A quick thought for today: what do you do to make people smile?
It might be something you do as part of your customer service, or it could be something in your marketing messages. It could be something humorous or simply human. Cheeky works really well too, if it's right for your market.
Make people smile and they automatically feel positive towards you.
They'll remember you for longer.
Are you getting the reaction you want - from your website and other marketing?
Does your business convey the right impression?
Your choice of colour scheme can have a profound impact on people so you might want to consider which ones you use. This outline of the psychology of colours could be handy.
My company colours supposedly invoke a sense of creativity, friendliness, energy, courage, warmth and wealth, with a little fun throw in!... What about yours?
Here's an idea that will make your visitors smile. It's easy to do, and will benefit others: toilet twinning!
By donating £60 to twin your toilet, you help those in desperate poverty to have access to a proper latrine, clean water and the information they need to be healthy.
Your smallest room becomes the proud owner of a framed certificate, complete with a colour photo of its twin and GPS coordinates so you can look up your twin on Google Maps.
2.4 billion people don’t have somewhere safe, clean and hygienic to go to the loo. That’s more than a third of the people on the planet. Just go to www.toilettwinning.org to sign up now.
And once you've received your certificate, take a picture of yourself with your own loo and the framed certificate and send it to your local paper and post it on social media. I've suggested this countless times to tourism business owners and it always gets published and shared, raises a smile and encourages others to do the same.
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...
Can you offer a "status story?"
What's a status story? It's something people can share or tell others on social media. It also reflects our changing priorities. Status used to be about buying and having "things". Now it's more about the stories we tell, and the experiences we've enjoyed that mark us out from others.
I recently looked at the things successful tourism businesses have in common: they enable their visitors to tell their friends and family about something different they've done, something they've experienced that was unusual or some quirky detail they've learnt about - ideally with an instagram-worthy photo.
This not only means that visitors have stories to share, but their enthusiasm makes future marketing much easier with recommendations and referrals.
It's relatively easy for tour operators, attractions and activity providers to offer experiences but not all of them give clear enough insights into how they'll make visitors feel.
Accommodation providers often give information about their facilities but not so many tell potential guests about opportunities to discover something new. It could be anything from the chance to see new-born lambs, to meeting a local character or enjoying the wonder of discovering a hidden beauty spot.
What-ever it is, we all need to be better at helping visitors to uncover the stories they'll be able to tell. In turn they'll pass on those stories to others and promote our businesses and destinations.
Can you think of something you often say/write to promote your business that could be expressed differently to make it more compelling?
Perhaps there's a sentence you often use that you need to make better?
Injecting some emotion is good.
I love this sign. instead of a bald "keep off the grass", it actually makes you think of the grass as a lovely living thing with feelings!
A while ago I re-learnt a useful tourism marketing lesson from N, my then 12-year old. We were planning a weekend in Berlin. I lived in East Germany in the early 1980s in the days of the Cold War and find it fascinating to go back. N. really wasn't keen and at first I couldn't understand why not.
"Whenever I think of it, it's in black and white and sounds miserable and horrid. When you talk about being arrested and bad food and people following you, it makes me think it's like a scarey old film. I don't want to go there".
The penny dropped. N has heard me talk about my experiences living in East Germany. I've never told her the full story of the reunification or how Berlin has developed into a funky weekend destination. Her mind is full of pre-conceptions and outdated, incomplete information: I need to overcome some of those before she'll look forward to a weekend in Berlin.
This is something which happens so often in tourism marketing.
We can waste a fortune by failing to understand what's already in someone's mind. This conversation reminded me of VisitBritain research which found many Chinese people have read Sherlock Holmes stories and therefore believe London is still prone to pea-soupers. They need to see new images of modern-day London before they'll want to visit.
Tourism marketeers don't always help themselves. For years the North East was promoted as "Catherine Cookson Country", as the setting of some of the most miserable books you'll ever read. Just because a certain literary style or writer is popular doesn't mean it should be the focus for all your marketing.
Until very recently businesses in Haworth (see earlier blog on this) couldn't understand why tourism wasn't constantly developing on the back of the Brontes (3 sisters who died before their mid thirties and a drug-riddled, alcoholic brother are not always the best advert for a place even if they write well).
Tourism marketeers are constantly throwing out messages, telling me people what we want them to hear. But how often do we stop to think about what's already in their minds? What are they really interested in? What misunderstandings do we need to overcome? Have we assumed potential visitors are all as fascinated by the things we want to tell them about (Brontes for example) or are there other aspects of a place we should stress? Do our visitors even understand the information we're putting out?
What are you telling your potential visitors? Is it at odds with what they might already know/believe? We need to find out what's already in their minds before we can fill them with new (and sometimes contrasting) information.
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Please note: all articles are copyrighted Susan Briggs