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Marketing strategies to put your business on the map

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In regional areas, competition for your market demographic can be fierce and loyalty is highly prized. And if you’re looking to capture passing trade, getting its attention is no easy feat.

So how can you get people’s attention? The secret is to think BIG.

Many might take this as an invitation to think laterally – some, though, took it literally.

If you’ve ever headed north on the Pacific Highway – more specifically, 565 kilometres up from Sydney – chances are you’ve stopped in at the aptly-named Big Banana in Coffs Harbour.

This banana was the marketing strategy of local entrepreneur John Landy. In 1964, he was in search of something to convince the passing traffic to stop at his roadside banana stall. Today, it spruiks more than a humble roadside store – the Big Banana now boasts a café, gift shop, nursery, ice rink, toboggan ride, trike rides and the two newest attractions, The World of Bananas multimedia theatre experience and The Banana Slip, Australia's first three-storey high inflatable waterslide. 

Tourist trap or local talent?

But the Big Banana is no longer simply just a tourist trap. This, explains Big Banana general manager Drew Grove, was an unsustainable strategy given tourists are only passing through town 16 weeks of the year.

“For too many years, the Big Banana only promoted and targeted tourists. It made no business sense not to actively market to the local market,” says Grove. “Campaigns such as our $5 Frenzy – a discount campaign which allows locals to visit the Big Banana attractions during the downtime for up to 75 per cent off – have been very successful. Not only does it drive local visitation but it fosters goodwill and develops a sense of community ownership of the park.”

The business also runs a Mates Rates loyalty card program for locals that, Grove says, has “proven fruitful”.

Marketing guru Philip Kotler says marketing is the art of creating genuine customer value, and not finding clever ways to dispose of what you make.

“The campaigns that are best targeted can be quantified. We’re talking directly to the consumer and giving them a reason to visit,” says Grove. “The difference between our loyalty card program and many others in the market are that they are ‘real’ offers and discounts. People are becoming very wary of incentive programs because a lot of the time there is no or little in the offer and the perception in the marketplace is that they are only there to suck people in.” 

Building a profile in the community

Marketing – at its heart – is about two things: creating an awareness of your brand and fostering loyalty towards it. Permission marketing guru Seth Godin says you have to make your business (or your marketing strategies) a purple cow – that is, your strategy should make you the purple cow that gets you noticed in a field of ordinary jerseys.

So, to make your business stand out, take a cue from Landy – remember, you can’t sell a secret!

Keep in mind you can think laterally as well as literally. If you’re, say, a draftsman, this doesn’t mean you need to build the big drawing board on your roof. Instead it means you need to make sure your services are highly visible. For example, when your designs are being constructed, have signage out front. They do this especially well in the real estate game. If Landy’s tack is anything to go by, there’s little place for modesty when it comes to marketing your business!

Reaching out online
Don’t forget the online market, either.

Recognising their target market (eight to 16 years), the Big Banana has also moved to sate the appetite of the online market – building a presence on Twitter and Facebook.

“Social networking also give us a great opportunity to be flexible and run short-term call-to-action campaigns,” says Grove. These, like an offer of $10 discount to ticket prices in a set time, are instantly measurable, unlike many other forms of traditional media.

These strategies, Grove assures, are paying off. The Banana attracts just under a million visitors each year, and it’s looking as though they will crack the mark as early as the financial year! 

Four sure-fire marketing tips for regional businesses
  • When it comes to your marketing strategies, the trick is to think BIG – laterally and literally!
  • Target your marketing messages and tailor your strategies to suit the target.
  • Build value in your brand with genuine offers and loyalty programs.
  • Have an online presence – reach beyond being a regional business.

So, if you’re looking to work on your business rather than being stuck in it, book in for a complimentary business assessment today with Switzer Business Coaching

Important information: This content has been prepared without taking account of the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular individual. It does not constitute formal advice. For this reason, any individual should, before acting, consider the appropriateness of the information, having regard to the individual’s objectives, financial situation and needs and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.

Published on: Thursday, May 27, 2010

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