By Melissa Ripp
When I worked in Door County’s non-profit world, I remember this time of year well—in fact, when I worked at American Folklore Theatre, I called it “The Scramble”. The Scramble, in essence, is that period of time that you become fully aware that you are open, barely operational, and that you need to start thinking about absolutely everything you need to do to make sure the beginning of your season goes off without a hitch. And for many Door County businesses, that means getting your marketing and advertising house in some sort of order.
No matter if this is your first or fiftieth season of running a business on the peninsula, we’re sure you have the same questions you do every year. What’s the best way to maximize my small (or non-existent) advertising budget? Do I place radio ads? Newspaper ads? Did I ever get that ad in for the Door County Visitor’s Bureau guidebook? Is this the year I should finally update my Facebook and Twitter pages?
Needless to say, Tweak feels your pain. In fact, as a local Door County business, we still struggle with how to best market ourselves—which might strike you as ironic, seeing we work in social media. So, we’ve compiled a short checklist to make your winter to in-season transition as seamless as possible from a marketing and advertising perspective:
Figure out your budget.
We know—this one is so simple, you’d think it wouldn’t need to be said—but we’ve lost track of how many times we’ve met with a client for the first time and they admit to us that they’ve never set a budget for advertising. Budgeting and planning for the season—whether it’s the number of ads you plan on running or setting aside a monthly fee for your marketing company to work on your social media strategy. In our experience, it’s good to set aside a few extra dollars for other marketing opportunities that just come up—a really good deal on a usually pricey ad, for example.
Update your website—even if it’s just the text.
When potential customers come to your website, they want the information they came there to get—not your menu from 2011 and an out-of-service phone number. At this point, over 60% of smartphone and tablet users are using their devices to access the Internet, which means that they are searching for you much more than you might think they are—and they expect the information on your website to be correct.
We aren’t advocating an entirely new website design (unless it’s been a few years—then you might need to freshen things up a bit)—but we are suggesting that you take the time to go through your pages and look for typos and outdated information. If you own a restaurant or a hotel, take a moment to make sure that your menu downloads, brochures, and prices are all current.
Get on social. And start posting right…now.
There’s no reason why your business shouldn’t be on social media. If you’re new to social, start out small—a Facebook page is an excellent place to begin—and if you need help (or want to understand all the ways that social can help your business), you can always reach out to us.
Have a Facebook page, but haven’t posted to it since last season? There’s no better time to start than right now. Part of the reason social media makes sense for both year-round and seasonal businesses in Door County is that your fans and followers want to know what you’re doing—that’s what they’re following you. So, give them some information that gets them excited for their next Door County visit—let them know how you get ready for the season and how excited you are to see your customers again.
If you’d like an example of this, we’ve worked with The Cookery Restaurant & Wine Bar in Fish Creek to implement a “Cookery Countdown” social media campaign, in which we showcase all of the ways the Skare family gets ready for the upcoming season ahead.
If you dip your toes ever so slightly into the social media pool, you probably know that “organic reach” on Facebook (or, in layman’s terms, the number of people who are shown a particular Facebook post through unpaid means) is non-existent—which means more and more small businesses are turning to Facebook advertising (and Twitter advertising, and LinkedIn advertising, and even Instagram advertising) to reach a niche audience for a tiny fraction of the cost of one newspaper ad. These types of ads work well for a variety of businesses here on the peninsula, especially if you’re a hotel, a restaurant, gift shop, experience business, etc.