1. Don’t spread yourself too thinly. If you’ve got a limited marketing budget, it pays to focus on a couple of specific markets and then to ripple your efforts outwards instead of trying to target everyone at once.
2. Segment your markets carefully – don’t rely on age or income as determinants. Life stage, life style and personal values are more reliable but remember people change their needs depending on who they’re with & even the time of day.
3. Be sure of who you are. What do you stand for? What do you want people to think about you? Make sure that image is reflected everywhere you can – on your stationery, in your brochure, on your website, on signage, staff uniforms or badges etc. Carefully choosing (and sticking to) the right colours and typefaces can help you convey the right message.
4. Be clear about what you do and do it well. Have a clear and focused identity. For example, you could be the place to take a family, or for stressed city dwellers to relax, or for active breaks.
5. Use a strong emotional appeal. How can you do one of these: make people happier, healthier, more beautiful, more loved, or richer?
6. Don’t assume budgets are the barrier. They sometimes are, but not always. Remember sometimes people don’t buy because they’re suspicious, especially if the price seems unusually low, or sometimes they just need to know more about what you're offering.
7. Often people don’t buy because they don’t understand what you’re offering, or more importantly, don't see what the benefits are to them.
8. Follow through. A customer research survey found that that 19% of businesses didn’t respond to email enquiries. 25% found that phones were engaged or went to voicemail. Don’t spend money on marketing and then waste it with bad follow up service.
9. Do your customers have a problem you can solve? Are they tired, stressed, in need of a change? Find a problem, offer a solution and you’re on to a winner.
10. Write in language real people understand. Get rid of the jargon. Make your sentences shorter. Add a touch of humour. Sound like you’re a human!
11. Avoid over-used expressions. How “unique” is unique? What does “something for everyone” actually mean?
12. Don’t forget the cheapest, most effective marketing tool – word of mouth. Build a buzz by doing something that’s talked about and exceeding customer expectations.
13. What is memorable about your business and what you offer? What do you do to help people remember you and recommend you to others?
14. We say first impressions count, but last impressions last. What do you do to create a positive lasting impression that encourages recommendations?
If you're in the UK, you'll have noticed a cooler breeze and sense that Autumn is on its way. This is when many tourism business owners and managers decide to hibernate, to collapse in an exhausted heap and be glad they don't have to put on their happy face for visitors until next Spring.
Others take the time to wonder what they could have done to generate more business over the past few months and how they can make the off-season more profitable.
A question: who do you think is most likely to walk furthest, in the fastest time and get fittest?
a) the group with the right walking boots, a planned route, a proper map and a really good lunch; or
b) the group who decide to set off on their walk on the spur of the moment with little else other than enthusiasm, and willingness to see where their path will take them?
The spontaneous wanderers might enjoy their outing but they're also likely to get hungry en route, waste time getting lost and meet barriers on the way - and they're not really sure where they're going.
The better prepared group have done everything they can to increase their chances of arriving at their final destination and being able to celebrate their achievement.
Why am I using this analogy? I meet a lot of business owners and managers who tell me they want 'more business'. When I ask them how much more, the answer is 'more'.
When I ask when they want more business, the answer is often 'all the time, but especially off-peak'
When I ask what they think they need to do to get more business, their answer is usually 'more marketing', often with the proviso that they don't want to spend too much. There's nothing wrong with these responses, but they're so vague the chances of these businesses owners ever celebrating reaching their chosen destination is slim. They haven't really decided on their destination. Like the spontaneous wanderers, they're basing their business plans more on hope than a carefully chosen route.
I've found that after three decades working in marketing, I can help almost any business to find new ways to market themselves or find new markets or make their business better in some way. Most of the time they can achieve quite a lot simply by implementing practical advice I give them. That's one of the great satisfactions of doing what I do. But is it enough?
A few tweaks may be enough for some businesses but I don't think it's enough for most.
I feel increasingly frustrated by how many businesses are effectively leaving money on the table, running themselves ragged and actually restricting their income. Why?
It's not because they don't want to earn more, or make their marketing more efficient.
It's because they're not brave enough to set targets for their business.
Some will claim it's down to lack of time, but the reality is that they've not taken the decision to invest a couple of hours to plan the future of their business to make life easier later.
Why do you need to be brave to set targets for your business? For many it is bravery that's required: it's making quite a dramatic step forward. It's making a commitment to yourself, saying you believe your business will still be here in years to come. It's being a proper grown up, daring to believe in yourself and the dream of your business.
A couple of weeks ago I had an email from a business owner outlining all she'd achieved over the past few years and suggesting what she'd like to do next. She ended her email asking, "am I being too ambitious? Do you think it's right to think I can do this?" Of course she wasn't being too ambitious. Unless you're planning to trample over others, is it really possible to be too ambitious for your business?
For some reason a lot of business owners doubt their ambition. It's almost as if someone somewhere has set out some rules about what we're allowed to believe about ourselves and we're scared of breaking them. There are no rules! You're allowed to think big. It's good to identify what your'e trying to achieve.
Occasionally I meet someone who tells me exactly what they'd like to achieve, by when. They've determined a clear target for success, and just need advice on what to do to reach it. Such business owners are not only more successful, they tend to spend less time agonising about what they're doing and they don't waste money on the 'wrong' marketing. I've often found the only difference between them and other less successful businesses is that they've actually taken the time to think about their business and their targets. Seriously, it can be that easy.
So now's your opportunity. Use these quieter months to give your marketing and business some oomph, by being much more intentional about what you'll do to improve.
It's easy to get started. You can do it right now. Just answer a few questions:
Don't just think about them, spend a bit of time thinking about your answers and write them down. Then all you need to do is work out what actions you'll take to reach those targets.
I'm hoping to be able to help you with that too, and am currently working on a step-by-step 'system' to help you reach those goals. More on that later...
I love September. It's a fresh new start after the summer, full of promise. A bit like January, but with better weather!
When I come back to my desk in September I feel refreshed and full of ideas. It's a time when I make sort-of-resolutions, making plans for the coming months.
But there's often one key frustration.
How can we make progress, when there are so many jobs to be done, and we barely have time to think?
Over the Summer I did have time to think and I hope I've got some answers to this perennial problem for small tourism businesses.
Most of us have something we want to do to make our business better. It might be improving our marketing, developing new products or making some physical changes. The problem is there's always something else claiming our attention. When you run a small business, you probably find that you focus on the 'must do' jobs before the 'want to do' or the 'do now for an impact later' jobs. There's always something that's urgent and needs your attention. Some of the jobs we feel we have to get done aren't particularly important but there's a sense of urgency about them. They so easily distract from making any real progress and taking our business forward.
I think I've found an answer!
In fact, I have three solutions to the problem of not making progress when you barely have time to think. I've tested each of them over the last year or so and they've really worked well.
Before I tell you, think of a project you want to undertake, something you want to achieve or make better and keep it in your mind as we go. I'll refer to this below as your 'progress'. Read to the end for details of how I'm putting all this into practice.
Running your own business is wonderful. In theory you get to be in charge of your time and exactly what you do. The reality is that we're all accountable to our clients so we bend over backwards to please them and that doesn't leave any time left for us to make progress. Making progress on our big project is always in the future, never something we work on right now.
At the same time most of us like to do what we say we'll do. So the first thing we need to do is announce our project. What are you planning to do to make progress in your business? Who can you tell? It's helpful to set a date and give some details as part of the move to make yourself stick to your plan.
I have a concrete example of this. For years I've planned to write a blog but other things got in the way. At the beginning of the year I announced online that I was going to write a daily blog, which I also share via a facebook page. I was quite specific, telling people about what I was going to do, when and where. Since then I've been extremely busy with other work and there have often been times when I struggled (writing a blog next to a family member in hospital was a low point) but I've kept going. I'm not sure what I think would happen if I didn't do this but now I've announced it, I feel accountable so I keep doing it.
It takes guts to announce what you're planning to do, but the courage you'll need is far less than the frustration of not making progress month after month!
I have another announcement to make at the end of this article!
2. Create a habit
An important part of making progress in your plans is to keep moving forward by doing something. Even doing something small but consistently is worthwhile. Thinking and planning aren't enough. You have to create a habit, and focus on taking tiny steps that together add up to real progress. You might think that you need to clear a big chunk of time to make progress but that's rarely feasible.
It's much more effective to create a habit and to do something for less time, more frequently. This is why the daily practice of writing my blog works. Over time I'm building thousands of words of new content which is satisfying and has already reaped rewards in terms of web traffic.
Doing something consistently is important to build credibility and generate rewards that spur you on to greater efforts. I have found that whether it's writing a blog, consistently posting on social media, or sending out regular (with emphasis on regular e.g. at set times) mailings really makes a big difference. I don't have any more time than before but since I've established regular habits to do certain things I've found I'm somehow found time by becoming much more focused on the achievement of the regular habit. In turn each of those regular activities has paid dividends by building followers, response rates and sales conversions which has encouraged me to keep going towards my goals.
Running a small business can mean that you need to keep a firm handle on costs. I've often hesitated to invest in my business, whether it was buying time-saving software or going to a conference where I might learn something useful.
Making a concrete decision to invest both time and money in my business has been fruitful. I've wasted hours downloading free software or templates etc that I've never used properly but when I've spend money it's forced me to follow up and use the advice or software I've bought.
Over the past few years the combination of public funding and the internet has meant that there is no shortage of free courses and information. But this hasn't led to significant improvements in marketing or business success.
I think this is because there has to be a little pain, in terms of investment, to make you think about what you're doing and really leap forward. If you really want to make progress, you know you need to invest time, money or both. It can be worthwhile taking advantage of free advice, going to free workshops and events. But the ones you pay for will be much more effective - once you've opened your wallet, you'll be much more willing to put advice into action, to make real progress. Commitment, in terms of money or minutes, makes a big difference.
Look out for...
At the beginning of this article I said I'd made some decisions and some sort-of-resolutions. By setting them out below, I'm using my own advice. You'll be able to see over the following weeks how effective it is!
Here's my new announcement:
Every week I will write a tourism marketing blog on this site. Over the next six months I'm investing my time and money to launch a series of new ways for you to invest your time and money in your business. Watch this space for details of online and live workshops, advice and business support packages! My ambition is to create the UK's best source of tourism marketing advice and support.
The first step will be to offer a sample online marketing workshop. It's a sample session which sets the scene for others so this initial one will be free, but you'll need to invest some time to complete it. Details will be available next week!
Are you missing out on an opportunity for some mainstream media coverage?
A Guardian travel journalist recently told me it's incredibly hard for them to find good UK tourism stories for publications such as the weekend supplements.
Yes I know! Hard to imagine!
Most tourism businesses want free coverage in credible publications. So why is it hard for journalists to feature you?
The problem is: journalists love anything that is new or different. And yet, new businesses are often so focused on getting ready, they fail to tell people what they’re doing. Or do so when they're no longer new so they miss out on initial publicity.
Those of you who have had your business for a while are probably thinking you need a shiny new building to justify a mention in a newspaper story. Not so.
Journalists want something that sounds new. It doesn’t have to be an expensive building. It could just be a new package, a new angle, a new experience. Sometimes it’s just a question of being imaginative. Developing something that appeals to a niche market is bizarrely appealing to mass media.
I remember a BBC Radio 4 programme and several press articles about a hotel that offered chances to play scrabble with strangers.
Another example was an agency set up in Germany to offer holidays for people who were suffering from some sort of heart-break. Maybe they really did, maybe they didn’t. As far as the media were concerned, they just wanted to be able to write about something new and different.
So the message is clear: the media want stories, you want media coverage - you just need to dream up a clever idea that sounds new! Simple...
Which-ever social media you use, at first you may feel like you're posting without getting any responses or any new followers.
If you don't have that many followers, how can you get more?
How can you make sure your posts are seen?
How can you engage people on social media and actually interest them in what you do?
Building a good number of followers is important but don't get too hung up on the idea of social media being a 'numbers game'.
You need enough followers to make it worthwhile, but the thing that determines effectiveness is engagement. And engagement affects whether your posts are seen, and how easy you'll find it to build follower numbers... it's all bound up together.
Just to be clear, what do we mean by engagement?
Engagement will depend on the social media channel but generally means getting a follower to do something. This could be as simple as liking a post. It could mean clicking on a link. The best engagement is that which shows a little more effort, such as commenting on a post, or sharing a post with a comment.
Why does engagement matter?
There are now so many social media posts, not every post will be seen by every follower. There are just too many. So social media algorithms have been developed to show followers the posts they're most likely to want to see.
Let's take facebook as an example. You may have followers who were initially interested enough to 'like' your business page, but they were 'lurkers', never bothering to like any posts, comment or share them. Over time your posts are less likely to be shown (by facebook) to that follower.
If few people like, share & comment (engage) with your posts, facebook will think (via its algorithm) that your posts aren't worth seeing and will show them to fewer and fewer people.
You need to encourage engagement so your posts are seen, but also to build followers. You need your followers to share your posts and spread the word - that's the power of social media.
How can you increase engagement?
Think of it like any other interaction with people, perhaps at a party. If you're dull, rarely interact (or post), say something irrelevant, are overly 'salesy', never ask questions of other people, or never comment on what they have to say - the other people will ignore you and go away. If you are interesting, relevant, generous, positive, you'll have lots of friends...
This isn't to say you shouldn't sell. You should. For many, that's the whole point of social media. But you need to do it carefully. You could use a simple posting rule such as out of every three posts: make one a general, helpful one; make one a sales one; make one about someone or something else so you're being more generous.
It can be easier to increase engagement with a relatively small number of followers. Businesses with huge follower numbers are often less good at engaging so over time the impact of their posts diminishes even if they appear to have a big follower circle.
How to increase followers
1. Share other people’s (choose people with lots of followers) posts more – but make sure you add comments, don’t just share so people see you being pro-active and positive.
2. Tag people in on posts e.g. with their facebook names @+facebook name so they can see you’re mentioning them – write posts about other businesses and the local area
3. Ask some friends, relatives, neighbours to comments and share on your posts – that helps to show engagement initially and can increase places your posts are seen
If there was something you could do that would benefit your business, wouldn't cost you anything and would make others happy, would you do it?
I hope your answer is 'yes'?
There is something you can do, but most people don't do it.
What does this mean?
It's very simple and could include:
It doesn't cost anything, and makes people happy.
The businesses you recommend will be happy.
Visitors will be happy because they find out about new places to go and things to do. Visitors want insider tips and recommendations, and to feel like they've found a local expert - that's you.
Generous marketing can work to your benefit in other ways.
Most people want to visit places that have plenty to offer - things to see, good food, interesting activities. If you talk about your area and other businesses, your website will be enhanced, potentially with higher search engine rankings. Talking about other businesses can make your social media posts more interesting, building your reputation as a local expert.
Reciprocity is important. If I invite you to my party or sponsor you to run a mile, you're more likely to invite me to your party and sponsor me to swim a mile. The same applies to recommendations and generous marketing. It won't happen immediately, but your neighbours will gradually reciprocate. By working together and making genuine (just linking to each other doesn't work as well) recommendations, more and more people will notice and perceive your area as welcoming and positive.
You have to put real effort and meaning into your generous marketing though - people can tell when you're just going through the motions.
There's power in an unexpected generous gesture or kindness. It makes everyone feel good.
Do you struggle to create meaningful collaborations in your home town/area?
I was recently asked for advice from someone who said they want to work with other businesses in their area but struggle to get people involved, and to really make a difference. They were frustrated by the negativity of some people .
I've created a lot of collaborations and marketing consortia over the last three decades. Here are a few of the lessons I've learnt.
Ignore the negative
There will always be some people who are negative, who just use your meetings as a talking shop, who put obstacles in your way or who say they'll do things and then don't. You could spend a lot of time battling them. Don't.
Just ignore them completely. Adopt a laser-like focus on things you can actually achieve yourself.
This doesn't mean that you can't all work together - you can, but not immediately. I'll come back to this later.
When you start, don't go for a big number of participants - focus on a small group of very positive people even that's only you and one other person.
You might be raring to go, full of ideas and want to achieve the maximum possible but it's much better to focus on one small activity initially. Keep it simple and relatively short.
Ideally make it something that you can measure, an activity with a beginning and end. The more tangible, the better. This makes it easier to explain to everyone to get started, easier to stay focused, easier to promote and easier to talk about afterwards.
If you're trying to galvanise interest in a place where people either haven't worked together before or where they've disagreed, it's much better to choose a small simple activity because your chances of success are higher. Once you've actually done something you have established a track record and can build on that. Focus on telling people about your activity after you've done it, rather than in advance.
Sometimes it's worth doing an activity that's not really part of your overall vision, just to get started and show some positive action. For example, you might want to focus on marketing activities but perhaps there's an ugly corner in your village that people comment on or that looks unloved? Simply tidying that up, and planting a few flowers can make people take notice and see you mean action. Often actually doing something is quicker than the endless discussions and moans of a meeting>
Start to tell people
Once you've done something successful, even if it's only small, tell everyone. Post on social media, tell your local paper, ask people to share what you've done. You don't need to keep saying, "look what I did" and make it all about you - the purpose of doing this is just to show that positive change is happening.
You can then choose something a little bigger but this time, start in a different way. Don't do anything overly ambitious that needs involvement of lots of people. Keep it relatively small but this time tell people in advance. Share your plans on social media and tell the local paper. You'll probably notice that because they've seen you achieve something before, some more people will now come forward to get involved.
Remember to ignore all the nay-sayers and keep focused on what you want to do. Once you have another achievement under your belt, remember to spread the word and tell people about your success. By telling people in advance what you're going to do, and then doing it, you'll start to build trust. Now things will really start moving.
Meet, talk, plan
At that point you can either create a more ambitious activity or have a meeting and ask for other people's suggestions and ideas, ready to develop more substantial plans. If you've already achieved something, this gives you more authority.
I sometimes start such meetings by saying I want it to be overwhelmingly positive, and that I'll close down any repetitive discussions about dog poo, public toilets and litter (or whatever your local issues are...) so we can focus on positive actions that make a difference.
However, you may want/need to give everyone the chance to say what's wrong and generally have a moan. One way to keep discussion of each point short but make everyone feel listened to is to quickly note each point on a flip chart. Once noted, move on & have a no-repetition rule. An alternative is to ask everyone to jot comments on post-its and put them on a wall.
When you've done this, cross through or take down the ones over which you have no control or which are too big for you to handle. Ask people to suggest solutions or ideas for each of the other ideas and to take responsibility for them.
There's nothing wrong with you saying this isn't something you can handle, and instead turning to others, so you can stay focused on your activity.
Make sure you end the meeting with a positive call to action, clearly laying out what you plan to do and when.
Ask for help
If you do decide to develop a new, more ambitious activity, make sure someone takes notes. Have a clear, timetabled action plan and ask people to volunteer to take on jobs. It's a good idea to circulate this so everyone knows who is responsible for each element of each plan.
You may need help at the beginning but you'll get more meaningful support if you can do something yourself and lead by example, and then ask for more specific help later.
What makes collaborations more successful?
1. A clearly defined activity
2. One person leading. I used to spend a lot of time consensus building to create new collaborations, particularly in areas where there had been quite a lot of discord. Over time I've realised that clear leadership actually works better. People are more ready to join in when they see success. Clear leadership doesn't mean you've taken over - you're just focusing on doing one thing well, and others can take on and lead their own projects.
3. It's much more effective to have a definite activity and build a team around that, than to spend time thinking about how you'll structure a committee or organisation. Don't get tied up with deciding on a name, coming up with a logo etc. Focus initially on tangible actions to get started then think about organisation, names etc.
4. Funding may be an issue. Again, it's easier to attract funding once you've done some grass roots activity really well.
5. Use technology to make you more efficient e.g. email, social media, website etc but don't make it the focus of your activity e.g. an app, unless it's something you are really skilled in. The market is flooded with unused apps.
6. Try to find a way to evaluate your activity, to make it easier to tell people what you've achieved and what you plan to do next.
7. Tell people, put up posters, use social media and your local paper or radio station, and then tell them all again. Don't assume everyone knows about everything you do - they're busy and so you'll probably have to tell them more than once.
8. Ask people to help. Specific, individual requests often work best.
9. Have an overall vision and plan what you want to achieve, but make sure you focus on step by step activity to get you to your vision.
10. Don't overload people with too many ideas and angles.
Amanda Brown and I were talking about all the ways people irritate journalists when trying to secure media coverage. I've worked with Amanda for several years and she's excellent at PR. The fact that so many of her releases and feature suggestions get used and that so many journalists come back to her for more, shows she does a good job. Perhaps part of her success is thanks to her previous career as a journalist so she sees the job from their perspective too.
Amanda wrote this article, looking at the things you should avoid when contacting journalists
If you ever look at the hashtag #PRfail on twitter, you’ll see a never-ending outpouring from journalists who have become irritated with the tactics used by people trying to get attention for their ‘news’ or feature idea.
As I’ve spent more years than I care to mention liaising with journalists I thought I’d share my top 10 list of no-no’s. Judging by #PRfail many of these are still being used and are guaranteed to get the hack’s hackles up!
1. The scattergun approach
Instead of taking a scattergun approach do your homework and find out which journalists are more likely to write on your subject. Build a list of contacts (it’s easier nowadays as many email addresses are online) and send them an individual email rather than a round-robin, or worse, an email addressed to the wrong name.
2. Phoning journalists
Journalists are inundated and so it’s easy to see why they get irritated with phone calls from people ringing to check whether they’ve looked at a press release that was sent a mere 10 minutes ago. The irritation triples when a press deadline is nearing!
Emails will be looked at and journalists will decide whether
a.) they’re interested and need more information in which case they’ll get in contact
b.) they have all the information they need or
c.) it gets spiked.
If it’s an exclusive or news so hot that it makes a Vindaloo curry seem mild, then there might be a case for phoning!
3. Using the word unique
Over the years I’ve had to counsel numerous clients about using the word ‘unique’ when conversing with journalists. If there’s one word that will consign a press release to the bin - it's unique – overused, misused, you name it. The pyramids are unique, a cottage with a beautiful view is not.
4. Ringing to find out when a piece is going to appear
Same as number 2. Some journalists kindly give the heads-up on a piece appearing but it shouldn’t be expected, again because they simply don’t have the time. Freelance journalists will file a feature but they will rarely know the publishing date. Ditto asking for a copy of the published piece which is likely to illicit a curt response: “Buy a copy if you want to see it.”
5. Leaving out essential information
If you send out press information that piques a journalist’s curiosity, it can be really annoying when vital information is left out.
For instance, if it’s about a new hotel or experience, essential information includes the lead-in price and web link. Simple enough and yet if you leave it out, there’s more chance your news will be ditched in favour of others who have included the essentials.
6. Waffling emails
Given that journalists receive hundreds of emails a day don’t send one that simply waffles.
Subject line - keep it short and relevant.
If you’re pitching a feature idea, again keep it short, relevant and easy for a journalist to understand what you’re getting at in one or two paragraphs. If they’re interested they will get in touch and ask for more information but they simply don’t have the time to read through long winded diatribes.
7. Disrespecting geography
Information that doesn’t relate to a newspaper’s geographical patch will invariably be pushed to the bottom of the pile unless it’s of national importance, or meets the quirk-factor (witness the recent regional pick-up of news about a Harry Potter-themed holiday cottage!).
8. Not doing your homework
Ok, so all of the above are about doing your homework but sometimes it pays to get to know what journalists like and dislike. How about this from the travel editor for the Express/Mirror/Star who tweeted this in relation to the infinite number of stories he receives on instagrammable spots:
@TravelEdNigel – Spare us from this press release drivel ‘Toilet Selfies: The Most Instagrammed Bathrooms
9. Not asking yourself if your ‘news’ really is newsworthy
In the opening of this blog, I referred to ‘news’ rather than news. This is because many people are quite rightly proud of their attraction/accommodation/visitor experience because it’s lovely and has rave reviews. However, that doesn’t mean journalists are going to rush to write about it unless it’s new, has been significantly redeveloped, has a relevant news hook, or happens to fit with a feature they’re writing about.
10. Forgetting that journalists are only human
We all get a bit chippy when we’re strapped for time and we’re struggling to wade our way through emails and the ‘to-do’ list so why not think about how we can help journalists make their job easier rather than adding to the burden?
How many pictures have you taken this week?
Yes, I know you're busy but have you looked outside? Everything's looking lush, green, fresh and the light's wonderful.
Why am I suggesting you spend some time every day snapping a few pictures? If you want to develop your business, creating a bigger, better bank of images is one of the easiest, cheapest and most effective things you can do. Yet most people fail to do.
Selling a promise
Tourism marketing is all about selling a promise. We're trying to convince people to visit us, and yet most people don't know about us and can't picture what our areas or businesses are like. Put an idea into their head that includes visual images and they're more likely to imagine themselves as part of that picture. If we want to convince them to visit, we need them to be able to imagine being here and enjoying what we have to offer.
It's never been easier to take and upload images to websites and social media. Of course many pictures are terrible, but with practice everything improves. In Spring and Summer most places look better than in the darker Winter months so it makes sense to take plenty of photos now, so you can use them all year round.
What about those days when the weather isn't so good and the phone doesn't ring? That's a good time to use images to show how good your area can look, to show potential visitors there are better times to come. When it's raining, it's hard to imagine the sun ever shining again but a picture can convince, or you could show a cosy indoor image to entice visitors.
Your website before review sites
Why do you think review sites have become so popular? One key reason is because visitors want more information, to feel more certain before they make a booking or commit to doing something. If you've only got a few small images on your website, people will look elsewhere. Review sites offer more images and more information but there's always the risk that a visitor will go somewhere else. Add as many images as you can to your website. Help potential visitors imagine what it's like, and help them see how it might feel to visit.
FOMO or Fear Of Missing Out is a big motivator for many people making decisions to do something or visit somewhere. A really good image on social media can trigger FOMO and encourage visits.
You probably spend a fair amount of time answering the same questions again and again? You could cut down on some of that time by adding more images to convey some of the information.
Good images are one of the easiest ways to grab attention and interest people when they see them on social media, on websites and in other media. The eye is automatically drawn to images before words.
What kind of images to use?
What kind of photos work well? Images that show beauty or that surprise, pictures of something about to happen, happening or just happened.
Try to use a combination of images - those that show the big picture, those that show smaller details.
Whatever you do, take and use as many pictures as you can. It's one of the easiest ways to show people how good you are, to interest them, and encourage more visits. If you can somehow tell a story through one of your pictures, so much the better.
Does any other county evoke such passion and pride in its attractions, landscape, food, and arts as Yorkshire?
If we harness our Yorkshire pride, work together to talk about what makes Yorkshire special, the promotional power will be huge.
We don't need a big budget. Thanks to the internet and mobile phones, anyone can now have their own publishing empire (websites, social media) be film makers, podcasters, broadcasters…
The challenge is to choose the right approach and right messages.
How do you sum up a place as big and full of attractions as Yorkshire?
Is there a way to promote more of Yorkshire, to focus on niche activities, hidden gems as well as well-known places?
How can we use our passion and pride as our own Yorkshire marketing super-power?
The answer lies in treasures, triggers and tribes: an effective and practical approach to tourism marketing.
Visitors don’t want ‘something for everyone’. They want carefully chosen, special places. They don't want the official view. They want recommendations from local experts.
They want to uncover the unknown, find the forgotten, celebrate the hidden gems alongside the big names. They want an easy way to find the treasures. It's up to local people and loyal repeat visitors to suggest and showcase them.
The Instagram generation do still like to see famous places for themselves, but they're just as attracted, excited and intrigued by lesser known aspects of Yorkshire. They like their followers to ask, ‘where’s that?’, ‘how did you find that?’
Visitors, journalists, bloggers and other destination influencers need the information we can provide as local experts.
We don't always value our local knowledge as much as we should. We need to showcase our 'doorstep delights'. In short, we know where the treasure's hidden and need to bring it to the fore!
Ask a direct question such as ‘where’s the best place to...?’ and recommendations will follow. Tell someone you share one of their interests, and they’ll talk to you. Show an intriguing or beautiful image, and you’ll capture attention.
These are all talk 'triggers' and a great way to start conversations about our treasures. Good marketing promotion is about finding the right messages.
The big change brought about by the internet is that we don't need to do all our own marketing. We can harness the power of 'tribes' to help us.
We all have interests, places, values, activities that we feel quite passionately about. We go through stages of life with other people in similar situations. Whatever our ‘tribe’, we identify with each other, and when there’s somewhere we love, people like us like to hear our recommendations. Tell a member of a tribe and they’ll keep spreading the word.
There are many, many different 'tribes', which makes it easier to promote to a broader range of markets. Here's just one example. Think of a local café where parents of primary school children gather. You’ll rarely see an advert saying ‘just dropped children off at school? Come to x’ They don't need to advertise because once a member of a tribe has found that place, the rest follow.
Word of mouth and social media become the key marketing methods. There’s nothing official, nothing scripted, word just spreads.
Use Yorkshire pride as a marketing super-power in your business
If you work for a Yorkshire based tourism (accommodation, attractions, activity providers), food and drink, or arts and craft business, I'd love you to join me - free - in a new collaborative marketing activity.
We'll harness our collective local pride and knowledge, using a themed approach building on the idea of treasures, triggers and tribes. It'll help you promote your business and local area.
Every week we'll use a different topic in social media, blogs, on websites. This won't be a big time commitment. It will help you think differently about your marketing.
Join the priority list now to receive full details soon. The activity will run from mid June to the end of September. There's no cost!
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Please note: all articles are copyrighted Susan Briggs