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!
Free tourism marketing advice
Please note: all articles are copyrighted Susan Briggs