This paper explores the ways that two rural counties are marketed, both as locations for enterprise and for tourist appeal. Secondary data sources and expert interviews provide the basis for a comparison of approaches in each case. To analyse marketing communication from the Cornish and Northumbrian tourism and regional development agencies, the Interaction Model of Communication and principles underpinning integrated marketing communications (IMC) are used. The research evaluates the fit of the marketing rhetoric against the perceptions and lived experiences of samples of business owners drawn from each county. A particular focus is apportioned to in-migrant business owners as they have had perceptions of their destination both before and after moving. It is discovered that social factors are highly significant, meaning that place marketers must engage with local communities as well as their external target audiences. This deeper understanding of the ways in which perceptions of place identity and reputation influence decision-making and communication offerings by local marketers, is a valuable insight for the way marketing is undertaken in, and of, rural areas. Beyond marketing, the findings demonstrate the significance of inter-relationships between social and economic influences in the rural economy.