The psychologist Carl Jung posited that all humans share in the unconscious portion of our minds what he termed “archetypes”: images of mythological importance that we instantly recognize in stories and the events of day to day life. According to Jung’s theories, our mind responds to situations influenced by those same archetypes. Thus, in some leaders we see the “King” or “Hero” archetypes. Characters on television and in the movies are often very intentionally developed to mirror particular archetypes like the “Magician” or the “Warrior”.
This too brief and painfully inadequate introduction to Jung’s archetypes suggests that the persona of our business will be better articulated, more imaginative and forceful if we pay attention to the archetype it mirrors. The stories we read in novels, plays, movies and even our personal histories are all told in a narrative fashion, influenced by shared archetypes. Jung and his followers called these stories the “hero’s journey,” and it explains why we are captivated by a good story.
So what’s your story? Read the rest of this entry »
This week we have been looking at the concept of a visual system for your travel practice – the graphical elements that represent your brand. Now, let’s zero in on the creation of an advertisement as a concrete example. Creating great visual advertising is both an art and a skill. The graphic design of a print or banner ad has to be clean and uncluttered, yet interesting enough to grab the viewer and pull them in. Good graphic artists know this and use a mix of graphic elements, text, color and white space in exactly the right proportions to create an attractive and professional advertisement.
The travel professional hoping to also become a great advertiser has to become a student of advertising. Look at the advertising on websites, in magazines and in your local newspaper. Study how the larger tour companies advertise in print and online. Note the font sizes for headlines versus body text and determine how placement and areas of white space are used. Read the rest of this entry »
The graphic design of marketing materials is certainly about pulling the viewer in and keeping them there long enough to recognize a benefit to remembering your brand. Competing for the attention of a busy reader, however, is no small feat. Your choices in graphical design are key to hitting the emotional keystones necessary to influence your readers. The layout of your graphics, font and whitespace are central to the effort.
Most of us know graphically pleasing promotional material when we see it, but we seldom analyze how the graphic artist achieved the result. This is an area where, if available to you, professional assistance is invaluable. If you are designing a brochure or handout, templates are often available. If designing an advertisement, the media from which you are purchasing ad space can be a prime resource. Most media have templates and even in-house graphical artists that will assist you in the design and layout of your advertising. Read the rest of this entry »
Make a quick list of all of the places your company’s visual system is evident. This will most likely be on your business cards, your letterhead, your web site, presentations and Facebook page. Perhaps your logo and other visual elements appear on the window of your office or on your fliers. Now, evaluate whether over time those elements have remained identical or whether they have drifted into similar but slightly different variations.
Sometimes the variations are subtle. Taglines are re-positioned and wording changed. The orientation or position of logo elements are altered on differing media. Colors and fonts change from format to format.
Variations in your company’s visual system confuse the public. Read the rest of this entry »
You are engaged in pro-active monitoring of your company’s reputation, and you have in place every possible customer service channel to preemptively handle complaints. Yet, you wake up one day to a negative review online. Perhaps it is a customer who had a legitimate complaint and whom you could not satisfy. Perhaps you don’t know the poster. In either event, there are immediate steps to be taken, some “do’s and don’ts” that can lessen and even eliminate the impact of a negative online review.
Firstly, note the tenor of the posting. Is the tone well-spoken and reasonable or it is irrational and filled with inflammatory language? Can you can identify the person who made the posting? Many times, contacting the poster and trying to pull the discussion off-line is one of the best possible tactics. If the poster is willing to engage in a civil manner, it may even be possible once resolved to request a removal, a retraction or a follow-on explanation of the resolution from the original poster. However, too seldom is a rational, off-line solution available. Read the rest of this entry »
“Reputation is what men and women think of us; character is what God and angels know of us.”
~ Thomas Paine
You know what your company stands for, what ethic you live by and the manner in which you deal with your clients. You have spent time building a business persona, crafting the image you want your company to project. You have invested vast, precious resources developing your logo, your sales collateral and training your business associates on client relationships. You are all dressed up with somewhere to go.
Then, someone posts a negative review of your business online. Suddenly, online searches of your company name generate the negative review as a top result. What are your options and how can you counter the adverse publicity? Read the rest of this entry »
Marketing has two functions – the retention of existing clients and the generation of new clients. Our mission is to discover where in the sales process we can fine-tune our one-on-one skills with consumers to turn them into repeat clients. But almost before we get to sales we have to step back and ask a very important question: Is your marketing attracting qualified leads?
Good marketing will not simply generate leads. Good marketing will generate qualified leads by setting the expectations of the consumers who contact you for travel services. Marketing conditions the sales process. If a majority of the leads coming to you are not qualified, your marketing is not working well for you. Read the rest of this entry »
Advertising can be a scary proposition for a travel consultant. In a service industry like ours, advertising can represent as much as 80% or more of an entire marketing budget. Purchasing the right media can be a daunting gamble and generating appropriate creative is as much art as science. Results can be difficult to measure – it can sometimes be tough to determine whether an advertisement created any results at all. Yet, advertising is often the most visible marketing done by an agency. Getting it right is important. Thus, the next few articles will deal with advertising: what it is, how to plan, execute and measure. Hopefully, at the end of our series, advertising will not seem quite as dark an art as it may right now.
A good working definition is that advertising is paid, non-personal communication through media about a company meant to persuade a target audience to act in a desired manner. Read the rest of this entry »
It is very easy to read a marketing article on Branding and to think that the article addresses “the company”. Certainly every company has it’s archetype – an image of its brand that sits at the core of the company and gives the company a personality with which people can identify. Based on core values and philosophy about life, travel and business, a company archetype fills out the corporate personality and makes it attractive to consumers. The more clearly defined a company’s archetype, the more clear it’s brand.
The most important asset of any company, however, is its people. Branding, ultimately, comes back to the people who make up the company. Especially in a service industry, there is no more critical aspect to the brand than the people who represent it. Read the rest of this entry »
We are devoting this week to the concept of branding your travel agency. As we indicated in yesterday’s column, branding sets up expectations of a unique value in the mind of the client. If you have clearly articulated a brand message in all of your communications tools, those consumers coming into contact with your brand will have expectations of what it will be like to do business with you.
Your brand integrates every aspect of your business where clients come into contact with the company. For that reason, maintaining your brand is a continual process of interaction, feedback and adjustment. If any aspect of a client’s experience with your company does not meet the expectations that you set up in your brand marketing, maintenance is required. Brand consistency throughout your organization reinforces your message and creates the right atmosphere for your travel practice to grow and prosper. Read the rest of this entry »
We are devoting this week to the concept of branding your travel agency. A brand is a short cut – when your brand is strong, clients and potential clients that have been exposed to your brand will think of you when they think of travel. Your brand will carry your company’s message and, as a result, your company will have a distinct market advantage. But these good results can only happen if you are communicating your brand to the market clearly and in a consistent manner. Further, your brand must appear with sufficent frequency to gain consumer mindshare. A quick examination of each of these elements can help you to better understand the importance of communicating your brand. Read the rest of this entry »
Yesterday we established that your brand is the total sum of people’s perceptions about your company (or about you personally as a travel agent). Too often, branding happens without any intentional thought or direction – the company’s brand simply evolves from customer experience. If the travel agent is very good at what he or she does, excellent at communication and customer service, an unconscious approach to branding will work, but never as well as a directed, focused branding strategy. The goal of a branding strategy is to create an association in the mind of the public with you and travel – when clients think of travel, they think of you in the positive light you intend. In fact, they would not think of traveling without thinking of contacting you. It is possible to build this sort of strong, emotional connection with your clients and the public but it requires a concerted and consistent effort on your part. Read the rest of this entry »
Marketers like to throw the word “brand” around a lot, but the reality is there remains a lot of confusion over exactly what is meant. Poorly implemented, a brand strategy can leave clients confused and unimpressed – exactly the opposite of what you intend. For that reason, TRO will spend this week looking at the basics of how to brand your travel planning practice. Whether you are the owner of a large corporate agency, an employee in a storefront or a sole practitioner working out of your home, branding is a vitally important component of your overall marketing plan. Read the rest of this entry »
This week we have been discussing the visual system used by companies to identify their brand. We have spoken about matters as big as your logo and as small and seemingly unimportant as font and white space. The very valid question remains: so what?
After all, it really is your skill set clients seek out, right? Your 20 years in the business means your clip art logo and Hotmail or AOL email account don’t really matter so much to clients. They know you for the travel genius you are and the rest is really just padding.
Well, not so much. Let’s look at Starbucks for a couple of lessons. Read the rest of this entry »
Are you recognizable? Take a look at the items within your line of sight. Recognize any brands? Who made the phone, the computer you are working on, the printer sitting on its stand? The chances are pretty good on each is a logo which acts as a symbol for the company’s brand. When you see the apple with a bite taken out of its right side, you know it’s not an apple – it’s an Apple.
As I indicated in my Publisher’s Corner article today, a company’s visual system is a very important aspect of marketing. Most visible is the company’s logo, but the type face, the colors you use and the layout are all key components of making the whole work. We tend to pay the most attention to the logo, but over time the elements may begin to drift away from the standard you originally set. Read the rest of this entry »
A newsletter is one of the best vehicles for building long term relationships with your existing customers and for marketing to potential clients. A newsletter reinforces your company brand and gives you many opportunities to market both strategically and tactically. Newsletters educate, inform, but most importantly, engage your clients, helping to retain them over the long-term.
Satisfied subscribers to a company newsletter are more likely to choose your company when making a purchasing decision. A travel agency newsletter with a readership of dozens, even hundreds, of readers is a very serious and valuable asset for your company. It gives you a marketing channel by which you can reach out and touch the clients closest to you at a minimal expense. Read the rest of this entry »
TRO is devoting the next few weeks to assisting agents in developing a 2009 Marketing Plan. Follow along with us each day to gain the traction you need to make 2009 your best year ever.
Now that we know which Distribution Channels we will use in our 2009 Marketing Plan, we need to develop the tactics necessary to approach each channel successfully. Before we do, however, we have one more important step to consider – our Points of Contact. Loosely defined, our Points of Contact are those points at which a client can form an impression of our travel practice. Points of Contact range from our logo and business cards, to our Read the rest of this entry »