Local Area Marketing, Regional Marketing or Rural Marketing – call it what you will but if you’re a city based business trying to market products in a rural community there are some things you need to look out for.
Country people are hard working, spend long hours out of the house, are loyal, don’t like change, help each other, face to face communication preferred and the ‘clincher’ – like to do business with people who support their community.
Being from the country I thought I knew it all when marketing products back to rural communities but my very first campaign as a young marketer quickly showed me the complexities of the challenge and the skills needed. In short, I was selling long range cordless phones to farmers and as a creative had a picture of a farmer talking on one of the phones while sitting on his tractor in a cane field. I had more complaints than sales simply because the tractor didn’t have roll bars and that was against safety regulations for farmers. The roll bars had been removed in the photo shoot to get a clearer photo of the farmer using the phone.
The point is that rural people will see through fake attempts to appear ‘rural’ or to ‘understand’ their situations. Sending creative executions with lots of green grass and blue sky may look great in the office but is a stab in the heart to a rural community that has been in drought for 7 years.
Some good ideas are to research each community, rural communities more often than not have a community group that knits the community together, rural fire fighters, Country women’s Association, Lions club or a local football team. It is a goo tactic to become a support of this network and if possible show a face at some events. Reciprocal selling arrangements, dealerships and sponsorships for units sold are all ways to create a profitable connection. Once a bridgehead has been established and the community leaders know what you business is about then roll in the campaigns – but research the creative execution first.
Sounds simple – no it’s not and that’s the mistake I most often see. You must treat rural communities with respect and acknowledge there is a specific set of skills needed to be successful.