In this week’s blog, Andy Venables from Hillsgreen Marketing Consultants gets to the heart of what Marketing is, and why it is an essential tool for even the smallest businesses.
One of the best things about being nominated for a Rural Business Award is the attention it brings to your business.
You know you do great work, so it’s always nice to be recognised for what you do by someone else.
It’s great to get your name out there, to talk about what you do and how you help others in the rural economy – whether that’s supporting other businesses or those that just live and breathe the rural way of life.
But if it’s so good to have your business noticed and to be sharing what you do, then why don’t you do it all the time?
Why don’t you show-off and shout about what you do, how you do it – and why you do it?
Why don’t you show potential customers – and those outside of the traditional rural sector – how you can help them?
Explore, diversify – then make sure you tell people about it!
Don’t worry – you’re not alone. There are so many businesses in the rural sector, many of them nominees or previous winners of the RBA’s, who have been in the same position as you.
They go through all the hard work, the graft, that often accompanies a new rural business or the growth of an existing one:
• They put the time and effort into researching the market.
• They explore potential opportunities to help them fill business gaps
• They identify exciting ways to grow their business
• They diversify from their current rural practice to try something new
And they’re successful, with a good base of customers.
But they forget (or are afraid) to shout about their success.
For whatever reason, they just keep their heads down, working hard, helping customers and making money.
Which all well and good, and it’s important you do that to keep your business going. But you could make things a lot easier for yourself.
You could reach out to a wider audience and bring in more customers.
You could grow your business to new levels.
You could be even more successful – without doing much.
All you have to do is TELL others about what you do. You just have to market yourself.
Marketing is an opportunity, not a cost
But all that marketing stuff always sound expensive, right?
Well it doesn’t have to be. It shouldn’t break the bank. It shouldn’t be something you think you have to do.
It should be something you want to do.
Because marketing is an opportunity not a cost.
Marketing – when done correctly – is a way for you to:
• Show a wider audience what you do – and why you’re so good at it
• Get in front of potential new customers and be able to help them
• Attract more people to your website
• Position yourself as experts in your field
• Make more sales – without having to worry.
You do have to spend some money, of course – but you’re putting that money in an opportunity that should see you make it back – and a whole lot more of it too.
Take Heaton House Farm for example
Heaton House Farm is another finalist in this year’s Rural Business Awards. They were a traditional farm for several generations, and then at a charity event one year, they were asked if they could host a wedding for a young couple.
They did, and it was a success. A year later, they held a few more weddings. And the wedding-on-a-farm business grew from there.
It kept growing by word of mouth, and Heaton House Farm could have left things like that.
But they knew there were many more couples around the North West who dreamed of a barn wedding or getting married on a farm. And they wanted to help them. They were also aware of other barns starting to do the same and knew that couples would be shopping around.
They needed to make sure their business was noticed. They needed to shout about Heaton House Farm. So they did. They invested in marketing, as an opportunity to:
• Reach a wider audience – in Manchester, Cheshire and beyond – with paid advertising
• Showcase what their farm could offer – with a brand new, incredibly stunning website
• Help couples plan their perfect wedding and make the right decisions – with informative articles and advice
• Attract the right types of couples, who wanted what they offered – with high quality content
By focusing on marketing and shouting about what they do, Heaton House Farm were able to grow their wedding business to incredible heights – because lots of people knew about them (and more were finding out all the time).
It doesn’t need to be complicated, it just needs to be done.
For a lot of small rural businesses, the term ‘marketing’ is a little bit scary. When they hear it, all they think about is city slickers and corporate execs, or big city ‘marketing agencies’ throwing around lots of jargon and talking about ideas or tactics so you don’t have a clue what they mean.
It all seems very confusing. And it seems easier to stick with what you know, and what you do well.
But marketing doesn’t have to be complicated. It shouldn’t be.
It should just do what works for your business.
It can start small and grow as you do.
The important thing is just doing something.
You do lots of hard work already. A bit of marketing should be the easy part.
So don’t be afraid to shout about what you do. Tell others how you can help them.
Andy Venables is the Managing Director of Hillsgreen Marketing Consultants, a business passionate helping other rural businesses market themselves and achieve success. You can find out more about them by heading to: www.hillsgreen.co.uk
To learn about Heaton House Farm, follow this link: www.heatonhousefarm.co.uk