Internet Marketing Workshop

“There aren’t enough hours in the day to keep track of all those social media sites!” complained one small rural business owner.

He is correct. The internet is a vast realm of marketing opportunity for rural small businesses, and without a strategy for approaching this opportunity, the prospect can be overwhelming.

Already overworked business owners either take the “fix it and forget it” approach to posting a website, which is never updated, or they use the “spray and pray” method where they post a little here, and a little there hoping, as in past traditional marketing efforts, that their customer will trip over the information at exactly the time they need it to make a buying decision.

Neither solution works, which leads to too many rural small businesses rejecting the internet as a viable marketing option for them. Here’s a new workshop option:

Making the Internet Work for You, Your Business and Your Town

For information about how you can schedule a workshop in your area contact Joanne Steele.

The following is a press release written by Barbara Cross, a member of the Dunsmuir, California workshop:


“Who is your perfect customer?” was the question to a group of business owners and chamber members last Monday and Wednesday evenings at Dunsmuir High School.  The workshop was entitled “Making the Internet Work for You,Your Business and Your Town” and was led by Joanne Steele, former Siskiyou County Director of Tourism.

“If you target everyone, you are actually targeting no one,” she explained.  It was apparent that most in the group did not know who their perfect customer is.  With specific questioning including, “Is this customer a man or a woman?,  How old is he/she?, What does he/she shop for?, What are her worries and fears?, and How would shopping with you help solve his/her worries?” these owners and chamber members were able to define their most important customer bases.

It turns out that most perfect customers are women.  Women make the majority of travel decisions, purchasing decisions and family decisions.  Other defining questions included, “What does she dream about,  What does she do in her spare time, What line of work is she in?

Most of the merchants began to see how this customer was a woman, although Bob Grace of The Ted Fay Fly Shop said, “I wish my perfect customer was a woman, but mine is a man.”  David Clarno, owner of The Dunsmuir Brewery Works, said, “My perfect customer is an older woman who comes with friends and her husband for socializing and warmth and a sense of family.”  Barbara Cross, former Dunsmuir Chamber President,  said “I go to the Brewery for the sense of community there.  I feel I know everyone there even if I don’t.”

Dave Harrison, owner of Aldenbrook Manor in Etna, learned that his perfect customers were older couples, not  hikers and young  families.  His Victorian Bed and Breakfast appeals to older people who have more time and money to spend.  “I will change my images to older people enjoying a glass of wine in one of my antique rooms, after possibly completing  a day hike,” he said.  “I will feature people enjoying the luxury and quality of what we offer.”

Kathy Wallace, a volunteer at the Dunsmir Chamber, said, “Our perfect customer at the Chamber is an older women wanting some excitement in her life, but not too much.  She doesn’t want to miss out on anything.”

Rain Venable, a Board member of the Dunsmuir Arts Guild, said, “The best thing I leaned was how to focus a plan around a perfect customer.

“This information is important,” Steele explained, “in order to know the pictures and images and words to use on your website to attract that customer.”

Another session was devoted to knowing your town and what it has to offer.  What architecture, art, commerce and cuisine do you have?  What special customs and events, geography and environment, history and people?  What are you really selling?

Local participants from Dunsmuir, Mt Shasta, McCloud, Weed, and Etna, realized they lived in areas that had a lot of appeal from all those viewpoints and that people would travel and visit and spend money to participate in them.

Other important points she explained about websites are that they are not billboards, but ever moving and changing tools.  There are information networks and social networks and both are important to merchants.  Participants practiced writing 25 word descriptions of their businesses using action verbs and describing benefits to the customer.  “Remember, it’s about them, not you,” Steele emphasized.

April Gray from McCloud Local said, “It is exciting to learn how to take control of your company on the various information sites.”

Rain Venable added, “I thought everything would be much more expensive.  This is really do-able.”

The second session on Wednesday evening dealt with more technical topics including “How to Pick a Webmaster”,  “Examples of WordPress Business Websites”, “Planning a Home Page”, “Planning Website Interior Pages”, “Using Social Networks”, and finishing with creating a 10-week strategy for better internet marketing.

Participants were enthusiastic about the knowledge and possibilities presented to them.    “I am amazed at all the information presented and how much I learned,” said pet care provider Sophia Onra of Dunsmuir.

Steele added, “I will be watching this group to see how they use their new internet marketing skills, and expect to refer future students to them as good online marketers.”