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Marketing Your Enterprise

Effective marketing is a key element in any business enterprise. Landowners who do not have experience in marketing a service business often overlook its importance. Even the best-managed fee-recreation business can be unsuccessful if prospective clients are unaware of the enterprise.

Marketing is simply determining what people want, planning and providing products and services to meet those wants, and selecting the most effective ways of reaching those who might pay for these products and services.

Developing a Marketing Plan

Your Business Plan should contain a section that includes your Marketing Plan. Keep your plan simple, define your audience, define your service, and develop a plan for getting information about your enterprise to potential clients. You must remember to budget each year for marketing.

As you develop a marketing strategy you will want to identify the two or three strong selling points of your service or operation. It might be the success rate of a fee-hunting experience, exclusivity and solitude, facilities, location and access to area attractions, price, or other services you provide. Determining your audience first will help choose the key selling points for your marketing strategy.

Marketing Your Business

The type and amount of marketing you use in your fee-based recreation enterprise will depend on the specifics of your operation. Marketing can be as simple as word-of-mouth referral, or involve an intensive regional, national, or international media campaign.

Your marketing style and message must be directed to your identified audience. If you are providing dude-ranch activities, for example, you may emphasize the experience of riding horses and outdoor activities. Anything you print must reflect these selling points in neat, high quality, and tasteful presentation.

Sloppy advertisements or brochures reflect badly on your business.

The three basics of advertising include: the message (the two or three strong selling points and additional information about your service), the medium (publications, radio, TV, etc.), and the target audience you're trying to reach.

The Message

Your message should tell about the type of activity or enterprise you offer; additional goods and services; directions to your location; costs of the activities; and how to make reservations. Try to be original in your marketing. Keep your message simple. Always check dates, fees, addresses and phone numbers for accuracy. Make certain the goods and services advertised represent what you can deliver. Contact someone experienced in desktop publishing to assist in design and creation of printed pieces if you don't have this experience.

The Medium

Marketing includes a wide range of activities, from public relations and advertising, to promotions and trade shows. Advertising is the most expensive approach. You should carefully consider all the following media and focus on those that fit your budget and reach your target audience. The medium is the method by which the message is delivered to your potential clients. They might include:

  • Billboards
  • Booking agents
  • Brochures
  • Chamber of Commerce
  • Cooperative Ads
  • Direct Mail
  • Local hunting or shooting clubs
  • Local referrals
  • Local sporting good stores
  • Magazines
  • Newsletters
  • Newspapers
  • Radio
  • Sport shows
  • Telephone book listing
  • Television
  • Trade journals
  • Trade shows
  • Travel agents
  • Video tapes
  • Visitors Bureau
  • Welcome Centers
  • Word-of-mouth referral

The Target Audience

Target audiences are distinct groups or segments of clients that you expect to reach when you employ different marketing strategies. You may decide to target your service based on the characteristics of:

  1. income level
  2. location (in or out-of-state; urban/rural, international)
  3. age
  4. client preference (lodging, level of involvement -- self guided versus guided, experience, etc.)

If you currently have people entering your property without paying (hunters, fishers, wildlife viewers, etc.) you may want to conduct a survey of their interests and ability to pay for services.

Marketing Costs

The cost of marketing for a fee-recreation enterprise will largely depend on the size and type of your operation, the medium you select, and the number of times you repeat any advertisements. New operations typically spend 10-25% of total operational costs on marketing for the first few years. It's important to keep good records about response to specific marketing efforts so you can be more effective. Question or survey all customers about how they found out about your operation. With time and reputation, costs for marketing will be reduced.

The Importance of Public Relations

Public relations are defined as the creation and maintenance of a favorable image. It is part of marketing and advertising, but it goes further. As a landowner, you should always be concerned with your business image. Your public relation goals can range from client's satisfaction with their experience, to acceptance of your operation by neighbors, local community leaders, and the general public. It's worth the effort to foster the support of neighbors, state and federal agencies, local sheriff and law enforcement personnel, citizen groups and your local Chamber of Commerce or Visitors Bureau.

This Fact Sheet was adapted by Desmond Jolly, Cooperative Extension agricultural economist and director, UC Small Farm Program, from the Agri-tourism Workgroup and Resources, Oregon Department of Agriculture.