“You cannot bore people into buying your product you can only interest them in buying it…” David Ogilvy
As with anything in marketing, your journey starts with the person you’re trying to sell to – your customer. This defines everything: what you’re selling, where you’re selling it, how you’re selling it and even when you’re selling it.
Without a target market, you have no sales so it makes sense then that defining your customer, followed by where you are likely to reach them, are the first steps when defining a marketing strategy for your travel company.
Now you know who you’re trying to reach, and you know where they ‘play’ – it’s time to clean house and that entails figuring out what makes you different to your competitors. Why would I buy from Travel Company A vs Travel Company B? Are you selling the same destinations? The same services? What is your Unique Selling Point?
As a departure point, a SWOT Analysis is usually a good way to determine your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats so that you can define what makes you different – your unique hook that your customers will find valuable and prompt them to work with you instead of your competitors. It will show you how to best market your travel company.
Remember, if you are promising your customer certain things in your marketing message, it is essential that your brand promise is what they will experience when engaging with your brand. If you buy a particular brand, you are buying that promise of efficiency, innovation, credibility, etc… This is why it is so important to get your house in order before you invite people to attend your party so that they are not disappointed when they arrive and leave.
Now that you know who you want to invite, where to send their invitation and that your house is spick and span, you can invite your customers to attend in the places you know you’ll find them. That generally includes such platforms as social media, online media, the mainstream press, and through your community and partners, among others.
If you think of a bicycle wheel: Your website and office become the hub to which you will direct all your traffic and your marketing tactics become the spokes. By marketing tactics, you could use an email newsletter which directs readers to your website and special packages; a Facebook post that takes your visitor to a contact us page; or even an advert on Google that directs to a blogpost on why you’re the best travel company in town.
Although ad hoc campaigns are always going to be running due to last-minute availability, deals that suppliers send through and peak demand, it is best to have a basic framework for the year – probably quarterly – where you define a theme, e.g. Cruising and related target market, message, branding and platforms these will be rolled out on.
Lastly, marketing is all about measurability. Whatever you do, ensure that you do as much ‘testing’ as you can to see where the sweet spot lies, e.g. What’s the best day of the week and time to send a newsletter or post something on social media? How long should it be? What are the calls to action that work best?