Small towns: where everyone knows everyone’s business, but… 

I’ve lived around Alva, Oklahoma, since 1984. Naturally, I know all about every business in town, right? No, apparently I don’t.

I went around to local businesses while organizing for Small Business Saturday. In every store, I found something I didn’t realize that they carried. Every single store. I’m not making that up! 

I knew my favorite women’s shop had kid’s clothes, too, but I didn’t know about the plush stuffed animals for kids. The sewing center has adult coloring books. The Radio Shack (yes, we still have one) has barbecue spices and KitchenAid mixers. The kitchen shop has kids’ books. Who knew?

And then there are the stores I didn’t know even existed. The owner of a place called Hotpink Daisy & Chrome hit me up on Facebook about getting into the group for Small Biz Saturday. I didn’t know we had such a thing, where it was, or what they might sell. Turns out it’s a branch of a local store from a nearby town, and they’ve been in town for a year. They sell women’s clothes and accessories, and they have men’s things, too. Which is all great! But their marketing hadn’t gotten through to me yet. 

Is it just a coincidence that when I asked small business owners about their challenges, they mentioned marketing over and over? 

“Where should we put our advertising dollars? FB is not getting to all our clients and email blast opens are decreasing. Newspaper and radio is like throwing money out the window. I’m at a loss on how to get more people to know about us.”

“It changes so fast & there’s so much technical jargon for SEO/ websites/mobile that I end up feeling stupid and end up ignoring it all.”

“Help, I’m new to the business, and people keep going to larger and more established businesses first. How do I get noticed and accepted?”

Despite the idea that everyone knows everyone’s business in small towns, everyone doesn’t know about everyone’s small business. We all have a lot more marketing to do. 

Marketing is the focus on a webinar I’m doing on Tuesday Jan 12, “What Works in Rural Marketing Today: Be heard without shouting.” There is no charge to attend, but registration is required. 

Keep shaping the future of your community, 

PS – Want to promote entrepreneurship in your area? Kauffman Foundation says turn away from past strategies and put entrepreneurs at the center.  Also fun: Nine out of ten Aussie consumers prefer to buy locally made goods