2011 Trends Favor Small Towns and Locally Owned Businesses

by Joanne Steele on January 4, 2011


Everyone is looking forward to a better year in 2011.

Becky McCray’s post “2011 Trends Driving Rural Small Business” at Small Business Trends is an excellent overview of what’s possible this year for small towns and locally owned businesses.

fly tying

Fly tying and bird house building, two hands-on activities and Dunsmuir's annual Sacramento River Festival.

Positive trends are opportunities.

They signal things that are already gaining traction. The big old trend bus has already done the hard work of climbing up the hill and is starting to barrel down the other side! Jump on the “bus” and use all that trending energy to drive success for your small town and your business!

The huge LOCAL trend is all about small towns!

You know it’s important when big business is co-opting it. But they have to retool to capture the look and feel of “local.” On the other hand, it’s who and what we are!

Taking advantage of this interest in “Local” is a marketing issue for rural towns and locally owned businesses. By nature we ARE local and unique.

Using internet marketing tools to communicate about ourselves to the people who are looking for what we have to offer is the way to jump on this trend.

It’s about communicating in a completely different way, focusing on our customers rather than on our products and services.

Becky makes this transition from “us” to “our customers” easy to understand in her post “Progression of engagement” at Small Biz Survival.

In a past post, “Small Town Tourism Marketing: What Wild Elephants Can Teach Us”, I talk about how internet technology has revolutionized marketing. We no longer have to pay for advertising we hope someone will see and act on. We now can talk directly to the people who are already looking for what we have to offer.

Back to Becky’s trends:

Local Travel: Meaningful tourism is more engaging.

As you plan your town and even your business’s events for this year, take advantage of this trend and incorporate some DOING.

Offerings like, join the parade, try out fly-tying, sidewalk art, and other “try this” activities, can add memorable authentic experiences to any event.

Mobile = Local: Connecting is good for business.

In the next few years, mobile technology will replace home computers as the primary way people get information to make buying decisions.

“An Internet Marketing Checklist For Rural Tourism Business Owners” will give you a list of places your customers are using. Since that post, a whole crop of new places are gaining users. Ask your customers for other recommendations.

2011 trends favor small towns and locally owned businesses. It’s up to us to take advantage of these opportunities.

How are you resolving to use these trends in 2011?

1 Herb Lawrence January 7, 2011 at 6:39 pm

Joanne great post along with Becky’s in Small Business Trends. Having 14 out of 15 counties in my service area I love sharing them with the small businesses and economic developers in our area of Arkansas

2 Becky McCray January 4, 2011 at 10:17 am

I *love* your “try this” examples! Those are exactly the kind of activities that can move an event along the scale of engagement. Terrific!

3 Joanne Steele January 4, 2011 at 11:48 am

Thanks Becky. It’s the small simple memorable things that make rural tourism so compelling isn’t it. I happened upon a church supper in Woodsville, New Hampshire a few years ago. It was one evening in a two week adventure, and that’s what I fondly remember years later.

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