This is my callout to all the young professionals in the city who are old enough to know they are done with the city, but young enough to be considered youthful in a small town...
MOVE TO A SMALL TOWN! WE NEED YOU!
- Do you ever daydream about 'making a difference'?
- Do you ever daydream about moving to the country?
- Do you ever daydream about simplifying?
Then you are like me and you spend all day daydreaming when you should be working! Get back to work! JK – read the rest of this post, it took me a long time to write it.
I know you are thinking: 'Where will I work if I move to a small town?’ Well, I don't know. It can be tough. But if you have the chops to work freelance, or buddy up with some like-minded entrepreneurs like I finally did, you can make it work. You can live off very little in a town like Marmora and it will be totally worth it.
There are a number of problems facing small town economic development, and marketing especially has it's own set of challenges in a small community. For one, many businesses are owned and operated by one to three people. Very small. They have tried some sort of advertising in the past with little to no success and so they don't see the need to repeat that mistake – just like I don't see the need repeat my mistake of buying skinny jeans that don't stretch. It feels like a big waste of money.
That makes my job pretty hard; people who own a small business in a small town try to do as much as they can themselves to save money. And that's a good idea... but marketing should be more informed than just throwing a company logo in the newspaper.
And, on the topic of informed advertising, here's another challenge: it's great when you get to work on deep-pocketed clients' business. You strive to have the big brands in your portfolio because they have the money for research, they can give you information on their brand’s status across the country or internationally, how it performs here compared to there. You can capture thousands of engaged customers with the click of a button because you’re working on an established brand – and not only an established brand, you’re probably working with an established agency with established procedures. Established bosses, writers, creative directors, designers... That is far from the situation in a small town. These small businesses can't afford to go to an agency. It is hard for them to engage a large audience quickly, and many people are slow to adopt new technology, so business owners themselves aren't familiar with social media – the most affordable ad platform out there. They need our help the most.
Which brings me to my next point: you don't have narrow demographics that can sustain a whole business. You kind of need to engage everyone because the population isn't large enough to be exclusive. So it becomes really hard to formulate an interesting voice. Don't you love it when you get a brief from a client and the demographic is ‘everyone’? Cue eye roll. Well, in the case of many small town businesses, that's the way it is. You have to engage people from every demographic, or offer a product people are willing to travel 200km for.
These are some of the main reasons we need more young professionals in the small towns – not only because the businesses need you, but also because the more there are of us to work together, the better our situation will become. I work closely with a couple that moved here from Toronto. We have banded together because we all bring something to the table that the others don't have. I wouldn't be able to work on many of the projects I have over the past year if they had not moved to town. Who knows, I could have ended up selling insurance or something. True story.
Did anyone ever feel good about helping Coca-Cola make more money? Probably not. But these guys, man, it feels good if you can help a small, struggling business out.
- You will be making a difference.
- You will be in the country.
- Life can be simple.