Why regional does it better
Posted on July 17, 2015
4 min read
We’ve all heard of small town hospitality, but technology is changing the way regional businesses operate. But are the fundamentals still the same?
Wollongong-based Brett Turley, or Mr Minimalism when he’s working as a fitness instructor, uses the “simplest and fewest elements … to create maximum effect” to get people fit – but his business plan, conversely, is sophisticated and complex.
At the heart of his business is customer service – a natural cornerstone of a business strategy in regional areas where word-of-mouth spreads like wildfire –complemented with comprehensive market research and a marketing mix with social media at the core.
“You’ve got a smaller population where people know each other, people talk, and it’s your reputation and the way you treat your customers that sets you above the rest of your competitors,” says Brett.
An Open Conversation
The biggest advantage for Brett is being a part of the community and having a short feedback loop from his customers.
“You do all the market research in the world and actually launch something, [but] all of a sudden you get feedback saying ‘This could be improved better. This could be an addition’ – it really opens your eyes to what you should be offering as opposed to what you are.”
And in regional centres or towns, where foot traffic isn’t in such rich supply as metropolitan areas, it’s this that sets regional businesses apart.
“We focus heavily on the community. If you build a community, they’ll support you when the times are tough, and they’ll also open your eyes to great new opportunities that you wouldn’t have thought of yourself.”
For Telstra Country Wide Area General Manager for South West Victoria, Bill Mundy, the regional marketplace is more competitive than many people realise.
“What regional businesses do better is they know how to compete, and compete hard. They have incredibly mobile customers, who can get services from a digital medium, or shipped in from a metropolitan area, so they’re personalising their service and their product offerings to the customers, to ensure they’re able to build a strong relationship with their customers.”
Bringing Regional To The World
Using technology, regional businesses are starting to expand this focus on service to metro markets that aren’t used to seeing that “small town hospitality”.
“We’ve got businesses in regional areas now that conduct webinars both in a regional context, but on a global context too, to ensure they’re able to keep their customers informed of latest developments.
“Where we’re seeing regional businesses struggling, it’s often because they haven’t adopted technology. In order to communicate better with their customers, they need to be on social media, they need to change their business model to deliver both productivity and efficiency in their business.
And Brett Turley agrees:
“Forms of social media, your SEO for your website, Google hangouts, your map marker location, [are all technologies] that really impact on how you’re found and who finds you.
“I’m just about to expand the online portion of my business to online coaching and training. I’ve also got my first book release on Amazon… so that’s where I’m looking at growth.”
BRETT TURLEY’S TIPS FOR METRO SMALL BUSINESS
1. Under promise and over deliver. “Set yourself above the average business in your industry by delivering that next level of client satisfaction.”
2. Marketing is good, but being good is better. “You can’t hide. You really can’t hide in a regional area. Put out a big smoking new campaign… to make yourself look like you’re the leader in your field, but all it takes is for one or two clients to come through, and if your systems and your skills aren’t up to what you’re claiming… people hear about it.”
3. Be calculated with your marketing. “I was quite lucky there was a market, which allowed me to structure my website, the SEO, the content on my website… my USP even, to really stand out in the area I’m in to attract the right sort of client.”
4. Customers first. “People know each other. People talk. It’s really your reputation and the way you treat your customers that sets you above the rest of your competitors.”
Unsure how technology can help you reach new markets? Visit your local Telstra Business Centre. To find your closest centre, head here.