Find a Need and Fill It

by Joanne Steele on August 22, 2012

I spend a lot of time thinking about and researching small town survival strategies. I read daily about branding strategies and marketing strategies and local business development strategies and rural development strategies.find a need and fill it

I’m most drawn to the ones that are practical, easy for small local businesses and rural communities to implement, and that follow one simple rule, “Find a need and fill it.”

What makes the “Find a need and fill it” rule so compelling? Because it starts with the customer, the only reasonable place for any business or town to begin a strategy.

Here’s the path to following the “find a need and fill it” strategy that any rural community or small local business can follow.

1. Realistically, determine how many customers your business or your town needs to succeed?

Everyone over estimates this number. Until you honestly determine this, the answer is too often something like, “More than we can ever get.” Or “Zillions!”

Realistically? Most rural communities would immediately feel the impact of a thousand or fewer more visitors a year, and most small local businesses need 100 or fewer more loyal, returning customers to notice the difference.

Notice the surge of energy you get from nailing this number down. You have something to work toward that you know will make a difference.

2. What are people within a 100 mile radius of your town looking for that you can provide? (Keep your local loyal customers in mind here too.)

Resist answering “nothing”. Read the past posts listed below to help.

Finding a need nowadays is different from when your small town was first born. Your town probably came into being to fill the concrete needs of farmers and ranchers and miners and loggers in the vicinity.

Now, bringing visitors and nearby shoppers to town isn’t about concrete needs. All those are being fulfilled by malls and box stores and internet shopping. The needs your business or town are probably fulfilling for nonresidents (and maybe residents too) are emotional, recreational, or comfort related.

If you focus on potential customers, you won’t fall into the trap of thinking that you have to build something new to succeed. You don’t. Potential customers are people who would come if they only knew what you have to offer!

3. Market what you have to those identified potential customers.

This is where many small towns and local small businesses still get bogged down. Because your internet capabilities may be limited (rural broadband is still lagging far behind urban capacity) you may still be worried about advertising budgets.

Remember that those potential customers you identified in #2 are already looking online for what you offer. They’re potential customers because they’re already interested!

Using internet marketing techniques, you attract those customers to you. Unclear about how to do that? You’re definitely not alone. The need for small local business owners and rural communities to master internet marketing to succeed is why I created the membership site,

The saying, “Find a need and fill it.” is attributed to Ruth Stafford Peale, wife of positive thinking guru, Norman Vincent Peale.  Mrs. Peale lived to 101, crediting her long happy life to this tenet.

May your rural community or small local business also have long success and prosperity by finding a need and filling it.

Check out these past posts for help in finding your customer’s need.

First Step to Rural Tourism Success: Check Your Innovation Mindset

Why “It’s a Wonderful Life” Nostalgia Can Save Small Towns

Rural Tourism is More Than Just Agritourism


Photo by Amanda Powell.


1 Michael Dumont August 25, 2012 at 5:44 am

I think this post provides great insight for small communities. Rather than reinventing the wheel it is much easier to celebrate who you are as an ongoing marketing effort. I own a small historic hotel in Linden, Tn (located between Nashville and Memphis) and many of our guests appreciate the authentic and not packaged atmosphere of our downtown. I truly believe that this is our competitive edge and visitors often remark nostalgically how this reminds them of a place they have lived or visited. That is an emotion that cannot be duplicated.

2 Joanne Steele August 25, 2012 at 8:02 am

Exactly. Linden is a real gem. Your area is so lucky to have a great market so close by (Two big urban areas) that is aching for what you have.

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