Marketing to someone who lives in a rural area is a lot different than marketing to someone living in even a small community, much less a major metropolis. You’ve got to focus on different needs because there are specific cultural differences in the rural population. For one, there are different income levels of patterns of income. There are also different literacy levels, different infrastructures, and even a variation in the culture itself.
Any rural marketing strategy, however, has a quality product or service at its very foundation. Without providing people with something that has value, you won’t be able to be in business for very long. What problems can your goods or services solve? In what way will having a relationship with your business benefit them today, tomorrow, or 5 years from now? Those are the questions that must be answered in order to begin using these rural marketing strategies.
Rural Marketing Strategies that Work
1. The Internet Is Still the Boss
Although high speed internet is uncommon in rural areas, there is still a good blanket of internet connectivity that can be had. You must realize, however, that the average rural consumer isn’t going to be able to watch a 5 minute video in HD because they might have 1.5 Mbps DSL at best – and they might still be on dial-up. Use text-based marketing, email marketing campaigns, and simple website designs to make accessing your information a lot easier.
2. You’ve Got to Go Local
Most businesses aren’t going to benefit from using the phone book for their advertising needs, but you can find success with a rural focus in mind. Because internet access is limited in many rural areas, there is still a reliance on the yellow pages to get information out about a business. Make sure you’ve got a listing that makes sense, that you’re under a heading that is logical for your business, and you’ll get yourself into thousands of rural homes in a targeted area.
3. Use Smart Signs
Rural areas are the perfect location for a sign that tells people about what your business can do. It’s not like a metropolitan area where there’s one or two seconds at most for brand recognition. There are several seconds of brand exposure to a rural sign. Just look at the example of the Wall Drug Store in South Dakota as an example. Much of their advertising is based on smart sign usage that develops interest for over a hundred miles before a traveler reaches the business. By the time they get there, people want to see what’s going on.
4. Get Optimized
Rural marketing must include geo-tagging so that you can have specific niche customers in specific areas be able to find your business. Being invisible is almost always the greatest challenge that must be overcome. By having local searches find your business for people who need what you’ve got, you’ll be able to take off your invisibility cloak for good.
5. Don’t Forget to Print
Print advertising can be a very effective medium for marketing in limited rural communities. Neighbors talk with each other and a good campaign will have everyone talking about you, especially if your print campaign is unique or provides some sort of value, like a product sample. It’s less time intensive to use a direct mail campaign, but even door-to-door flyers can be enough to suit your business if you don’t mind the sweat equity investment.
6. Know the Access
Rural communities have limited media access in a variety of ways that go beyond internet access. Radio signals may be limited because of the structure of the rural landscape. TV reception might be non-existent. It might only be available through satellite access. Does it make sense to pay for radio advertising when most of your potential clients don’t own a radio because they can’t get a signal? Of course not. You won’t know this, however, until you know what their access happens to be.
7. Loyalty Is King
Rural customers are often very slow to adapt to changes in products or brands. They’re also extremely reluctant to give up a brand once they’ve developed a relationship with it. Just look at the case of the mechanical reaper. For 10 years, this invention that could increase productivity by up to 10 times languished in obscurity because no one wanted to change from the tried and true method. What does this mean? You can have an incredibly valuable product and even demonstrate it and still not get results. Keep plugging away though. You’ll get there.
8. Find the Income
For many rural customers, their income is seasonal rather than throughout the year. This means you have a limited window where most value items can be sold and this is generally after a harvest period. Focus your marketing during this time to see the best results because this is often the only time a rural household will have an discretionary spending.
9. Entertainment Works
There is a lot of need for information in a rural community, but there is an even greater need for entertainment. The best marketing strategies will include both aspects to be the most memorable, but it must be done in a way that will reach the most people. That might mean creating a radio drama, having a low memory internet campaign, or reaching out to people over the airways of free broadcast TV. Even a public access show in a low internet usage area will be a better option than a PPC campaign would be.
10. It Takes Less Persuasion
The one advantage to rural marketing is that it takes less persuasion to make a sale. Information is at a premium and so all you’ve got to do is show how you can solve problems for these customers. That’s where the value happens to be and you won’t have to persuade them… unless you’re trying to encourage customers to do a job in a different way. Then you’ll struggle no matter what you do because people are resistant to change in rural communities.