This is not for everyone.
That phrase sounds a little off-putting doesn't it? But also intriguing? It's a bit like when you put up a curtain - people instinctively want to peer behind it.
The opposite is something for everyone which might sound more open but somehow manages to turn people off - it's too bland, too vague.
Humans like intrigue. They like to be on the 'inside track'. Say you have a secret and people want to know what it is. Say you have something that's in short supply, demand increases. Imply something is restricted, perhaps by rolling out a red carpet and rope barrier, and people wish they could be part of whatever's happening.
Telling people that you have something that's "not for everyone" might sound off-putting but actually the reverse is true.
Years ago, I was asked to help promote an area of London that estate agents might describe as 'up and coming'. It was quite a poor area but the local authority wanted to use some of their (well-) hidden charms to attract people to spend money in the area. It had some really interesting, beautiful spots but a lot of ugly areas too. As you arrived at the tube station and looked up and down the road, there were a lot of dilapidated buildings. It's a hard task to make that sort of place attractive.
Contrast that with other areas of London at that time - lots of glitzy promotion of sparkly new buildings and attractions, smart bars and restaurants. How could our area compete? I decided it was far easier to be different, and take the opposite approach.
We didn't use the glossy images that you most often see in tourism promotion. We used honest pictures that did show the beautiful historic buildings but within their context, next door to slightly more dilapidated ones. We also set out to say 'this area isn't for everyone. It will really only suit more intelligent visitors who can look beyond the obvious to see the hidden gems.'
Some people thought we were brave. Others considered us odd or mad. But the honesty and direct approach paid off.
Most people think deep down that they’re quite intelligent and open-minded so we didn’t really put off that many people. Most people are also curious. We started to see a steady upturn in visitors, who were more than willing to explore the lesser known corners, to feel they were the first to discover a hidden gem, to take pictures of the quirkier, less obvious cafes, buildings, and attractions and to share them with their friends. They enjoyed the kudos of being the first to appreciate that corner of London, and happy spread the word to others.
How might this help you promote your business?
By being really specific about the kind of people who're most likely to enjoy what you have to offer, you'll find three things:
1. It's much easier to promote your business and write appealingly about it if you can picture the people you're targeting. You'll use the words they're more likely to use and be more attractive to them. Search engines will love you too.
2. You'll have happier visitors because the ones who come to you are the right ones for your business. They will also tell other people about you, talking to others in their 'tribe' so they'll spread the word on your behalf.
3. You might think that being really specific will restrict opportunities but it does the opposite. You get fewer difficult customers because you've been more specific. Interestingly though, it can help to attract new and different people who don't fit exactly into your target category and market, but who would like to be in that market, people who aspire to be like the people you're attracting.
It can take some courage to move away from something for everyone into not for everyone or only for very lovely people who will be truly appreciate of what you offer but it's well worth it. I challenge you to try right now. Define the people you want, and change the words and images you use in your marketing to appeal directly to them.
Question: what's the quickest, easiest, cheapest way to improve your marketing?
Answer: I'll tell you once you've read a bit more.
OK, I'll tell you now, in case you haven't already guessed from the words above?
Words are powerful things, and cost absolutely nothing.
Choose the right words on your website, in your phone conversations, on social media, in any kind of promotional activity and you'll instantly add power to your marketing.
Many people tell me they're 'not good at writing'. But they never tell me they're not good at speaking. Writing is just making a note of the words you'd like to speak. If you really think you're terrible at writing (few people really are), try using the dictate mode in Word or on your phone.
I'll offer a few tips to help improve your writing in a moment. First, let's consider what I've written above as there a few tips in there.
Question: what's the quickest, easiest, cheapest way to improve your marketing?
Tip: use a question to which the answer is likely to be 'yes' as a headline and to encourage people to read more. Don't overdo it though!
Tip: Trigger words like 'quick, easy, cheap' grab attention. Think about the words you could use to grab attention among the visitors you want to reach. Everyone's trigger words will be different. They might include words like 'peace', 'child-friendly'... What are yours?
Answer: I'll tell you once you've read a bit more.
Tip: Short sentences are more powerful than long ones
Tip: You can use words to engage people and get them to pay attention. If you directly ask people to do something, often they will
More writing tips:
1. Before you start to write anything, think: what is your key message for that piece of writing? What one thing do you need to get across? Start from that point.
2. Just write. Write rubbish, write the wrong words, but keep writing. Any writer will tell you that they almost always write more than one draft. Write, refine, write, refine. Once you've started to write, the words will flow. Once you've written them, you can decide which words really matter.
3. Keep it short. Shorter sentences have more impact. Which are the most important words? Keep them, then look at how you can cut down everything else you've written.
4. Get rid of over-used, meaningless words. These bland expressions should be banned from your marketing:
5. Be memorable. I know that the points listed under no 4 sound bossy. I also know that over the next few weeks I'll bump into readers who will tell me they're stopped using those words and that they've remembered what I've said. You also need to find a way to be memorable and distinctive.
6. Use the words and style that get the most attention. Which would make you book?:
“All our bedrooms are individually designed and have en-suite facilities” or “You’ll be able to relax and unwind in one of our comfortable bedrooms".
'You' is much more powerful than 'we'. Turn sentences round to make them stronger.
7. Remember FAB. FAB stands for Features, Advantages, Benefits. Features tell, benefits sell. Most people write more about the features than the benefits. That's the wrong way round! Let's take the example of a play area.
Features: adventure playground, maze etc. Features are the components of the product or service.
Advantages: making this product/service better than another. E.g. safety award for playground, novel design
Benefits: what the features and advantages actually mean for the person buying or using the service or product.
If we were trying to promote this play area to a stressed parent we might write something like: 'sit and relax for a few moments while your children use some of their surplus energy on xx, enjoying the aaa, bbb, ccc.
8. And another thing. Remember those rules you learnt at school? Don't start a sentence with And or But? Every sentence needs a verb? You're allowed to break the rules. No one will arrest you. And breaking the rules can be really effective and attention-grabbing. But you knew that anyway!
I'll be back with some more writing tips in another post soon.
Do I have special magical powers? Am I a witch? These were the questions a young girl asked me around this time last year.
Her eyes were shining and her face was a picture of wonderment. She thought she was too old to believe in magic but as far as she was concerned I'd just performed a trick that involved mind reading, persuasion and making money. A powerful combination.
Yes, once again you're wondering why I'm telling this odd story. Bear with me - there's a lesson here for all of us, that could really change your business for the better. You don't need to believe in magic spells, just the power of a good target.
Every year at the end of September I spend 2 days volunteering at the Masham Sheep Fair, selling programmes & beautifully designed, themed t-towels in aid of local charities such as Yorkshire Air Ambulance. It's usually cold. It can get a bit boring. Last year I was helped by Ellie, a 12 year old I hadn't met before. She was keen but dispirited when we still had 1/3 of the t-towels left on Sunday afternoon with only 2 hours of the show left. We hadn't sold anything for half an hour.
To cheer her up I said, "I'm going to sell 2 t-towels to one person in 10 minutes, I'm sure of it". Within 10 minutes a woman had come over to buy a t-towel. She hesitated and then decided to get a second one for her sister. Ellie was amazed.
I then said, "next, we're going to sell 3 separate t-towels in 10 minutes to 2 women and 1 man". Exactly that happened.
"Ok", I said, "I'm clearly a witch. So this time I'm going to sell 3 t-towels (unheard of at the show) to 1 person in the next 2 minutes". Along came a woman who bought 2 t-towels. Ellie looked surprised, then pleased then disappointed when she remembered I'd promised to sell 3. We were just about to turn to each other and commiserate when the woman turned round and said, "I've just thought of some one else who'd like one so I'll have a third one please". You can imagine Ellie's face.
At that point, we were starting to get excited. I let Ellie set the target and the time limit for each little milestone. We set a target, we sold, we laughed, we set a target, we sold, we laughed... and with 20 minutes to spare before the event closed we sold the last t-towel, even the dirty ones that had been on display.
"I'll never forget that", said Ellie. I was feeling pretty stunned too. In 32 years of the Sheep Fair, it's very unusual to sell every single t-towel, especially when the weather isn't great.
So what happened? Am I a witch? Possibly, but I think it might be less exciting than that and it could work for you too.
When you set a tangible goal, and then set some milestones and time targets, it's much easier to be successful. Most of the time we just drift. When we really set our minds to it, we can truly make a difference.
I often ask business owners if they've set a revenue target (or any other target) for the coming year. I'd say only around 30% ever do. When I ask why not, there are several reasons but one of the underlying ones is fear. Setting an ambitious target might sound boastful (even though no-one else need know!). You might not feel very good if you don't reach the target (but by setting one you'll at least be able to aim higher than usual?). Some businesses set targets but don't review them. Very few actually set targets, break them down by month or week, and then set themselves mini targets with milestones for action, reviewing activity each month. Can you guess what happens to those businesses that do exactly that?
Yes, it must be magic because the businesses I've worked with that do set targets, break them down into more achievable mini-goals with concrete action points are most successful. They're focused and motivated. There's even more magic in the air - I've noticed those business owners don't even necessarily work harder, but they focus on what's worth doing and have real clarity for their actions, not bothering with time-wasting activities.
Are you ready to say 'Abracadabra!' to make your business better? Join me in the Tourism Knowhow facebook group or add comments below, and motivate yourself and others, setting some public goals (you don't have to give full details) to make yourself more accountable - and more successful.
This doesn't just have to be about setting financial targets. I know that I have some weeks when I'm much more productive than others. The thing that makes the biggest difference to me is having a very clear plan for the week/month with definite goals I want to achieve. And I'm more likely to achieve them when I've told others about them.
So I'll tell you about my goals for the next six months. Over the coming few weeks I'm going to be adding more and more content to this website. I'm creating a series of business support tools, workshops and packages which any tourism business will be able to access - a combination of free and paid versions. In a couple of weeks I'll give more details about what these will include. Over to you...
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Please note: all articles are copyrighted Susan Briggs