Developing A Marketing Plan
a ition Fo
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 which 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 experiences 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.
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.
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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 mediums 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:
Newspapers Local sporting good stores
Local hunting or shooting clubs
Telephone book listings
Chamber of Commerce
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:
• income level
• location (in or out-of-state; urban/rural, international)
• 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.
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 is 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 visitor bureau.
Agri-Tourism Workbook 84 Agri-Business Council of Oregon
Adapted from the Agri-tourism Marketing Plan Workbook, Market Advantage, 1997
Questions often force us to look at issues we might otherwise overlook. A situation analysis is a fundamental step in the “soul
searching” that lays the foundation of your marketing plan. Here are some probing questions to help utilize the suggestions and tools
in this section:
Management Philosophies: Describe any values, philosophies, or policies (written or unstated) that might influence your choice of
marketing strategies. For example, do you like spending time with young children? Is “entertainment farming” your cup of tea? How
much time do you have to devote to this type of enterprise? How much time do you have to spend with guests during the peak
Decision Making: Does your organization collect accurate, objective information about its customers, competitors, and marketing
environment? Does the organization have record keeping system in place that allows the development of sound strategies and the
ability to evaluate their effectiveness? Is there an able person assigned to analyze, plan, and implement the marketing work of the
Human Resources: Does the organization have enough manpower to ensure that guests’ needs are met, even during peak farming
seasons? Are temporary employees readily available to meet the short-term, emergency needs? Do employees know that “the
customer is always right”? Are employees trained and empowered to provide guests with high-quality experiences?
Financial Resources: Does the organization have the capital needed to build or improve the guest facilities? Does the organization
have the capital needed to operate at a loss until break even occurs?
Product/Service: Your product is everything you offer to satisfy customers’ needs—the features, optional services, quality, style,
name, packaging, length of service, price, etc. In what ways is your product better than other options available to the customer? What
do customers think of your facility, personnel and services? Are product improvements planned?
Putting it All Together
1. Identify and describe the target market.
2. Decide on the Market Position—the positive idea that you want prospects to associate strongly with your business name. Keep it
short and simple, descriptive of some benefit to the customer, and different from your competitors.
3. Decide on market expenditure level. Most established businesses spend 15-25% of gross sales on marketing. For start-ups, it may be
significantly higher than that. A good rule of thumb is that expenditures during introduction should be twice the rate currently spent by
competitors who have market shares equal to your organization’s objectives.
4. Develop the marketing mix. The marketing mix is the blend of tools that an organization will use to achieve its objectives with a
target market. The tools, referred to earlier as “The Four Ps,” include produce, price, place and promotion. The elements of your
marketing mix must be integrated so they work with, not against, one another.
“Selling is getting rid of what you have. Marketing is making sure you have what you can sell. The aim of marketing is to know the
customer so well that the product fits him and sells itself.”
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Marketing = the Four Ps
Frequency of Service
Part of marketing is identifying the mix of “Ps” that makes your service unique. This is also called your marketing mix. The next step
is to shape your marketing mix and position them so as to create a unique identity for your business that attracts and retains customers.
Your market position is one or more selected benefits or features that makes you unique and different. The steps here include:
• Identify your target market.
• Determine what the target consumer desires.
• Assess whether you have any advantages over your competition in delivering the desired service.
• Choose the position that is most valued by the consumer.
Possible Positions for Marketing Your Operation:
1. The feature that makes your product or service different than the offerings of competing attractions (e.g., a restaurant on an organic
farm, a B&B on an exotic animal farm, a cornfield maze at a u-pick produce stand, etc.)
2. The length of time your organization has been in business (e.g., a family-run farm for over a century).
3. The unique people involved in your operation (e.g., clinics by a nationally-renowned horse trainer, entertainment by a cowboy poet,
home cookin’ by a country fair blue-ribbon winner, etc.)
4. Your location (e.g., in the heart of prime bird watching habitat, within an hour of the Pacific ocean, far off the beaten path, etc.).
5. The size of your operation (e.g., a small, intimate inn on a working ranch; a 120,000 acre cattle ranch, etc.).
6. The benefits of your product or services (e.g., catch the romantic spirit of the West, restful solitude and tranquility, fulfill a
childhood dream, guaranteed catch or wildlife sightings, etc.).
7. The services of your organization (e.g., outdoor recreation for young singles).
8. Your price (e.g., an affordable family adventure).
9. Your reputation (e.g., featured in Northwest’s Best Places to Stay)
10. The lifestyle-defining aspect of your offering (e.g., escape the ordinary, edge of danger rock climbing, etc.).
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