3 Ways “Cultural Fragmentation” Helps Rural Business

by Joanne Steele on January 25, 2011

The Internet Is Not a Giant BillboardYesterday National Public Radio’s evening news program had a segment called “Cultural Common Ground Getting Harder To Come By.”

It was a several minute look at how particularly American culture is fracturing into a zillion little interest groups that are giving the music industry, big corporations and television heartburn.

Cultural fragmentation should have locally owned and small rural business jumping for joy!

Here’s why:

1. Our customers are grouping themselves and discovering ways to talk to each other and ignore everybody else.

If you are very clear about who your customer is, it’s easier to find them than ever before. They are grouping themselves by age, race and gender, but that’s old demographic stuff.

They’re also now able to group themselves according to common interests, common concerns, and common desires. That’s the level we rural business owners are able to work at, because we interact so intimately and personally with our customers.

ACTION: Take a moment and write down some interests, concerns and desires you’ve learned recently about ONE of your customers.

Take another actual customer and note what interests, concerns and desires the two customers have in common. Take another and another. Add some demographic information, because that matters too, and you have a profile of your Perfect Customer.

2. Our self-selected groups of customers are talking to each other on free, easily accessible social media channels on the internet.

That means they’re reachable, for free.

The first mistake rural business makes is to treat social media such as Facebook and Twitter like a print advertisement, ie, create it and forget it.

ACTION:  LISTEN. Join the social media site you think your Perfect Customer is using.

Use what you know about your Perfect Customer to search for him or her. Not a person, but some of those self-selected groups that people with common interests and concerns are creating online.

It used to be like searching for a needle in a haystack. Now, you’re looking for the whole pin cushion!

3. Small business owners like you can build a base of loyal followers who will likely become loyal customers by talking and sharing about what you know and love.

Once you’ve listened, and discovered something about where your customers are hanging out online and what they’re talking about, it’s time to share your knowledge and expertise.

Social media is not about advertising. It’s about giving information away freely, and building a loyal base of followers Those followers will become your customers.

ACTION: Use groups on Facebook or Zorpia and the discussions using hashtags on Twitter to add useful information.

Talk about what you do and love best, to people who are waiting to hear from an expert like you. Follow or friend the people you meet in these groups. Build relationships.

Then, set up your Facebook Business Page and invite everyone to “Like” you. Continue to participate in those groups as well as adding useful content with links to your website. It’s infectious once you’ve started. And, with your own business page along with the following you’ve created, the viral marketing you crave will begin to happen.

It takes time, but so does any form of quality marketing. The difference is THIS type of online marketing favors you, the little guy.

Here are some past posts with some details on these subjects:

Social Media for Rural Business: Do It Right or Don’t Do It!

Small Town Tourism Marketing: What Wild Elephants Can Teach Us

Rural Tourism Marketing Secret: Step Into the Mind Of Your Customer

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