That’s right, I heard a local merchant stand up and tell a meeting with a hundred folks exactly this. Every day I have folks tell me they don’t want to change….they want it to be as if it were 1955, 1965, 1975,1985……..
Last Tuesday Dupree, SD (pop. 434) made the news. The town’s mayor is quoted in a Slate magazine article saying that the community is 30 years behind the times and that the town residents probably aren’t interested enough in broadband internet to pay for it.
Most people are aware that the Federal government is implementing a program that would help bring broadband to rural areas previously lacking it. Completing the task of wiring Rural America with ground-based broadband could cost the feds as much as $24 billion; but the plan is generally well supported.
Chris Wilson, the author of “What’s wrong with the FCC’s plan to bring high-speed Internet access to rural America,” makes the case that there are better places to invest this money. In doing so, he hides behind the statement, “Before the federal government invests billions in extending high-speed Internet to such areas, it ought to make sure people want it-and are ready for it.”
Do we want it and are we ready for it? Using these questions as the basis for one’s argument against broadband is a bit like asking, “Do you want cure for cancer and are you ready it for it?” Well maybe, maybe not. But does that mean it shouldn’t be available to everyone?
Yes, I know that analogy is a bit cheesy, but the point is broadband internet is a vital part of every community’s infrastructure. Without it, I doubt rural communities have the ability to survive. Wilson may be willing to write off some rural communities because he doesn’t think they are worth it, but he shouldn’t hide behind the argument that rural residents don’t want it. I can’t afford to spend $1400-$1600 a month in advertising as I did when I first opened.
This meeting where the above comment was uttered was co-sponsered by a university assisting us in bringing our little town back to life. Western Carolina University”http://www.wcu.edu/” has dedicated public relations, marketing, hospitality and entrepenuer professors and students to assist our town. Last Monday WCU sponsered a seminar using the computer and free social media marketing for small business owners. WCU students and some of the merchants have been posting on a Facebook page for a few months…within 48 hours of the seminar “fans’ of the Town of Dillsboro http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/pages/Dillsboro-NC/The-Town-of-Dillsboro/347168350719?ref=ts jumped by over 50 folks. 387 people viewed that page this week…stop and think….. how many people went and got the paper just to see your store’s ad this week? How much did you pay for that ad? If you don’t spend your money for an ad next week will anybody see your ad? The facebook page will still be there, today, tomorrow, forever…FREE.
When I decided to write about this, I went online to search for facts, ideas, etc. As usual I found someone who had written something better than I ever could, so I’ll let Joanne Steele of http://ruraltourismmarketing.com tell you more.
Why Social Media Marketing is Hard for Rural Tourism Businessby Joanne Steele on March 25, 2010
I’ve written about these challenges before, and will not doubt post about them in the future as we continue this shift to the Internet as a primary tourism planning and booking tool. I’m with you as you navigate these uncharted waters!
friends, Facebook style
Rural tourism business owners view the Internet and social media as both a blessing and a curse.It’s a blessing because it offers a more direct way for you to reach your customers.
It’s a curse because it offers a more direct way for you to reach your customers!
Before, you’d do mailings and advertisements and pr until the money ran out.
You hoped it would be enough, but your advertising budget would cap what you could do.
With social media, there seems to always be something more you should or could do to be reaching prospective customers.
It’s harder to budget time than money. So we always are faced with the doubt that we’ve done enough.
We’re also working in the midst of a paradigm shift, where the technology is changing faster than any small business owner can keep up with.
And lastly, there’s a generational problem.
If you’re over 50, you probably view the Internet as a gadget. Something that’s handy to have around to keep up on the kids and to check the weather and look up maps and do a little research.
If you’re between 35 and 50, you see it as a tool. You use it everyday to communicate and to do research, but you have a life outside of your technology. You define friends as people with whom you have a face-to-face relationship.
If you’re under 35, the Internet and technology is an extension of your being. Taking away your phone or laptop is a little like amputating a hand. You have a digital definition of friend, and you gather most of your information without ever touching paper.
So what’s the solution for rural tourism business?
1. Realize that it is the TECHNOLOGY that is giving you fits, not the underlying marketing basics.
2. It’s still about getting your message to your customer in the most direct way possible. The Internet is a fantastic TOOL for you to do that.
3. You know the importance of talking to your customer already. You do it so well that big business actually copies you, trying to achieve the same level of personal connection and interaction that makes you successful.
4. Social media marketing makes it easier to do what you do well – talk to your customer. It’s actually easier than your old advertising methods that put all kinds of barriers between you and your customers.
5. Invest in a little help to build your confidence using the Internet and social media. Don’t let your business go down over your resistance to this shift to online marketing. Learn to use it. Get help building a media marketing plan that you can implement and handle yourself
It’s like learning to drive a car. With a little practice, it will become automatic and even fun.
And by the way, this is one of the things we do at Rural Tourism Marketing Group. We work well via email, skype, phone and in person. Thank you,Joanne and thank you, WCU
Not all of us want everything the same as it has been or is.There are those of us who do want to reach out to our customers. There are those of us that do want to learn new things. Yes, there are those of us who want a cure for cancer.
Are you one of those?