Before your client becomes a repeat client, before they ever book with you at all, they have to know you exist. In fact, the most difficult and expensive part of any marketing strategy is building brand awareness: alerting prospective clients to who you are and what you do. Too often, travel professionals market not according to a plan, but impulsively, with a heroic “give it a try” mentality. That certainly is one way to market, but tends to be error-prone and expensive.
Is there a better solution?
When it comes to marketing, think in terms of “Campaigns”: multi-tiered, consistent series of efforts to deliver your message to consumers. A campaign stands in contrast to isolated efforts to publicize or promote your business. A campaign is made up of coordinated efforts that arrive to the consumer from a variety of media with a consistent message. Note the key characteristics – the efforts are coordinated and they are consistent. Those two ingredients make marketing campaigns pay off in a way that single or sporadic efforts will not.
As a travel planner, you will have many opportunities to present your brand to consumers. There are advertising opportunities and possible speaking engagements, articles you can write and many methods of gaining referrals from your existing clients. However, unless you can coordinate your efforts, unless you can find a way to ensure that each marketing venue fits into a consistent, purposeful strategy, you will waste some portion of its value.
Thinking in terms of campaigns will keep you focused and will over the long term conserve your capital resources. When each effort is part of a campaign, you can more easily measure the results. You can determine what works and repeat your efforts, and ascertain what is not working to avoid wasting time and money. By reaching out to your existing and prospective clients in a number of different but coordinated venues, your company brand and message is more likely to be seen repeatedly and consistently, keeping you top of mind. Each message you send will be consistent and you will avoid confusing the consumer.
An example might be the advertising representative for a regional magazine that approaches you with a remnant rate on an ad in their next issue. While the rate might be good for the one effort, consider whether you will be able to consistently reach the readership in subsequent issues. Will remnant rates be available on a regular basis, or will this be a one-time opportunity with little probability of repeated exposure? If the latter, your better option may be to pass.
As you think through your marketing efforts, develop a campaign devised of a series of consistent, affordable programs that deliver your brand. Once you have a plan, implement it with a dedication to your strategy. Bringing this type of focus to your marketing efforts will reward you with a real return on your investment.