Doing business anywhere has its challenges but running a small business in Cornwall at the moment arguably has more than most, says Sue Bradbury, especially for those in the tourism and leisure industry.
A difficult economy (possibly an understatement!), cheap holidays abroad and what seems like years of rainy summers have all conspired to create a perfect storm of uncertainty when it comes to visitors and bookings.
So what can we do about it? These are my suggestions:
- Don’t be complacent. It’s a competitive world and you have to work hard to attract attention. Why should people come to you rather than someone else? What can you offer them that’s different? Define your key messages – are you being clear about who you are and what you do?
- Who are your customers or clients? Don’t just lump them in together – segment your market and think carefully about how you communicate with each group. Teenagers are very different to older people in terms of what they read and what is likely to interest them.
- Like it or loathe it, technology is changing the world and has to be embraced. Most of us look to the Internet to make our holiday choices so having a good website that’s easy to navigate, attractive to look at and easy to find (that means building it with key words in mind and not letting it stagnate if you want to be well up the Google rankings) really is a ‘must’.
- There are lots of tools in a communication toolkit – news articles, features, events, adverts, Twitter, Facebook and blogs to name but a few. Not communicating when you’re trying to run a business is like winking in the dark. Who is going to notice?
- Look at the bigger picture. Rather than viewing them as competition, get together with other businesses in your area and brainstorm how you can help each other. Two or more heads really are better than one – especially when it comes to getting visitors to Cornwall. Whether it’s to organise a festival, set up a community website, share marketing costs or put a strategy in place, collaboration works and it does make you stronger.
About the Author:
Sue Bradbury works in the PR sector. She has a number of clients in the leisure and tourism industry and delivers workshops to businesses on behalf of Visit Cornwall.