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 presentation formats, our manner of dress and even the places where we meet with clients. The sum total of our points of contact add up to form our image. The more professional our image, the more confidence clients have when it comes time to turn thousands of hard earned dollars over to us for their vacation. Needless to say, therefore, our points of contact must be kept in top condition. The reality, however, is we often create our points of contact independently of our mission statement and any guiding touch point and each becomes a separate marketing tool unrelated to the others or neglected after months of use.
Evaluation of your points of contact forces us to take a hard, honest look at ourselves. To project a professional image, you must use professional tools. Too many agents use logos that look like clip art and free consumer email addresses. No doubt it is cheaper to do it yourself than to hire a professional, but a “do-it-yourself” message is not one that agents want to impart to their clients. An email address that ends in “aol” is a message that says “consumer”. The “free” email often has an advertisment in it for some third party company. An email coming from an AOL, Yahoo, or (shudder) “Hotmail” address is not professional. Likewise, it is a smart move to have a professional design your logo. Clip art invariably looks like clip art. You can amortize the investment you will make in quality materials over the entire life of your business, an investment well-made. A good professional artist will design graphics that can move from your business card to your stationary to your website.
Next, make sure that all of your marketing collateral is consistent. Does each tell a consistent story about you? Is your personality and expertise at the center of each? Is the logo the same on all? Make sure that each piece supports your branding and delivers your message in a clear, concise manner. Eliminate collateral that no longer has relevance and focus on a few strong pieces. At the core are your business cards and stationery. Perhaps you have a “capabilities” brochure. Your itineraries are an important point of contact.
Take a look at your website, blog or Facebook page. Think about the impression it leaves on viewers. Is it distinctively you or does it look like one of hundreds? Is there really any reason for a client to visit? How about your newsletter? Importantly, don’t examine them as separate tools but rather as a part of the larger whole of your brand. Does everything work well together?
Marshalling your sales and marketing collateral is hard work but don’t let that stop you. The effort is absolutely necessary if you want to stand out from the crowd. Keep pushing forward until each piece tells your story in a way that makes you proud.
Exercise – Review each point of contact for a consistent and professional look and feel. Examine the copy, examine the graphical layout. Try to observe your collateral with the eye of a third party. What would you think if your competition was using your collateral? Ask your harshest friendly critic to look over your materials. Swallow hard and be willing to listen. Your professionalism is at stake.
Review each point of contact including your emails, the flyers you produce, your newsletters and website. Give everything a freshened, coherent look.