Country Meadows Receives Marketing Help From SCORE
Many aspiring entrepreneurs dream of running successful small businesses from their homes. Harriett McFeeley has taken the concept one step further, turning her family’s 2.5-acre property in Hastings, Nebraska, into Country Meadows, a beautiful location for staging weddings, family gatherings and other special events.
Over the years, Harriett and her husband, Dick, planted numerous trees, created intricate rock and flower gardens, and added several water features such as ponds, waterfalls and a stream around their family home. In 1999, friends began asking Harriett if they could “borrow” her unique garden for social events. Suddenly, the opportunity to start a business became clear.
“I’d been frantically searching for some kind of home-based business because I could no longer work outside the home and properly care for my ailing mother,” Harriett says. “This was definitely the answer to a prayer.” Harriett adds that while she had no business plan, no finances and no business management experience, “I did the only thing I could do—open the doors and go to work.”
Country Meadows began attracting customers, but Harriett and Dick knew that more people needed to know about their special oasis. Learning about marketing was one of their motivations to enroll in a SCORE-sponsored small business workshop in 2003. “The publicity element was very important because we don’t have a large budget for advertising,” Harriett says. “Most people find out about us through word-of-mouth.”
Central Nebraska SCORE Mentors Bob Portwood and Jim Svoboda, both of whom had backgrounds in marketing and retail sales, subsequently met with the McFeeleys to develop business and marketing plans, identify their trade area and target audience, and provide cost-effective ideas for enhancing Country Meadows’ visibility.
Portwood and Svoboda also provided suggestions for Country Meadows’ logos and slogans such as “Let us simply amaze you!” and “The Perfect solution for your Unique Event.” “Bob and Jim offered positive, helpful, practical advice whenever we needed it,” Harriett says. “They also gave us a lot of referrals—something that we really appreciated.”
Harriett is confident that more people will be able to enjoy the special Country Meadows experience, thanks in large part to the help she received from SCORE. “Bob and Jim really knew what they were talking about,” she says. “They had worked in marketing their entire careers, yet were happy to take time from retirement sharing advice and ideas with us.”