Resurgence in Rural America
Growth, Opportunity & Hard Work
OUTdrive Episode 25 with Scott Benbrook
In this episode of OUTdrive, Cliff visits with Scott Benbrook, Chief Financial Officer of Elliot Management Services Co. An experienced professional in the finance and banking industries, Scott is passionate about growing rural America, one business at a time. In his position, Scott manages and grows a diverse portfolio of real estate, automobile dealerships, restaurants and retail.
Keep reading for key insights from their conversation about the resurgence in rural America, the value of an individualized marketing approach, creating good luck with hard work and more. They also discuss unique opportunities and core values of rural America, as well as the importance of lifelong connections.
Small Business Marketing Strategies
Some of the most integral players in the rural American market are the businesses that operate here. They play an important role in local economies and the employees are often involved community members. Responsible for the management and growth of a variety of businesses, Scott understands the importance of a strong marketing program for sustainable growth.
When asked about different marketing strategies the company uses, Scott explains that efforts are business specific. “In our well-established businesses, it’s being out in front of people and keeping that name recognition alive. We’ve increased signage and advertising of that nature,” said Scott. “With the newer businesses, it’s a newer approach in terms of social media and trying to draw attention to a brand that we’re newly creating, rather than the top-of-mind awareness that people have with familiar brands.”
Scott noted, “The ability that Facebook has to target ads so specific to my interests I think is absolutely incredible.” Scott went on to say, “There are some other things that are happening in marketing right now, like geofencing, that I think are really neat. The idea that I can reach customers that I know have been on my car lot on a Sunday while we’re closed and send them an advertisement that we’ve got great deals on new and used vehicles and invite them to come see us Monday morning is amazing.” Scott continued, “It’s hard to believe this technology exists, but it does. I think there’s certainly a place for it and I think there’s probably a lot of people that need to be taking advantage of things like this that haven’t yet.”
Cliff followed up Scott’s insights about marketing technology saying, “Technology is really driving marketing. Traditional strategies and tactics still work, but finding that mix is what’s most important.” Cliff continued, “The idea of data driving decision making and being able to target so finitely, not only by geography or demographics, but also psychographics and behavior is mind boggling.”
Although new methods are popular, traditional methods prove effective as well. “I think in our area, a lot of the traditional advertising still has a great place,” says Scott. “We’ve used direct mail and seen great results with that. We do email campaigns and I think television still has a place in our market area.”
Regardless of the specific tactics used, Scott and Cliff agree that a strong marketing program is a long-term strategy. You cannot expect to see results overnight, but instead must stay the course, a point that Scott emphasizes. “What is ultimately important to businesses at the end of the day is ‘Did it increase dollars?’ and sometimes that takes time,” he said. “I think when people get involved in a marketing campaign, they need to understand that and really commit themselves to not looking at it month over month, but start thinking about it year over year.”
Understanding that a strong marketing strategy takes time and being committed is vital for business success. Building a strong program requires understanding your audience, staying up to date on current trends, incorporating tried and true methods and staying the course. Having that mindset paired with hard work and dedication will provide results in marketing and almost any area of life.
Rural American Core Values
Rural communities are built upon core values and ideas that are ingrained in almost every individual and business. One of which is opportunity. Scott has lived in rural America his entire life and is no stranger to the value of hard work and the opportunity that it provides.
Scott shared an experience from his childhood, “One thing that makes it home to me is the opportunity I had to grow up in it and the education I got in rural America,” said Scott. “I wouldn’t trade it for anything, growing up in a small school district where all the teachers knew my name.”
The opportunity that rural America provided Scott during his childhood is one of the reasons he still calls it home today. Another reason he loves the rural lifestyle is the pride shown by people. He explains, “Rural America is a place of pride. We all have pride in our towns, our businesses and I think pride in ourselves. We’re all excited to get in and work together and see what the future holds.”
Whether it is building businesses or raising families in rural communities, pride is shown in every corner of rural America. Combining efforts and working toward a common goal delivers exceptional results.
One of the most important core values of rural America is respect for individuals and communities. Scott believes in the importance of respect, which he and Cliff discuss. “With any business dealings and any personal dealings, I have tried to go into it and treat people with the same respect that I would hope to be treated with,” said Scott. “I think that goes a really long way in rural America. I’m sure it has its place in all parts of the world, but I feel like it’s appreciated more in our area.”
Resurgence and Opportunity
Now more than ever, rural America is providing opportunities for those who have lived here their whole lives and those who are new to the lifestyle. These opportunities are accepted and approached with hard work and dedication, leading to a resurgence in rural America.
Looking toward the future of rural communities, Scott shares that he is excited for what’s to come. “I think there’s going to be a resurgence on some level. It’s a great opportunity to get away from the hustle and bustle and noise of the cities and come experience what rural America has to offer,” said Scott. “If you’re from the coasts or big cities right now and you haven’t had a chance to experience rural America, it’s time to get out here and check it out.”
Through every challenge and new opportunity, rural Americans work hard and focus on building relationships with others to achieve a common goal. Speaking from his personal experiences, Scott encouraged others to focus more on building relationships with others and the importance of these connections. “Put down your phone, push away from the computer and visit with people and make connections,” said Scott. “It’s about getting out, talking to people, making meaningful connections and finding ways to work with them to help their business and help your business. That’s how we grow together.”
A passion for growing together is what drives Scott every day as he builds his community one business at a time. Whether it is through a strategic marketing program for a new business or building relationships with others in rural America, working together is integral to the success of businesses and communities everywhere. Hear from Cliff and Scott on these topics and more in this episode of OUTdrive. Check it out!