My husband and I used to own an imaginary dog called Wilbur. He was very much part of our life: we had some lovely daily walks with him and took it in turns to let him out and feed him first thing in the morning and last thing at night. We knew he didn't exist but we talked and acted as if he did. We could even picture his sad little face if we failed to walk him.
Obviously this sounds a bit bonkers, and you'd be forgiven for wondering what it's got to do with tourism marketing? The answer is: walking Wilbur was the same as brushing your teeth.
More nonsense? No, it's about habits. We didn't want to get a dog if we weren't convinced we could fit him into our busy lives, and get into the habit of walking him regularly. There was no point in just thinking about it. We had to do it.
The same applies to tourism marketing.
Back to the toothbrush. Most of us are in the regular habit of brushing our teeth, morning and night. We barely think of it during the day and when it's time to perform this simple task we don't have to think about it in advance, or build up to it. It's just automatic. Brushing our teeth or going on a daily walk with a dog isn't onerous. It's part of a daily routine and 'just happens'.
If you want to make money from your tourism business, you need to make sure people know about it. You need to market it. Marketing is a bit like walking Wilbur or brushing your teeth. It doesn't have to take all day. It might just take a few minutes every day. It should be something you automatically do (not without thinking about the actual activities). It should be a habit.
"Not enough time". What does that really mean?
I can already hear you saying, "but I don't have enough time". When I ask people what they struggle with most in their marketing, the most frequent response is "not enough time". But what does this really mean?
Of course we might struggle to accomplish all we have to do in our daily lives. We have to make choices between what's essential and what's just nice or good to do.
When you say you don't have enough time to do any marketing, you're likely to mean something a little different, probably one of these:
1. I don't think my business is important enough to find time to do any marketing. I don't really care enough about it. More marketing might mean more income or an easier life, but that's not really want I want. I'd rather spend time doing other things.
2. I tend to do 'urgent' things, before important things. I'm more reactive to situations and don't really get round to planning my marketing.
3. I don't really know what to do to market my business. I probably need some kind of structure and more of a habit and direction to be able to make it part of my routine. If I had these, I could spend just half an hour on marketing much more frequently and make more of an impact on my business, without faffing about and wasting time.
4. I'm not very organised or good at planning my time. If I had some help to do this, I could definitely achieve more.
Which of these do you think applies most to you?
Over the next few months I'm going to help tourism businesses who have answered 2,3, or 4.
Can Eisenhower help?
If you answered 2,3, or 4, you might like to think about Eisenhower's Matrix. Most tasks can be described as falling within one of the squares in this grid.
Obviously tasks that are urgent and important need to be prioritised. Ones that are neither could be left undone. Many of the tasks we spend time on feel urgent but are not really important.
Some activities are actually very important but we don't do them because they don't feel urgent and don't have a time limit on them. Many people would put marketing into the "Important but not urgent" box, which means it just doesn't happen.
One relatively easy way to solve this is to plan and make your marketing part of your daily routine. Just like brushing your teeth, incorporating small periods of time undertaking some marketing activities can reap fantastic longer term rewards. The key is to make it into something you do more frequently so it feels like a habit, instead of something you push off into the future.
Why not try a little experiment? Put an appointment with yourself in your diary.
Block out a 30 minute session at least 3 times a week, when you promise yourself you'll do some pre-planned marketing for your business. If you're less likely to keep an appointment with yourself, why not write "Don't let Wilbur down" in your diary instead!!
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Please note: all articles are copyrighted Susan Briggs