How To Make Sure Your Rural Marketing Makes You Money
Now is the time to ensure your rural marketing machine is making money rather than costing you money.
When times get tough the first thing to always go in the budget is marketing.
And so it should.
Any marketing that doesn’t deliver an outcome is only an output, something many marketing managers unfortunately mistake.
All marketing activity needs to be attributable ie. did it deliver on the outcome you wanted?
- if you want more leads you will still need to market. You can’t turn everything off or others get in line whilst you’re out of sight
- if you want more emails to build your list you will need to create quality content and ensure your website is optimised with the correct SEO principles
- if you want sales you will need to understand your customer at the deepest level so you can meet their needs better than anyone else
- if you want more orders your sales team will need to dig deeper with better personal development that increases their competence and confidence
- you will still need to communicate in a way that connects with your customers to give them confidence and conviction they are making good purchase choices
Now is not the time to go quiet.
You can’t play in generalities, you need to segment based on specifics. Different customers will require different approaches depending on their persona and preferences.
There also a number of different ways you can make saving on your marketing or maximise it.
Here are 6 ideas you can use:
1. Assess all subscription services
Have you got the right technology systems? Are you paying too much? Are you on the right plan? Can you find alternatives that cost you less but offer the same functionality?
Subscriptions are like sleepers. Nibbling away at your money silently in the background. You’ll be surprised how much subscriptions can stack up.
Export your Xero or bank transaction codes and go through each to work out if they are essential or non-essential.
Doing this process alone last week alone saved us $US370/month.
2. Conduct an independent marketing assessment
We sadly see all too often too much wastage when we review marketing budgets.
And effectively assessing marketing has to be a truly independent process where self-interest is set aside.
Getting those who have obvious commercial biases attached to their advice doesn’t give you what you need most in a marketing assessment: honesty.
On average, we find about 15-20% of immediate marketing savings when we conduct our own independent assessments because we know what works and what doesn’t.
The key is turning off the wrong stuff and turning on the right stuff so you don’t hurt or harm your rural business.
Cutting off all your marketing is super stupid. Whilst you do this, competitors will continue theirs which leaves you playing catch up.
It’s about playing it smart, not stupid. It’s also about being selective and strategic.
Think carefully, ask the hard questions and get good independent advice on what works and what doesn’t.
3. Contract out
Many of the rural companies we work with don’t have in-house marketing managers because they sometimes can’t justify the salaries they seek.
You have other options:
- you can contract out some or all of your marketing saving yourself the associated in-house costs like ACC, Kiwisaver, office lease space, IT support, annual leave, sick leave and special leave (which can represent up to 40% of associated costs on top of salaries)
Contracting out your marketing activity means you only pay for what you use and nothing else.
You don’t have anything fixed, you keep it flexible instead. On tap but not on top which gives you more air to breathe and can help cashflow.
You want skilled and proven marketing resource you can turn on and off as and when your rural business needs it. That resource can hit the ground running with little or no lag factor.
You also get the benefit of hand picked experience and proven specialism – if you choose carefully.
4. Forget Fieldays
Unless you’re a big company forget National Fieldays. We see companies spending anything from $70k-$300k on this national event when that same money could have been spent in such better ways.
The problem with National Fieldays is it’s got too big. This means it work for the big boys but leaves little room for others picking at the scraps on the periphery.
Exhibitor fees have increased without an increase in value or traffic and cut through is getting harder.
You have other options:
- support more local regional fielday events so you can target and tailor your message more effectively
- create your own on-farm fieldays with customers who other customers look up to, admire and respect (or collaborate and co-host with a complimentary partner)
- have a fielday every day through face to face conversations with your customers (why wait?)
- use webinars, emails, blogs, white papers, work sheets, e-books and podcasts to continually connect with your customers so you out-teach to out-sell (those who educate the market own the market)
- create and commit to a content plan that creates regular, relevant communications that reinforce and reminds them of the value of the relationship they have with you (out of sight is out of mind)
5. Axe your advertising
Traditional paid advertising is vanity. Direct advertising is sanity.
Any advertising has to be attributable.
It’s not enough to defend awareness. Instead you need your customer to take an action be it an 0800 call, an email or an order.
Advertising can come in all forms but gone are the days of mindless media placement.
You can’t justify advertising if you didn’t get an associated result because you can’t measure what you can’t manage.
We’ve always been big fans of owned and earnt media before paid. Owned media are your assets like your website, blog, email list. Earnt media are the column inches and editorial you get or the conferences or guest podcasts you get to you speak at.
Paid media should be your third and final option only after you’ve exhausted all owned and earnt options.
Where paid media can work is when it gets you earnt media. So negotiate the two to get the best deal.
6. Downsize your agency (or don’t use a big one)
Most of the time you’re paying for big overheads and salaries to the same talent that you can also find in leaner, meaner independents at more reasonable rates.
You don’t need the big names because most of the best talent works for themselves these days.
That’s exactly the reason why we set up business 3 years ago: to offer affordable and accessible sales and marketing strategies to rural businesses who deserved better.
Because we saw too many rural businesses burnt by a lack of accountability and poor self-interested advice, we felt it wasn’t right.
That’s why we also decided to guarantee our results if clients followed our process – or we’d refund.
It’s never fair to ask clients to take on all the risk. Reducing that risk is the right and reasonable thing to do for any provider.
You and your rural business will be better and stronger for it.
It’s always good business practice to look for greater efficacies and efficiencies and when things tighten up, even more so.
Just remember though when looking, trim the fat but don’t cut the muscle.
Be smart and be selective. And whatever you do don’t go quiet.