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Seven business owners and employees crowded in the corner of Purcellville’s Bush Tabernacle on Friday morning to participate in a seminar on marketing small businesses to ideal tourists.

The Small Business Week program was hosted by the Purcellville Economic Development Advisory Committee and the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce and orated by Kris Brinker, the chief creative officer for the Ocean 5 Strategies marketing firm. It was one of 14 special business events held across the county this week, and the only one geared toward attracting tourists.

Those in attendance included the editor of Leesburg Lifestyle Magazine, Old Ox Brewery’s marketing coordinator, the Waterford Fair director, Bluemont Vineyard’s hospitality and special events coordinator, a representative from Leesburg’s Church of the Holy Spirit and the owner of Herndon’sElden Street Tea Shop.

Brinker’s discussion centered on a list of steps intended to help business owners develop and distribute appropriate content and realize success.

She began by underlining how important it is for business owners to develop a strategy before anything else so they know what their goals are and don’t end up wasting time. She compared strategy development to a person playing darts without knowing which version of the game they’re playing or which numbers on the dart board they should be aiming for.

“Don’t do anything without a strategy,” she said. “It’s going to tell you what your goal is … what are we measuring, what does success look like.”

Brinker told attendees that the next step in their marketing strategy should be to develop buyer personas that allow them to examine the desires of individual customers, rather than tourists as an all-encompassing group. She said the business owners should come up with names and faces for different buyer personas to get an understanding for who those people might be and what they might want. “We’re not just marketing to tourists, we’re also marketing to very specific individuals,” she said.

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Brinker also outlined strategies for identifying a company’s “three uniques,” or three aspects that separate it from other similar businesses. “Different people are going to go to different places for different reasons,” she said.

She gave an example of a winery that has a designated area where guests with children are required to sit. She said it’s practices like those that differentiate one business, or winery, from the next.

From there, Brinker told attendees that the content development stage is “one of the hardest and time consuming” parts of marketing and that, even if a business owner hires someone to develop content for them, they’ll still end up spending a good amount of time helping their contractor get a better feel for the business.

Brinker also noted that attendees should rethink their company websites and implement tools to measure what web visitors are looking at most. She said it’s important to get website visitors’ email addresses to add onto email campaign lists or to reach out to them personally.

She also stressed the importance of having mobile-friendly websites, since Google has the power to restrict websites from not showing up in searches if they’re not mobile friendly. “Unfortunately, Google rules the world and we just have to play that game,” she said.

Brinker ended the seminar with an offer from Ocean 5 Strategies to look at attendees’ business websites to determine what they might be in need of. She said her firm would examine the websites on seven points, including search engine optimization, lead generation and traffic analysis.

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Loudoun’s Small Business Week wraps up today with a Loudoun Entrepreneurial Women’s Business Seminar at the Loudoun County Area on Aging from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and with the Visit Loudoun Annual Tourism Awards at The National from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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A group of seven business owners and representatives listen in on a talk about marketing to tourists. [Patrick Szabo/Loudoun Now]

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