A few years ago, my daughter overheard me saying to a client on the phone, “People don’t buy products, they buy solutions.” She later told me, “that’s really smart, Mom.” It’s a marketing concept that seems so simple, but so critical to the success of your marketing.
It’s too bad that 95% of travel business messages miss this entirely. Go online and all you see are ads promoting travel specials. Go to any travel agency website and you will most likely read about how many years they have been in business and how their specialty is something like cruises. But these are not solutions.
It’s not just the travel industry either. A grand majority of all small businesses market products, not solutions. But until you can shift your message to solutions, you will continue to feel frustrated with your clients. Why? Because you will naturally attract price shoppers and bargain hunters.
How does one shift their marketing from selling products to selling solutions? I have 3 steps.
First figure out what solution you provide. You may have to think hard on this one, but as a travel advisor, you solve many problems. What is the biggest problem you solve? If you don’t currently solve a problem, then find one to solve.
Here’s a great example. There are lots of fanatic dog lovers in this world. They love to spoil their doggies and they hate to leave them. They might love travel, but haven’t indulged in a long time because they don’t want to leave “Fido” behind. You can become the solution provider by specializing in travel for dog lovers. You can become an expert on destinations, resorts, hotels, and even tours for people who want to bring their dogs. You could also become the expert on the best doggie day care places, websites for dog clothes, etc. The list goes on.
This is a real problem for them and you step in as the solution provider. Not many other people are providing this solution so you don’t have competition and your clients are willing to pay you more. In fact, I doubt you will ever get the argument that they can book it cheaper on Orbitz.
Figure out who you provide the solution for. It’s so important to be clear on who you are targeting. Money loves clarity, so get clear on your ideal client. In this example, your ideal client is clearly a dog lover/fanatic. You could get even more clear on your ideal client by narrowing it down to women dog lovers over 50. Or gay dog lovers.
Now that you know what solution you provide, and who you provide it for, it’s so much easier to craft your marketing message and figure out where to find them. In our example, you could reach out to local dog food specialists and figure out a great joint venture opportunity. Or you could advertise in a specialized magazine, which would cost a small fraction of what it takes to advertise on a grand scale.
Lastly, embrace and be open about why you provide that solution. There has to be passion and experience behind what you choose as your solution. If you don’t have a passion for dogs, it really makes no sense for you to pick the specialty in this example, for two reasons. One, you won’t be able to relate to your ideal client and offer advice, help, or solutions before they even ask. Second, running a business can be hard and you will encounter both peaks and valleys. You need something more than money to get you through the valleys. You need a passion about it. You need a strong ‘why.’ A good ‘why’ in our example could be a dog lover, who loves knowing that her clients’ pets are being well taken care of even when their caregivers are on vacation.
Now it’s your turn. Go through steps 1, 2 and 3 to craft a message that is no longer pushy or focused on products, but instead is solution-oriented. Try it out – on your website, consistently in your Facebook posts, when networking, etc., etc., etc. Then give it time and it’s certain to provide results.
Meredith Hill, ex-President of Hills of Africa Travel, founded the Global Institute for Travel Entrepreneurs (GIFTE) to empower frustrated and struggling travel consultants who weren’t getting the marketing support they needed. As the fastest growing industry organization dedicated to marketing education for travel professionals, GIFTE’s mission is to revolutionize the way travel advisors market and grow their businesses. GIFTE’s products and programs provide all the tools, resources and support travel professionals need to reach a whole new level of success in travel – one that includes making more money while making a difference in the lives of their clients. Learn more at www.travelbusinessu.com, or visit and “like” GIFTE’s Facebook Fan Page atwww.facebook.com/GlobalInstituteforTravelEntrepreneurs.