If you can successfully market your rural business online you can reach out to and connect with more of your target market than using traditional channels.

Digital, or online marketing, offers the rural industry the chance to overcome one of the greatest barriers to business growth in the bush. The internet does not care where you physically live. If you have a product to sell or information to share then as long as your distribution channels are reliable you can do business online.

The online clearing sale

During the economic downturn, regional Australia’s small businesses turned to e-commerce sites like eBay to sell stock they could not sell locally. Motorbike repair shops were able to offload spare parts that had sat in back sheds for years to help stay afloat.

As mining companies wound up their activities in regional areas, local farmers had the opportunity to buy unwanted supplies in bulk quantities that they then proceeded to sell as individual units online.

The new bush telegraph

Grey nomads and other travellers are no longer restricted to the opening hours of the local visitor information centre to learn about the local businesses and attractions in a rural town. Some Shire Councils have created apps to help visitors learn about their regions and other rural businesses are able to target their customers through a website.

Accommodation providers like BnBs and farmstays don’t have to rely on a flier in a caravan park or sign on the side of the road to tell travellers about their business.

Maximum exposure for rural business using online marketing

Small accommodation providers also benefit from being able to market their service, targeting their market months ahead of when the visitor is travelling through the region.

By advertising online, rural businesses can engage with potential customers before their competition is known to the customer. The needs of the customer can be identified and incentives offered to help establish a relationship and secure the sale.

The cheaper way to do business in the outback

Unfortunately, internet access is not always reliable or available in rural Australia. For those businesses who do have reasonable internet access or a business website that doesn’t need constant updating, it is much more cost-effective to advertise online than through traditional markets such as the Yellow Pages.

A new farmer’s market

Talented and creative rural people are now able to establish successful boutique businesses that can operate online without the penalty of geographic isolation from the marketplace. It isn’t just commercial or cottage industries that benefit from online marketing opportunities.

Opportunities to diversify will help family relationships

The social and mental health benefits of being able to reach out to the rural community online will also be experienced by those able to engage in profitable online business ventures.

One of the great succession planning challenges facing rural farms is the ability to financially provide for successive generations of family members. The secret may be online, and the time to embrace the technology may be now.