That sound you hear is time passing and it is making us all a bit anxious. Whatever has happened during the year, we can make what is left of 2020 more productive and move into 2021 with some force by gearing up a business plan. But never has the challenge been so great as we are all now operating in totally unfamiliar territory. The contradictory information, the tremendous social change occurring and the lack of certainty make planning more like a tarot card reading than a business exercise. Nevertheless, those of us serious about our industry must persist.
I still find some solace in a calendar. The seasons, the holidays, the rites of passage are all still right there. An important part of every business plan, and a good start at generating the appropriate mindset, is a marketing calendar. Too few travel consultants incorporate the use of a marketing calendar in their practice. Yet, without a marketing calendar, many opportunities for strong marketing efforts slip by either unnoticed or weakly implemented. This year those efforts may be more important than ever. We need to make ourselves heard, to ensure clients know the lights are still on.
Sit down with an annual calendar and mark these holidays and calendar events from this year and next: Valentine’s Day, Spring Break, the beginning of Summer Vacation, Father’s Day, Canada Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and any other holidays or remembrances where the people of your community might have days off from work or might travel. Now, back up three months
(less if you have to) and consider what marketing efforts you might initiate directed at those holiday opportunities. Clients with children would normally be planning their summer vacations right now. What is the family doing for New Year’s this year? Realize not everyone, maybe not even most, will be traveling this year. But we don’t want to be silent, we want to wish clients a great 4th of July, an anniversary, a birthday.
There has always been a difference between marketing and sales, as intertwined as the two may be. Now is the time to give a bit more weight to marketing, to show proof of life, to offer clients a vision of what a return to a more normal world might be. That little bit of hope may take root in unexpected places. That is our message this year. Talk about places your clients want to go, talk about places your clients may never have thought about going. Talk about places they have been. Engage with your clients.
When is your next newsletter going out? By when can you generate your next press release? When would be a good time to seek a speaking engagement via Zoom? Use your calendar to ensure that you have sufficient frequency and venues to stay top of mind and that your content for each is relevant to the seasonality.
If you spend a couple of hours doing the exercise above, you will be on your way to a marketing plan for the balance of the year and next. A good marketing calendar alerts you to the necessity for constant activity, the type of movement in which you must engage for your business to grow even when so few are traveling.
Good marketing requires frequency. Clients must hear your message over and over not only to remember it but to respond to it. Your challenge is to build an association between your name and the concept of travel in a period of inertia, so when a client thinks of you, they think of “that travel person” who gave them a bit of hope, something to dream about, something other than the 24 hour news cycle. Planning your marketing against a calendar is smart and provides a bit of structure in uncertain times.
No doubt much of 2020 is passing by with things left undone and uncertain. This year’s ball has an odd bounce to it. Renew your commitment to getting your best possible message across in a timely and frequent fashion.
Nothing succeeds like planning to succeed.