So what have you guys done when starting up an outdoor guide business? How do you get people to come to you? I just want people to enjoy the outdoors as much as I do.
I think the first thing will be to put yourself out there. Having all these social media stuff at everyone's disposal made this very accessible and competitive. You don't have to be completely different from the rest, you can standout by being genuine. That's what people look for these days.
Another thing is that you have to show them something that'll make them want to be in your shoes. I think Instagram is great for this. Just please be mindful of your pictures. Most recently people tend to want to "go viral" and they endanger themselves or others in the process. (I'm sure that is common sense, but with the amounts of people getting hurt or dying while taking selfies warrant that note of caution)
Good luck on your journey! 🙂
Identify the demographic that you're marketing to. If you're looking to guide a family of various fitness levels on day hikes, it's a lot different than "extreme" technical climbing.
Once you've done that, identify the regional market where people of that demographic have some disposable income (aka "rich people"). If folks are struggling to pay their bills, they are not paying for outdoor guides. Urban dwellers are often looking to get some "nature time" in. Maybe partner with a local lodge or hotel to offer accomodations as part of a package. From community pin up boards to paid advertising, to internet ads, the options are endless. Get interviewed on podcasts. Offer free seminars to corporate organizations regarding the health benefits of being outdoors. REI put together a beautiful booklet on this subject.
Next figure out how to sell to those folks. Identify their needs and market the services to meet those needs. What are they getting for the price of your service? Would you pay for it? Always keep the customers' perspective on your mind. What can you offer that will make them part with their prescious money? Getting your first few clients and working out the unforeseen issues will be initially challenging, sometimes discouraging, and will require commitment to the long-term goal. Once you've got some clients, word of mouth is your best friend.
As with any business, you must continually educate yourself. NOLS and other schools offer plenty of books and classes. Don't forget a business license, liability insurance, first aid training, and necessary permits if guiding on public land.