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Branding vs Search Marketing in Regional Town

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Lee Wright

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Feb 28, 2018
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Orange, NSW, Australia
I started an event hire business in a major city 10 years ago & I did that just through SEO. 4 years ago I moved to a regional town of 40K people & started the same business. My initial thought was since I had virtually no online competition I would be able to do well. I have been able to dominate Google search no problem but it hasn't translated well into sales. I probably get about 2 days a week of work. 2 possibilities came to mind:
1. There simply isn't enough demand in a town this size OR
2. I'm just not marketed well enough.

#1 Size of Demand
-I looked at other towns around my state & it looks like you need a population of about 20K to sustain a decent event hire business i.e. one with premises & a couple of staff. The guy in the next town about 40 minutes away actually has 10 staff & it's the same sized town. They do have a national car race there each year (Bathurst) & they do some work here as well as travelling to other car races around the state so he's a bit of an exception but still it gives some insight. In summary then it looks like there should easily be enough demand in my town for my type of business.

#2 Marketing Exposure
-I get the distinct feeling that online search isn't as big in the country. A number of customers have said they didn't know about me despite them seeming quite tech savvy.
-Word of mouth seems to be a big thing in the country. There's a strong community Facebook group & people are always asking for recommendations & people seem to love to recommend their favorite supplier. For example recent requests for the following got this many responses: electrician 24, removalist 21, handyman 16, wedding photographer 31, carpet cleaner 12 etc. As an experiment I got someone to ask about my type of business. There was only one response! (a past customer) - fortunately they did recommend me but that's an extreme difference in the number of recommendations. I guess that means that there's not much awareness in the general community.

In the past I've always dismissed brand type advertising as only being for large companies with a mass market product e.g. Coke or McDonalds. I've tended to lean more towards direct response ideas instead. Perhaps in a small town where you could afford to get your brand out to everyone, maybe branding ads would make sense. I could probably show ads to everyone on Facebook for under $500.

I might address this more in another post but there are 2 other factors that might come into play:
3. Personal network &
4. Playing bigger.

#3 Networking. I've noticed something with a lot of successful local businesses. They have a lot of followers on Facebook i.e in the hundreds or thousands whilst I only have 32! I know people are happy with my service & I have way more Google reviews but I'm a bit of an introvert.

#4 Playing Bigger.
I currently operate from my garage at home. About 30% of customers visit me in person. I wonder if not having proper premises is preventing me from getting the bigger clients. I'm loathed to get a warehouse though & I have capacity to 3x my business still working from home.

Anyway I'd love to hear people's ideas on all this.

Thanks.
 

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GoodluckChuck

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It might be something you have to actively sell. Find out what events are coming or happen every year and figure out how runs it.

Marketing is weird and really depends on how the people in your market find what they're looking for. In a big city there are so many people that even if something doesn't work great, there is enough volume for it to still work. In a small town it might just be that people tend to look in one place and not another. (Google vs offline)

I do a lot of online marketing and I talk to a lot of people that are killing it offline. They say that there just isn't a ton of competition!

An idea that just popped into my head is to call people that run events in your area and ask them where they find help. Maybe they'll give you some ideas you haven't heard of or thought of.
 
OP
OP
Lee Wright

Lee Wright

Contributor
Feb 28, 2018
68
65
109
52
Orange, NSW, Australia
In a big city there are so many people that even if something doesn't work great, there is enough volume for it to still work. In a small town it might just be that people tend to look in one place and not another. (Google vs offline)
Yes that thought occurred to me too. In a city of 5 million even ordinary marketing could work given the sheer size of the market.

I do a lot of online marketing and I talk to a lot of people that are killing it offline. They say that there just isn't a ton of competition!
Yes that's exactly what I find. If I run Google Search or Display Ads or Facebook Ads I'm usually the only local business.

An idea that just popped into my head is to call people that run events in your area and ask them where they find help. Maybe they'll give you some ideas you haven't heard of or thought of.
Yes good idea.
 

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