Internet Marketing SOS For Rural Tourism Business Owners

by Joanne Steele on June 24, 2011

What a spring!! Snow, winds, floods, tornadoes.Yahoo First Aid Kit

Now it’s the summer solstice and you’ve got two or three short months to make up for the crappy spring for small towns and rural tourism destinations.

You’re in a panic. What should you do?

When you’re new to internet marketing, you may have a tendency to get conservative when things get tough.

Resist the urge toss out everything about internet marketing that you’ve learned! Those paper brochures and expensive ads aren’t going to work any better in a crisis.

Take a deep breath and let’s go over the internet marketing basics that WILL help you get your business back on track.

1. It’s not about YOU, it’s about YOUR CUSTOMER.

Reread this past post: How to Target Your Perfect Customer Like Facebook

Now, refresh your memory about your Perfect Customer. You know him or her well, so update your thinking in light of the current situation.

What does he or she need right now to feel better about themselves and their current situation?

  • A discount?
  • More pampering?
  • A reminder that what you offer will bring them closer as a family?
  • A break from all the stress?
  • Some fun?
  • Some help learning something new?

Does your website speak to these needs right on your homepage? With pictures?

Do your Facebook posts address them with mini-stories, or a picture or a video?

2. Are you making that all-important connection with Google, your internet marketing partner, who incidentally rules the world?

Those of you who took my spring trainings remember that I talked about two conversations you have to have on every page of your website, one with Google (so they will send you traffic) and one with your Perfect Customer, so they will book or buy.

Techs call “talking to Google,” SEO. It’s giving Google the signal that what you are talking about on your website is a match for what your customer is searching for.

Here is a past post to help you make certain your website is properly talking to Google: What the Heck are Keywords and Why Should a Small Business Owner Care?

3. Are you connecting with your past customer via your email marketing list?

It is infinitely more easy to encourage repeat business from one of your loyal customers than to try to capture a new one.

Here is where your email marketing list comes in. These are people who have asked to stay in touch. Use it to share new info about your business, new offers and stories.

Use it to ask them to help you reach their friends – that rock solid marketing technique, word of mouth.

Here is a past post to help you put together newsletters that will be welcomed by your loyal customers:  Write Effective Email Marketing Newsletters Your Customers Can’t Wait to Open.

4. Are you making connections with other rural tourism businesses in your area?

It’s time to connect with other businesses in your area and to help each other.

Here is a past post that has relevance for the summer this year:  Marketing First Aid: 6 Things To Do When September Tourism Business Drops Off a Cliff

If you’re having trouble, it’s likely that everyone in town is too. By cross marketing, you’ll reach more people and give everyone a better chance at turning this season around.

Just remember that internationally, tourism is a $1.5 trillion dollar industry!! People are still taking vacations!

Get your internet marketing in shipshape and grab your share of that pie!

Photo on Flickr by Matthew Rothenburg

1 Kim Phillips November 6, 2011 at 7:59 am

Thank you for saying to small business owners, “it’s not about you.” Probably the #1 mistake I see owners make is not answering the customers question, “what’s in it for me?” Small business owners tend to think that whatever they are selling is so great that people will just naturally flock to it, and they resent having to do any sort of “advertising.” You’ve seen the websites where every sentence begins with “we” or “our” instead of “you” and “your.” Or the Facebook posts that say, “We need to hit 500 fans…help us!” like it’s the customer’s goal in life to make that business a success. More at

2 Joanne Steele November 8, 2011 at 8:35 am

The Perfect Customer for that business and product WILL flock to buy. The real problem is that small business owners think that increasing sales means spraying advertising randomly to more people rather that doing focused, targeted marketing to the people who will “naturally flock.” This is finally possible with the internet, and it’s people like us, Kim, who need to help small business owners learn how to do it.

3 Brittany at Sprout Social July 13, 2011 at 11:21 am

Great introduction to online marketing for rural businesses! In my opinion, your website and internet marketing strategy are probably even more important when times are tough. It’ll help direct more traffic to your site, which will in turn hopefully lead to sales. If you use keywords and SEO practices, you’ll have more qualified leads who are already interested in your business but just haven’t heard of you yet!

4 Joanne Steele July 15, 2011 at 12:03 pm

Thanks Brittany! Sprout Social looks like something I need to learn more about for a future post. It might help the rural small business owners I serve, who just don’t have enough hours in a day to do everything that needs to be done.

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