Located in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley in a picturesque small town named Stuarts Draft, Valley Inbound has had the opportunity to learn about the unique challenges that companies like yours will face when growing your business in a small town. An area known for its scenic beauty and surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains, the micropolitan area includes Staunton, Waynesboro, and Augusta County and is home to roughly 120,000 residents.
When we decided to locate our inbound marketing agency in the area we realized there were going to be some unique challenges we faced as we worked to grow our own business while helping our business partners succeed as well. However, this was an area we fell in love with and we’ve never been one to back down from a good challenge so we were determined to find a way to succeed.
We’ve learned some exciting lessons along our journey and we wanted to share with our fellow readers some of the tricks we’ve learned while trying to drive the business growth of our digital marketing agency in a small town.
Growing your Business in a Small Town
Tip #1: Be Authentic!
It’s no coincidence that this is our #1 tip. Being authentic is absolutely critical if you want to launch a successful business in a rural community. If you’re fake, deceiving, or anything other than 100% authentic and true to yourself (and everybody else), people will catch on and that will be the end of you. You may have some short-term success but as soon as people learn better, the news will spread fast.
You only get one chance at building and maintaining a good name. Hiding in anonymity isn’t going to work in a community where people genuinely care about one another and look out for each other’s wellbeing.
Which leads me to tip #2…
Tip #2: Be Honest (even if it hurts)
Honesty is an important trait no matter where you are but it is even more important in a close-knit community like the one we have here in Augusta County. As famous Virginian Thomas Jefferson once said, “Honesty is the First Chapter in the Book of Wisdom.”
It may seem like just a small white lie, just this one time. But what starts with just a small dent in the armor gets out of control fast.
There’s not much more to say about this one. Honesty should be the expectation everywhere you go, at all times.
Tip #3: Become a Part of the Community
You won’t have any success building your business in a rural area unless you’re willing to put in the work to become part of the local community. There are a lot of ways you can get involved, including:
- Join your local Chamber of Commerce like the one we have here in Fishersville, VA
- Volunteer your services to a local non-profit that you are inspired by, such as Camp LIGHT, an amazing camp in Waynesboro bootstrapped by a local family who had a vision for helping kids with special needs
- Find local business groups you can join to meet other local business owners and professionals
We’re only touching the tip of the iceberg here. One of the biggest reasons to locate your business in a small town or village is because of your ability to become part of the local community. Make sure you take full advantage!
Tip #4: Support Other Local Businesses
Whenever possible you should go out of your way to support other local businesses. Not only will you be showing other businesses in the area that you want to support them but it also provides you with an excellent opportunity to get to know others in the local business community that you may otherwise not have had the opportunity to.
You’ll undoubtedly have many opportunities to show your support for other local businesses, but below is a short list of ideas:
- Purchase office supplies from a local business instead of Amazon
- Hire local a local tradesman (or woman!) to help with your business project
- Contract your local print shop to produce your marketing materials for a tradeshow
Tip #5: Establish your Business as an Expert
Depending on your niche, there’s a good chance you may only be competing with a few businesses in the area to stand out and build a name for yourself as the local expert in your chosen field.
Take advantage of this! Building credibility in your industry is a vital step in making a name for yourself and your business and once you’ve accomplished this a lot more business will come your way.
You establish this expertise not by telling people you are an expert but instead by showing them you are the master of your domain and the best way to do this is by giving away your knowledge.
Before you instantly dismiss this advice, hear me out! Do you know how to wash a car? Chances are you do but I’m willing to bet that at some point in your adult life you’ve likely taken your car to a carwash because you didn’t have the time or energy to wash it yourself…am I right? The reality is that most people don’t have the time or the desire to do your job but by helping them better understand the work involved, you’re establishing yourself as an expert.
So how exactly do you give away your knowledge? That’s where inbound marketing comes into play! We’ve provided some helpful ideas below but let us know in the comments if you have any other ideas.
- Blog – yep, you guessed it! Blogging is by far one of the best ways to establish yourself as an expert in your industry. If you don’t already have a blog setup as part of your website contact us as we’ll help get you started
- Media – Reach out to your local newspaper about writing a guest article or an Expert Q&A article for them
- Host an Event – contact your local YMCA or a church in the area about borrowing some space on a weekday evening and host a workshop to help other local businesses and community members in the area understand more about what it is you do and how they can learn to do it themselves
Tip #6: Utilize Inbound Marketing to Build your Network!
You may not have realized it but tip #4 was actually the first step in crafting your inbound marketing skills. You wouldn’t host a workshop for people in your target demographic without trying to build your network though so why would you stop with that when it comes to providing excellent content online?
Sharing your expertise with others in the community is a great first step but then you need to identify a way to build a relationship out of that. This is done by capturing contact information for your visitors and then building an authentic relationship with them that is based upon trust.
Remaining authentic and staying true to yourself is crucial anywhere you go but especially in a small town. If you’re being fake people will quickly spot it and word will get around. Protect your reputation by providing others with top notch content and being upfront and honest with people at all times!
So there you have it, 6 crucial tips for developing and growing your business in a small town! Building a business comes with a unique set of challenges but through hard work, strategic focus, and developing authentic relationships rooted in trust you can be successful. Good luck!