Social Media Marketing have a look at our free upcoming event on the 19th of August that will focus on the use of Instagram as a marketing platform, this will be run by our Marketing & Events Assistant Grace Gibbs. Following this event on Wednesday the 1st of September we will have Karin Hayhow joining us from Mackie’s of Scotland to talk about their story so far. In order to attend this event, join our community.

Ankeny, J. (2011) How small businesses are marketing through Social Media. Entrepreneur Europe. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/219643