Peddling To Pedalers

I just returned from a five-day bicycle trip through western Virginia and northeastern Tennessee. The event was hosted by Bike Virginia and attended by 1,800 avid cyclists from across the country.

After a day of struggling up and coasting down some pretty substantial hills we camped on the grounds of local high schools in small to medium-sized towns along the route. Having done similar rides through Ohio, Oregon and New York over the last few years, these trips provide opportunities to experience breathtaking scenery, enjoy local culture, and meet some pretty interesting people from around the world.

After a shower, the next thing on everyone’s mind after setting up camp is food. (Some days the tour covers as much as 100 miles, so calories are not an issue.) On every organized ride I’ve ever been on in the past, local restaurants made sure they had someone around the campgrounds passing out fliers with their menus and directions. The Virginia trip was different: no fliers, no directions. Riders were left to their own ingenuity or consulting with locals to find out the best places to eat.

In addition to providing all the ride itineraries and amenities, it is usually up to the tour organizers to let the local businesses know that a couple of thousand ‘customers’ would be in town for a night or two. Either way, it was a missed opportunity. All it required was a business to invest in the most Either the locals on this trip never got the message or just didn’t care.basic of marketing strategies — a few printed fliers and a couple of high schoolers to pass them out at the campground. Cost? Probably less than $75.

Three years ago a local public official in southern Ohio told me that when the Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure came into his town, cyclists and their families spent close to $100,000 in one day on everything from food to souvenirs.

You certainly shouldn’t need a marketing consultant to give you this advice, but here it goes: Opportunities to brand yourself, sell more, or simply gain a little publicity avail themselves almost daily. Checking newspapers or websites can tell you a lot about what will be happening in your community, events of which you can take full advantage.

So pay attention.

This is basic “Inside The Box Marketing,” a marketing strategy you can implement all by yourself at very little cost. Remember, effective marketing begins at home.

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