Choose an Appalachian design firm to tell the story of your Appalachian business.
Avoid Parachute Marketing
Parachute marketing is when a firm goes somewhere and tries to do business without any basic insights about the region. They “parachute into flyover country,” create a campaign that doesn’t tell your brand’s unique story, then quickly leave when they’ve got your money.
An Appalachian-based marketing agency could help develop a brand strategy that is unique to your business and area and catered to your needs. Outside branding agencies may see Appalachia as one homogenous region filled with small towns that are all the same.
Anyone from Appalachia knows Wheeling, WV, and Gatlinburg, TN—while both Appalachian cities—have different cultures and economic climates.
If you’re a business owner, choosing a firm from Chicago or New York may sound like a good idea, but when they don’t understand the region and have no experience working here, they will not be able to tell your story. Additionaly, they won’t understand how to target your specific customers if they see them through the lens of a stereotype. But marketing firms from outside the region often fail to realize how diverse the area is.
Tell Your Unique Story
In reality, the Appalachian area spans roughly 2,000 miles, from Alabama to Canada. It’s home to more than 25 million people. It includes the entirety of West Virginia and parts of 12 other states, including Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.
Appalachia is a mix of cultures that are rich in history. It’s also full of people who’ve had to be resilient because multiple industries have taken advantage of them due to the resource-rich land. You don’t want to hire a marketing firm that has to spend its time—and your money—just learning the basics about your area. And you don’t want to have to spend your effort dispelling negative stereotypes for them. How exhausting!
Local, Appalachian marketing firms understand when a digital marketing campaign is well-advised and when there are better ways of targeting the customers you want to reach. They’ll have experience reaching customers who might not have access to reliable cell service. They’ll also design websites keeping internet speed top of mind.
Understand Economic Development in Your Region
Appalachia has unique economic development challenges. As a region rich in natural resources, much of Appalachia has been treated as an extraction colony: a place where resource barons extract what’s valuable and ship it out-of-state, leaving residents with any clean-up and long-term costs. But Appalachia has so much more to offer than just our natural resources.
Much of rural Appalachia, in particular, has been in a boom-bust economic cycle—with short-term wins buried by long-term losses. A firm with an understanding of the business cycle of your region and all its challenges will serve you best.
Avoid working with agencies that don’t understand your history, business, or local economic climate. People outside of Appalachia often fall prey to stereotypes, missing the big picture of what it means to be Appalachian. The region’s culture is built on things like state and national parks, outdoor recreation, and local arts and crafts. Furthermore, throughout its history, the culture of Appalachia, and our own West Virginia in particular, was enriched by a diversity of immigrants who have become part of our communities. Knowledge of these things makes the difference between an agency that understands and respects this history and one that doesn’t.
The Power of Appalachian Marketing
Who knows your region better than the people who live there? No one. Generally speaking, Appalachian people are hard workers. Many have come from humble beginnings where they thought outside the box to make the most of what they had.
We have 16 national forests, 10 national historical parks, and more than 225 state parks, including the nation’s most-visited national park, The Great Smoky Mountains, and the newest national park, New River Gorge. But we also have large post-industrial cities like Pittsburgh, PA; beautiful, artsy small cities like Asheville, NC; lively cities with an underground music scene like Knoxville, TN; and more.
If you’re considering working with an expensive out-of-state design agency, but they think ramps are just what you use to get on the highway… or that a hot pocket is the same as a pepperoni roll—run! If they don’t know the basic culinary staples that Appalachian culture is built on, you probably already know how to reach your audience better than they do. You’ll be spending big bucks for an inadequate product. Appalachian-based marketing and design agencies like us understand the needs of Appalachian businesses.
You want to work with a design agency that understands where you come from, knows how to help you reach your audience, and can offer unique designs at competitive prices. So contact us, and we’ll help you get your dreams off the ground.