That sound you hear is time passing. Things are winding down, and there are less than six weeks left in 2014. Whatever has happened during the year, you can make 2015 more productive by gearing up for the creation of a business plan. An important part of every business plan, and a good start at generating the appropriate mindset, is a marketing calendar. Too few travel consultants incorporate the use of a marketing calendar in their practice. Yet, without a marketing calendar, many opportunities for strong marketing efforts slip by either unnoticed or weakly implemented.
Effective marketing drives sales. Period. But to be effective over the long term, marketing cannot be haphazard or random. Planning a marketing strategy with a calendar in front of you will ensure firstly that you are incorporating a variety of marketing efforts into your plan and secondly that you are doing so in synch with your clients’ own planning.
Sit down with an annual calendar and mark these holidays and calendar events: Valentine’s Day, Spring Break, the beginning of Summer Vacation, Father’s Day, Canada Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and any other holidays or remembrances where the people of your community might have days off from work or might travel. Now, back up three months
(less if you have to) and consider what marketing efforts you might initiate directed at those holiday opportunities. Clients with children are planning their spring and summer vacations right now. Suggest a quick “get out of town” as a surprise Father’s Day trip for dad. What is the family doing for New Year’s this year?
Compare your 2015 calendar with your bookings for 2014. When did the most research activity in 2014 take place? When did the most actual travel take place? How could you best time your marketing to take advantage of your clients’ own travel calendars?
Next, calendar the frequency of your most important client communications. When is your next newsletter going out? By when can you generate your next press release? When would be a good time to seek a speaking engagement? When is your next advertising campaign? Use your calendar to ensure that you have sufficient frequency and venues to stay top of mind and that your content for each is relevant to the seasonality.
If you spend a couple of hours over the holidays doing the exercise above, you will be on your way to a marketing plan. A good marketing calendar alerts you to the necessity for constant activity, the type of movement in which you must engage for your business to grow.
Good marketing requires frequency. Clients must hear your message over and over not only to remember it but to respond to it. Your challenge is to build an association between your name and the concept of travel – when a client thinks of you, they think of “that travel person.” More importantly, however, when the client thinks of travel, they think of you! To develop an association of that magnitude, client needs to hear your message not only frequently, but from a variety of sources. The client that sees an advertisement in a local newspaper might consider your services if he happens to be in need of them immediately. If that same client then sees a press release from your office, the message gets a bit closer to home. If your word of mouth efforts then delivers to that client a recommendation or referral from an acquaintance to use your services, you are far more likely to get his business.
Planning your marketing against a calendar is smart. If 2014 passed by with things left undone in your marketing plan, renew your commitment to getting your message across in a timely and frequent fashion.
Nothing succeeds like planning to succeed.