Do you have a written marketing plan? Do you have a written marketing budget? If not, you don’t have both oars in the water. Many travel professionals “wing it” and begin marketing at the first sign of business slowing down. The problem with doing things that way, of course, is timing. The business you have today likely resulted from your marketing efforts months ago. Likewise, your marketing efforts today may not pay off for some time.
Budgeting enforces the discipline necessary to actually calendar your marketing efforts. When spending real dollars, travel agents become very cognizant of the return on investment. In addition, the marketing budget can and should include such essentials as marketing collateral(business cards, flyers, capabilities brochures), websites, advertising, dues to local organizations and promotional items, all professionally produced. Having a marketing budget, and then wisely spending it, ensures that the travel agency is doing everything necessary to keep its profile high enough to gain mindshare in the community. Read the rest of this entry »
A travel agency can achieve a very effective public relations program for very little capital expenditure. However, to be effective, the program will almost certainly involve an extensive outlay of energy and effort. For the travel agent willing to put in the time necessary, a public relations campaign can be one of the most effective ways of raising the agency’s public profile. Public relations typically carries an inherent third-party endorsement. As a result, potential clients will feel more immediately confident in the expertise of the travel agent when the marketing message is received via a public relations channel. Read the rest of this entry »
Yesterday we used the example of leveraging your public relations efforts by sponsoring an event with a not-for-profit, an animal shelter. Continuing with that same example, we now want to involve the local press. An article written in the local paper will provide not only the publicity you are seeking for your event, but will raise the profile of your agency as readers associate it with a worthy cause.
The typical approach to involving the press is to craft a press release. Hopefully, you have been cultivating press relationships in your community prior to the time you need them. Even if you are without such first-hand knowledge of local press contacts, however, a bit of preparation can assist you in getting the appropriate attention you seek.
I often encounter a mindset that sees marketing as an expense. I suppose from the perspective of an accountant, that is absolutely accurate. However, in reality marketing should be viewed as an investment. Think of it this way: marketing is only expensive if it’s not working. If you made 5 dollars every time you spent two marketing dollars you would be spending money all day and be happy about it. Ideally, marketing is an investment.
We all live within the constraints of a budget. So this week we are going to address marketing on a shoestring, on choosing strategies that are smart and that work. Today, however, we are going to talk about avoiding turning our shoestrings into nooses – making mistakes with our marketing dollars that, like bad investments, are nothing but expensive errors. Read the rest of this entry »
Invest in yourself. Most knowledgeable marketing guides will indicate that for small service businesses, between 1% to 3% of your gross proceeds should be reinvested in marketing. Thus, if your Gross Revenues are $1,000,000 (commission income of approximately $100,000) a marketing budget of between $10,000 and $30,000 is a norm. However, not every outlay needs to be in actual dollars. Many of the marketing tactics we discuss daily in The 365 Guide are more labor than capital intensive. In fact, in a small service business like travel consulting a direct marketing approach is actually preferable to capital outlay since so much of the impact of the marketing message has to do with the people who own and operate the agency. The more the marketing plan involves direct involvement by the agency staff in events, speaking engagements, word of mouth campaigns and other public relations efforts, the lower the actual capital outlay is necessitated. Nevertheless, there is an important lesson in the simple and undeniable fact that to make money one has to spend some money. Read the rest of this entry »
If you have now chosen the distribution channels and tactics you wish to use in 2012, it is time to begin to tie your Marketing Plan back into your overall business plan and budget. You want to make sure that your Marketing Plan is realistic with regard to your budgets and overall capabilities. You want to be certain that your goals are measurable and achievable.
If you already have a year or more of travel consulting history behind you, the financial elements such as annual sales revenue, expenses and anticipated profit may well be established. However, it is important to now work your marketing plans into those goals. Your marketing plan, though it may increase some of your expenses, will also increase your revenues. Again, this is where your marketing calendar is so important. Use it as a way of tracking your anticipated progress and review it often. If you are not hitting your marks, both with regard to planned marketing and to your revenue goals, you can quickly adjust. Read the rest of this entry »