Why Rural Communities Need Marketing Strategies.
Most people are likely aware of the fact that in order for any tourism market to thrive, it needs the magic head-turning power of marketing — and not just marketing, but good marketing — marketing that actively and effectively targets a town’s potential visitors and clearly communicates the unique experiences, storied history, rich culture, local creations and one-of-a-kind location they have to offer.
But have you ever considered the necessity of marketing to your existing and hopefully new visitor base? In order to both maintain current visitors and happy residents, as well as attract carefully selected new ones, the places people work, play, and live need marketing strategies too.
And it’s not just big cities, who can afford enormous budgets designed to increase tourism and economic vitality — and which likely already get their fair share of press coverage (ahem, Los Angeles, we’re looking at you, though we do like your ads…) — but small places too, usually even more so, need creative storytelling in order to manage their reputation and to make themselves heard over the din of so many other towns, both big and small, claiming themselves to be everything from an escape to paradise to the next best place to move and start a business.
However, just because you’re small doesn’t mean you can’t make your voice heard — or afford your own marketing strategy. No matter who you are, where you are, or how big you are, you have your own unique characteristics that set you apart from the rest, and there are people out there who will love your town as much as you do — they just need to hear about it! Moreover, there are many unique ways to market all the wonderful features your community has to offer — you just need a little innovation. For a great example of just such a campaign, watch this quirky and endearing ad from the quaint little town of Tschlin in the Alps of Switzerland.
What is equally important, however, is making sure go about this process in a way that is thoughtful, considerate, and thinks in long-term goals. Small, rural communities — just like the people and businesses that live in them — need marketing that is careful to protect the locals, their values, their heritage and the beauty that is why they live where they live! They need an agency that understands them and serve them in ways unique to who they are and their distinct set of challenges and strengths, something larger agencies aren’t always able to provide.
Working with Rural Communities
Mountain Mojo Group had the opportunity to dive into this world ourselves recently, when we partnered with the beautiful town of Camp Verde to develop a four year marketing plan for them. Together, we formulated a plan to help the community raise their profile and draw in new visitors while doing so in a way that is sustainable and beneficial for residents, making sure to preserve the things we all already love best about Camp Verde.
When Mountain Mojo works with a new client, whether it be a small business or a small town, we try to apply the same maxims that make our own fragile ecosystem, our own little micro-community, work so well — like events, activities, and structures that create a sense of collaboration, connection, and togetherness — such as our open-space floor plan, our collective brainstorm sessions, and our “family” lunches. It’s all about finding a balance between incentives that will draw new people in while maintaining the culture and history — along with all its rituals, traditions, and values — that made something great in the first place.
For example, the ‘Verde Grown’ campaign we developed helps to share the strong agricultural roots of Camp Verde and the showcase the delicious farm produce provided for Farm to Table outlets in the area, while other campaigns embrace the potential for agritourism to implement the ‘Farm Stay’ phenomenon, tell stories about the tribal communities that make up Camp Verde’s rich past, spotlight its status as a prime location for archeological discoveries, and emphasize the attractive and fertile valley and its exploding viticulture industry.
Again, it’s all about striking a balance and playing to Camp Verde’s strengths, as can be seen in our “Farm Stay” campaign, which has the potential to develop regional growing pride and while taking advantage of a fresh, up-and-coming tourism phenomenon that connects urban and suburban dwellers to the rural roots of where their food comes from, while benefiting the livelihood of the farmers, ranchers, and growers they’ll stay with in the process.
Another campaign that highlights Camp Verde’s strengths involves marketing its many possibilities for outdoor recreation, highlighting Camp Verde as a destination for all kinds of outdoor activities, including everything from stargazing to boating to horse-back riding. This campaign will encourage visitors to come enjoy natural beauty that Camp Verde has to offer, while also emphasizing the concepts of stewardship and environmentally responsible recreation.
The point is, even in a little town of approximately 11,000 people like Camp Verde, there’s likely still more than enough reasons that make your community a wonderful place to visit, work, and live. You just have to find them, and figure out how best to make sure everyone else knows, too. It’s that easy, and that hard.
Step one: Find out what makes you special.
Step two: Spread the word.
Step three: Find a way to make your new-found fame work for you and the people around you — without sacrificing what’s important to you as a community.
If you or someone you know works for a small town or a rural community that could use a refresh of their town’s brand and ideas on how to improve experiences of both locals and visitors via economic vitality, we encourage you to consider using a small marketing agency like MMG. To find out more about what we can do for you and the place you love, contact us at online or at 928-440-5301.