My early recollections of the world of brands and business have to do with the companies with which a five year old first has contact. I can remember that Esso put a tiger in our tank and that my Keds tennis shoes would make me run a little faster and jump a little higher. The personality of many companies had to do with their cartoon mascots whether that was Mr. Clean , Green Giant or a leprechaun whose marshmallows were lucky charms.
Those were the days recalled by “Mad Men.” Brand identity and communications then were pretty much a one-way communication from the company to the public. The brand delivered information to the public through television or through the newspapers and we accepted pretty much what ever we were told. Those might have been simpler times, but I think perhaps a bit naïve and not as interesting as today.
I often encounter a mindset that sees marketing as an expense. I suppose from the perspective of an accountant, that is absolutely accurate. However, in reality marketing should be viewed as an investment. Think of it this way: marketing is only expensive if it’s not working. If you made 5 dollars every time you spent two marketing dollars you would be spending money all day and be happy about it. Ideally, marketing is an investment.
We all live within the constraints of a budget. There are many good things to be said about marketing on a shoestring, on choosing strategies that are smart and that work. Today, however, we are going to talk about avoiding turning our shoestrings into nooses – making mistakes with our marketing dollars that, like bad investments, are nothing but expensive errors.
I admit to being one of the few people who liked The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty. The movie is a reminder of the importance of travel to the human psyche. Travel is not just a mechanical act of movement from one point to another. On occasion, it helps to be reminded of this small and obvious truth: travel is often an outward expression of something happening internally.
Personally, I am a fan of interesting tattoos. I know that is not necessarily a shared preference. Body art is not for everyone and please do note my preference: interesting tattoos. I have certainly been exposed, to use a phrase, to some very bad tattoos.
If you have an interest in a tattoo, I suggest you heed this bit of advice: this is no time to choose an artist based on the lowest price. You don’t want a tattoo that looks like prison art (unless, of course, you were actually in prison) and you don’t want one that looks like your six year old’s rendition of Woody Woodpecker (unless, of course, the tattoo is your six year old’s rendition of Woody Woodpecker). I could go on but I think you get my drift: this is no time to save a few dollars.
I know I have chosen a risky metaphor here, stick with me a bit.
If you are going to get a tattoo, one thing is certain: a bit of research pays off. Think about the message. Think about the design. Think about your mother. Think.
You probably know that fewer than 10% of your followers on Facebook are going to see any of your business page posts. The organic reach on Facebook continues to decline. The Facebook algorithms are getting more restrictive yet many business page owners are surprised by their low engagement rates. The surprise partly stems from their experience with their personal Facebook profile which always generates commentary and "Likes". However, the algorithms controlling the visibility of personal posts are completely different from those controlling business pages.
In a personal service business like travel consulting, it is easy to forget the importance of fundamental marketing techniques and concepts. One such neglected topic is the art of visual merchandising – developing the visual creative to accompany your advertisements, proposals, presentations and other client communications to enhance their appeal. Properly done, visual merchandising makes it easier to engage both the client’s emotional responses to your presentations and their intellectual understanding of your offer.
"Is marketing on Facebook really necessary to my travel practice?" The answer is a resounding "No!" There are many different ways for anyone to market their travel practice and Facebook is only one possible vehicle.
But there is a really good reason for marketing on Facebook every travel consultant should consider: Facebook is where the people are.
Facebook has more than 1.86 billion active users who visit the venue at least once a month. Of those, 1.26 billion visit Facebook daily. Those are absolutely staggering numbers. There are times when I have my doubts about the longevity of Facebook, but with such high current activity levels it is very difficult to ignore the potential. Consider this - do you know more people who use Facebook or who do not? How many people do they know? The possibilities for expanding your circle of influence are large.
The value of a web site for a travel professional is real. Many continue to operate without a web site and even if they have one, without due consideration for basic design and marketing principles. However, consumers expect business operators to have a web site and the real question is more often the role the website will play in the overall marketing plan of the travel agency. An ASTA report titled Technology & Website Usage revealed some travel professionals using a Facebook page in lieu of a website indicating a degree of confusion about the role of both a Facebook page and a website in a marketing strategy. It's worthwhile to again consider the role of a website in marketing your travel practice.
People have always shared their travel dreams and adventures with others. Early on, travel magazines, brochures, home movie projectors and Polaroids were the media of choice. Now, the game has gone digital, but the themes are largely the same: “I love to travel and I know you do too. Where should I go next? What should I do? What should I see?”
In fact, travel appears to be one of the six most discussed topics on social media. This tells us if we do our marketing well we can generate thousands, even hundreds of thousands of enthusiastic followers, evangelists all. Of course, if we do it poorly we can spend a lot of money and time only to decide marketing doesn’t work.
A web site is a great marketing tool for your travel agency – if anyone can find it. Let's discuss how to drive traffic to your site and how to properly cross pollinate with your other marketing efforts, combine it with a bit of search engine marketing and throw in some good social media techniques as well. Soon, you will be driving more high quality traffic to your website and getting a better return from your website investment.