Q: I run a tyre business which is located in a remote rural area, 15km from the nearest large town. Business is tight and I don't seem to be able to attract customers, any suggestions?
A: I meet many people in a similar situation. They have worked hard at establishing a business in their community, but find it difficult to get consumers to travel to them. You should be applauded for setting up the business and creating employment in your own region, but that alone is not going to help you make a commercial success of it.
You need to establish in your own mind what is the compelling reason for consumers to shop with you. In other words, what makes you so different from other tyre shops that will encourage consumers to possibly pass your competitors, and certainly travel some distance to do business with you.
It would be a good idea for you to list all of these unique selling points and that will be the first step.
Then you are into marketing the business and creating widespread awareness. Could you offer to collect people's cars and return them to their home? Could you have a mobile unit which goes out to people's houses to do tyre changes? Could you guarantee a quick turnaround in waiting time?
Regarding marketing techniques, have you considered door-to-door leaflets, developing a partnership with the local motor accessory shop who would recommend you, doing a piece for the local radio on topics such as winter tyre advice, etc. Building a strong social media strategy should also be a key part of your marketing plan. For a business to succeed in a remote location, you must work tirelessly.
Q I HAVE a boutique hotel in an area of beautiful scenery in the West. The marketing of the area by others is weak and my business is suffering. Can you advise on how I might influence this?
AStop waiting for others and start promoting your own business in its own right. Too many people wait for the government or agency to promote a region and fail to recognise the critical impact initiatives of their own can have on sales. Of course combined marketing activities and formal marketing campaigns supported by various agencies will always help, but you have to assume, you are on your own. If you can't answer some of the following questions, then there is an opportunity for you to do more. Do you offer to take provisional bookings for any tourists that stay with you this year, for the following year as they depart, with confirmation only been due nine months later? Do you have a database of guests and offer them deals or incentives to return? Is the great work you are doing known by all of the travel and food writers and do you get regular features?
It is always a good idea to create a marketing plan and set out activity for yourself over the 12 months of the year. Forcing yourself to put actions on paper is a good way to get a business focused on the task in hand. Having a strong social media campaign will also enhance visitor numbers. By all means, encourage group activities to promote the region, but take the lead.
Do you have a problem with your small business? Email Feargal at email@example.com