Life Beyond Direct Mail

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Dear Stephanie,

What else can I do besides direct mail pieces to market my agency?

-Jen E. 

Hi Jen,

While direct mail pieces have the ability to be very effective for certain demographics, there are plenty of other ways to market your agency beyond that.

Before we start, let me just say this is a gargantuan subject to cover so keep in mind this column only discusses the tip of the iceberg. I’m a fan of grassroots marketing so let’s focus on that.

There are two different areas I’d recommend you focus on: in-person networking and the web.

Networking

Many people book with a travel agent because they – or someone they know – knows and like the agent.   Before they met you, they may have never even thought of booking with a travel agent.  But because they like and trust you, they’re open to the idea of trying something new.

With that in mind, we can deduce that the more people you know, the larger your potential client base.  Many agents belong to BNI or their chamber of commerce to help make connections.  For me – and maybe this is easier for me since I’m fairly outgoing – I am making new connections wherever I go.  I don’t wait for business functions to get to know the person next to me!  J

It takes practice but putting yourself out there, introducing yourself, asking about the other person to learn about their world will open doors for you.

Web

I’m a huge fan of utilizing the power of the web.  It was my main marketing platform at my past two jobs so I’ve been able to experience the benefits first-hand.

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The first thing you’ll want to do is install Google Analytics on your site.  It’s free and gives you the data you need to understand which of marketing campaigns are effective, ensuring you’re spending your time where it’s worth it!

After you’ve installed analytics, here’s a few paths you can take:

  • Social Media Marketing:  The darling of marketing at the moment… and for good reason.  It’s a great way to connect with people and get your brand/personality out there.
  • Content Marketing:  Give your potential clients reason to stay on their site and get to know you more.  Content marketing is about giving your audience relevant, helpful material without asking for anything.  What you’re doing is building trust and relationship in hopes that when the time comes to buy, you’re at the forefront of their mind.
  • Search Engine Optimization:  Most likely, you’ll want to hire this out.  What they’ll do is implement some best practices to ensure that the search engines are able to find your site and know what it’s about.  This one usually requires an investment since most people aren’t as familiar with the back-end of sites.

If you’re looking for some in-depth ideas on how to do marketing on the cheap for your agency, you’ll want to check out this webinar.  I presented The $100 Marketing Plan at a travel trade show last fall and it will most certainly give you some take-home ideas to implement:

For the rest of you, if you have any questions on host agencies, getting started in the travel industry, growing your home-based agency, etc. drop me a line: Stephanie@hostagencyreviews.com

Until next time,
Steph

 

After a 6 year stretch as director of a national host agency, Stephanie Lee started Host Agency Reviews – a resource website with host reviews and articles to help travel agents start and grow their travel agencies. She was awarded the ASTA’s Young Professional of the Year and Travel Agent Magazine’s 30 under 30 award. As time marches on, the dates of the awards have been surreptitiously left out to avoid drawing attention to the fact she’s aging. She’s not.

You can connect with Steph on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

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