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.
Yesterday, we established a set of strategic objectives for 2009. Today, we want to develop a better understanding of our goals. Two of the objectives we established, gaining a net 15 total clients and growing net profit 20% work hand-in-hand. If I increase the number of clients I work with, certainly my profits should increase. Likewise, creating a niche market for my practice should give me an excellent way of focusing on the first two objectives. One of the real benefits of creating a niche is that my target market is much easier to locate, identify and reach. Finally, enhancing the professionalism of my practice should help with both the acquisition and retention of clients. A good set of strategic objectives will complement each other and work in tandem, and these do.
Whether you are the owner of your company or an employee, this set of strategic objectives represents worthy goals. In either event, you are indeed the owner of your travel practice. You, as an individual, are a brand. Accomplishing your objectives on behalf of your company makes you more valuable to ownership whether that owner is you or someone else. If you are an employee, discuss your goals and ambitions with your employer or manager. Ask for the support necessary to make your objectives happen.
Break down your objectives to better understand them. If my goal is to acquire a net of 15 new clients during 2009, I need to ramp up my “circle of influence.” My marketing efforts must be geared to expose me to more people that I currently encounter. I will need to engage in activities that will get me noticed by people desiring the services I provide. Further, a 20% net increase in my bookings is a tall order. For the sake of our example here, let’s assume this will require me to generate an additional $80,000 in travel business.
I have set obtaining a niche market as an objective of my business plan. I want to choose something for which I have an affinity, because my passion for the niche has to be immediate and very natural. For our sample plan, I am going to choose African safaris. I am choosing this one because of my own travel experiences when have made me very enthusiastic for Tanzania and its countryside. Having been on a FAM to Tanzania, I have a pre-existing relationship with a tour operator with which I can partner for my plan.
I also want to enhance the professionalism of my travel practice. I decide to examine all of my “points of contact” with clients to take a hard look at each. We will examine points of contact more closely later.
Finally, I am ready to start thinking about the tactics I will use to achieve my objectives. It is important to understand that marketing is not just tactics. Marketing is not a series of “tricks” or gambits designed to flush clients my way. In fact, here is an article that explains how marketing is more like farming than hunting. Marketing is an exercise in developing relationships. As we begin working on our tactics tomorrow, that is a lesson worth keeping at the center of our effort.
Exercise – Flesh out the Strategic Objectives you have created for your own Marketing Plan. Try to understand how achieving any one of your objectives can support the others. Write down your thoughts on what your objectives will require in terms of real numbers of new clients and new business. Think about the niche you want to develop. What type of travel excites your passion? Where are your affinities? Begin to develop a list of possible tour operators with which to work on your niche. Finally, read and print out the articles referenced above and make notations on them to assist in developing a set of tactics that will be suitable to your disposition and market.
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