There is something special about small town life. Just ask John Cougar Mellencamp: he made a career off of writing songs about the subject. Beyond charm, small towns are becoming more and more popular as weekend destinations, especially for people looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.
Each town in America has its own appeal. For city leaders, tapping into that uniqueness can drive customers to your local businesses and even turn your sleepy little town into a weekender bucket list stop.
Having a clear inventory of your community’s assets will get you started on the right foot, but marketing your community will help you kick it up a notch. The Your Business Marketer team has been aiding small Ohio communities since our founding, and we want your community to thrive. With our team on your side, you will be more Jack and Diane than Authority Song.
Determine Your Audience
Like any good marketing strategy, understanding and meeting your audience on the platforms they use is critical to getting your community’s name out there. If no one knows that you have the best pizza east of the Mississippi, no one will come eat it (although some New Yorkers might have a word or two to say about it).
Unlock the Power of the Weekender
Without a large number of attractions in your area, it will be difficult to hold people for days on end. But those charming shops and restaurants are a perfect getaway for weekenders. Rural tourism is a growing segment, thanks to the younger generation looking for ways to connect with their roots as well as the next great location for an Instagram selfie.
Tourists bring dollars and are generally willing to spend more than locals. More money spent means more revenue for the city for municipal improvements. The cyclical nature is amazing to watch. Once in motion, even modest paid ad dollars or social media campaigns can result in new weekend tourism traffic that transforms the budget of a small town.
Market the Right Way
Once you have a grasp on who your target customers are, getting the pieces in place to promote your town should be the next step. Tools like Facebook and other social media platforms allow you to easily drill down into demographic data. Once you have that data, you can pinpoint the people who are most likely to visit your community.
If your town is an antique collectors’ playground, using demographic data can help you target baby boomers with more disposable income. Or, perhaps just outside your town lies a pristine river that is teeming with trout. Find the anglers who are willing to travel and stay for a short fishing expedition.
Additionally, if you are constantly battling with neighboring towns for the attention of tourists, set up geofences around the businesses, so that your community’s assets are highlighted. Many people will happily drive an additional 20 miles if the messaging is right.
Small Town Marketing: Focus on What’s Unique
Towns that are exploring new marketing for tourism must embrace what they are and leverage that value with consistency. The challenge that many communities face is successfully evaluating the town features that will draw in the most traffic and impact the bottom line. Here are 4 areas to examine during the planning phase.
1. The Great Outdoors: Wildlife Tourism and Ecotourism
COVID-19 has pushed more and more families into outdoor activities, if only to escape the confined spaces of our living rooms. Towns across the country are tapping into this urge to get outdoors and highlighting the natural attractions to help bolster other community businesses.
Do you have a state park near you? Maybe a popular hiking trail or lake? One of the biggest benefits to a small town is that visitors can stay in town and have easy access to all of the outdoor activities they desire without fighting traffic and driving for hours on end.
2. Get More People to Shop Local
The “shop local” movement is bigger than ever, and small businesses are taking advantage of those opportunities. Communities that have a small square of local shops or large farmers market each weekend have the opportunity to draw larger than average crowds.
Local artists are also able to showcase their wares and in turn help promote the greater community. The process perpetuates itself as these individuals push out content on social media and highlight customers and their reactions. All of these pieces play a role in the greater small city marketing strategy.
3. Advertise Local Eateries
If you haven’t already noticed, there is a profound push away from eating at chain restaurants. Traditionally, small towns are filled with mom and pop joints that are straight out of a Guy Fieri episode. These local favorites can become a foodie, Mecca even if your community is not Flavortown U.S.A.
Social media is a great avenue to spotlight local restaurants, especially those that are making meals from scratch. Devote resources to a promo video that can be shared on various channels, and use the targeting tools previously mentioned to whet peoples’ appetites.
4. Highlight History
Every town has its own unique history. Some might be richer than others, but every community celebrates founder’s day, or similar historical events. These local calendar events have the potential to boost revenue for vendors, especially attracting newcomers during leaner months when fewer people are visiting.
Small Town Marketing: Agency Help With a Personal Touch
More often than not, small towns have a wide variety of unique features that drive the rural tourism business in their area. Uncovering the hidden gems that will make your community a weekender destination is only the beginning. Those looking to unlock the full potential of their small town must also know how to market to a wider audience.
Whether you are looking for newer creative ways to build on your town’s tourism business or are just beginning to realize that you are missing out, the Your Business Marketer team is ready to lend a hand. We believe that every small town has something to offer and sometimes the only ingredient missing is an outside perspective. Connect with the YBM team to learn more about our marketing services.