Digital Age Changes Marketing Thrust
Now that most consumers are using the internet to plan vacations and travel, managers are compelled to change the focus of their marketing and advertising. Now we’re focused on bringing customers to our web site.
Advertising is expensive so you want to maximize the results from the investment—there always needs to be a strategy behind ads. Ads should be designed with the intention of producing a desired behavior from the consumer. Your ad needs to have a ‘call to action’ to direct the consumer to take the next step: “Call now for a FREE brochure”, or “Book now to get this deal”. Intelligent managers have designed their ad messages with the intention of causing the consumer to take a specific action.
Before the world wide web became the focus, hospitality properties relied on print advertising, brochures, directories, and word-of-mouth to drive consumer traffic to make a phone call. Then the 800 toll free boom hit and became the must-do marketing edge. All customer communication came through the telephone—the phone was the technology.
Fast forward to today, and you’ll realize that now all of your marketing focus is placed on your web page. As I work with clients to design their ads and brochures, we mention the phone number, address and zip code, but the action we want them to take is to ‘Visit our web site to see more!”. Now that you have a web site, with pages of engaging content and useful information, the value of an inbound phone call is secondary. The majority of customers who do call will have first checked you out online before they make the call. (Many will book online without calling at all). The phone call is now a secondary action, with most of your marketing mojo focused upon causing the action of “visit my web site”.
The entrance of social media on the landscape does not cancel out the importance of your web site, for several reasons. Social media has limited search and local placement capabilities, and is really a forum for connection and community. Facebook pages are increasingly crowded with ads which are competing for attention. Your Facebook page is not under your control even now. You can be sure Facebook will continue to try to compete for the attention of your customers, diverting them to games, user profiles, competitors ads. You really don’t want to drive traffic to your Facebook page. Rather, your Facebook page wants to drive traffic to your web site. Social media presents a real long term strategic opportunity—if properly implemented in a marketing plan.
Print ads in directories, brochures placed in RV dealerships, ads in RV Travel magazines, and listings in local visitor guides all still have an important role in advertising and marketing. But the coming of the digital age has changed the tone and focus of our marketing messages.
Feel free to contact me for a lively discussion of hospitality marketing: www.straitanswers.com