Getting Found

Map pin

Photo (CC) by stefanopaganini, on Flickr

In the recent few months, I have talked with several small, rural business owners about developing an online presence.

One of the topics that always comes up is the need for them to be found on the various online mapping services. Or if they already are listed on a service, to make sure that their pin or “bubble” is in the correct spot and that the information about their business is correct. In a couple of instances, the pin was incorrectly located by about six blocks.

Six blocks in today’s world could just as well be six miles or six counties. People unfamiliar with an area depend on the directions provided by these online mapping services. If the information is incorrect, it is rare that the traveler will search out the correct location. The bottom line here is lost revenue.

What can you do?

The UNL Extension Community Vitality Initiative, has written a great blog on how you can “Claim Your Bubble.” Read the post and make sure that your business is online and that the information is correct.

An online presence is crucial in today’s mobile society. And the world doesn’t wait for you to get your information up. If you don’t put it there, someone will probably do it for you. It’s your job to make sure it is correct and then to regularly stop by to ensure it remains accurate.

Food Safety at Farmers’ Markets

Farmers' Market

Photo by USDA

Food safety is on the radar screen for today’s consumer. The popular press regularly brings stories about issues of potential concern.

As a local food producer, farmers and other value-added entities are very aware of the need to provide a safe food product. One of the marketing points that many of you use relates to the idea of knowing your local producer and how that influences the feelings of food safety.

So how can you best ensure that the food you are providing continues to be safe for your customers? It isn’t extremely hard. It just requires understanding your production and distribution processes and then looking for where potential gaps occur where food safety issues might arise.

To help you with that Iowa State has put a free course online to help you evaluate your current systems and to put new tasks in place that will minimize the holes you find. The University of Missouri Extension system brought my attention to this great tool. I hope you find is useful.

Building a Social Media Strategy for an Event

social media channels

Photo (CC) by mkhmarketing, on Flickr

You are having an upcoming event and you want to spread the word. You know that social media should be part of your strategy but it seems like there are so many channels and so little time. How can you approach it?

Amanda Christensen, Extension Assistant Professor for the Utah State University , has developed a Marketing Map to help you map out a plan to reach a number of channels on a regular basis. Her blog post and a link to the map can be found here.

Just like an marketing effort, a one-and-done approach will not create the awareness you want. You need to get the event in front of people several times on various platforms. The Marketing Map includes newspapers but I might suggest that you broaden the traditional media category to include all of those outlets as well.

Getting this done will take time and effort. It would work best if you have a team and if you use scheduling tools such as Hootsuite.

Also use your networks to help you spread the word. And don’t forget to make personal contacts. Connecting directly with people can be very effective. Your direct contacts should include people involved in the media who you have nurtured over time.

The Map also reminds us about the lead time needed. They recommend some marketing being done up to five weeks out. Depending on the event, you may even want to put that out further. For some major conferences, I am getting save-the-date reminders nearly six months ahead. People have busy lives so the longer the notice, the more likely you are to get a good turnout.

Putting together an event takes a great deal of energy. And it offers the audience something they want and can use. So making sure people know about it makes your event a win-win situation. Use all of the tools, like the Social Media Marketing Map, at your disposal.

Good luck.