"Buy one, get one free!". Sound familiar? Of course it does: price led promotions are everywhere.
Show the world you're desperate
Years ago marketing tactics like this were less usual. They had more impact. Now they're the norm. There's a place for them, but more often than not, price promotions are lazy marketing, a not very imaginative way to show the world that your business isn't doing so well and you're desperate for trade.
Some people think they raise awareness of particular products but how can they do that when the market is saturated with them? When the 2-1 offer says nothing about the product itself. Price led promotions don't really help build a longer term market. Much of the time, they just focus the mind on the price instead of the benefits of the product or service.
Leaving money on the table...
What also happens is that visitors use the vouchers and offers when they were going to come to you anyway. Last weekend 3 friends and I had planned a visit to an art gallery, for which we were all perfectly willing to pay. Then someone noticed that if we took along our train tickets, we could get a 2-1 voucher for the entrance fee to the gallery. So we paid half the price we were willing to pay. Of course some people may be enticed into places for the first time because the price is lower than usual. It might help them decide to go. But will they go there again at the higher price? Or will they value it at the lower offer price?
Are 2-1 promotions ever good?
Sometimes. When they're properly thought through and not simply a knee-jerk reaction. When you want to open up new markets e.g. bring a friend who's never been before (doesn't always work though!) and when you've worked out how you'll follow through and build that new market. Attractions where there are opportunities to generate secondary spend through catering and retail may also benefit from getting more people in through the door with a discounted promotion. But don't let that be your first thought.
What are the alternatives?
2-1 offers may work some of the time, but they are unimaginative and it's hard to make an impact now there are so many.
Far better, to do something quirky, unusual, fun, interesting that helps demonstrate the emotional appeal of what you offer, that shows what you can do and why it's good.
If you rely on price promotions, it focuses visitors' minds on the price not the strength of the product. It encourages them to shop around instead of valuing what you do. And once you've reduced your price once, what happens next time? How low can you go?
"Sense of place" and "local distinctiveness" are two phrases we increasingly hear in tourism marketing. What do they really mean? I first started using local distinctiveness in tourism marketing activities in the last century (!) but it seems for many these ideas are only just coming to the fore.
Major landmarks and famous sights can mark one place out against another but it’s not just big features that are important. Our impressions are formed through so many other aspects of an area’s character.
Local distinctiveness is what makes one place different from another. It’s the combination of aspects that makes each place special. It’s the essential details, large and small, natural and man-made, that combine to create a sense of place.
Normal for you - extraordinary for others
Features that you take for granted aren't necessarily obvious to everyone. They might be special and extraordinary for some visitors.
Visitors are certainly changing. There’s growing interest in all things ‘local’. Visitors want to understand more, to experience places in different ways and to meet “real” people. They are ready to buy locally made products. They want to do as well as see.
Visitors are increasingly interested in anything that helps them understand and appreciate the essential character of a place. Today’s visitors are looking for ‘something different’ from their normal life. They look for places with ambience, atmosphere and soul. They welcome in-depth experiences, opportunities to participate and chances to meet local people.
Offering a different type of information
Traditionally we’ve offered visitors lists and directories containing lots of information. The focus has been on covering everything, being neutral and leaving visitors to make their own decisions. This no longer works. Visitors increasingly use social media and websites like TripAdvisor for second and third opinions.
Visitors want insider tips and specific ideas for things to do. They've started to shy away from "official" in favour of more in-depth, personal recommendations.
Think about the information you offer your visitors, both when they’re with you and before they visit on your website. Visitors enjoy knowing more, being given information on your favourite places. We’ve moved on from loving all things “local” to wanting to know more, to hearing the full story behind products and places.
Beware of overwhelming visitors. They don’t want to plough through long lists. Phrases like “so much to see and do” can be meaningless and over-used. What is there to see and do? Far better to offer curated content and carefully chosen ideas than bland phrases or a long list. Show your passion for your area, demonstrate your local knowledge. Visitors will want to come to learn and find out more from you.
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Please note: all articles are copyrighted Susan Briggs