More than fourteen years ago, Tom Peters wrote “The Brand Called You” for FastCompany magazine. The concept was simple, but profound. Each of us is our own brand. Whether in the context of a larger company or on our own, we brand ourselves by our actions, the way we dress, the opinions we hold and, ultimately, the company we keep. Further, to the degree that we promote our individual brand successfully, our own careers and the fortunes of the businesses with which we associate prosper.
The concept of personal brand has profound implications for customer loyalty and retention programs. We have established relationships as the key ingredient to customer loyalty. People form relationships with people, especially in service oriented businesses like travel consulting. The quality or the relationship you and your associates are capable of developing with clients will determine your repeat business. Read the rest of this entry »
We are devoting this week to the concept of branding your travel agency. A brand is a short cut – when your brand is strong, clients and potential clients that have been exposed to your brand will think of you when they think of travel. Your brand will carry your company’s message and, as a result, your company will have a distinct market advantage. But these good results can only happen if you are communicating your brand to the market clearly and in a consistent manner. Further, your brand must appear with sufficent frequency to gain consumer mindshare. A quick examination of each of these elements can help you to better understand the importance of communicating your brand. Read the rest of this entry »
Are you recognizable? Take a look at the items within your line of sight. Recognize any brands? Who made the phone, the computer you are working on, the printer sitting on its stand? The chances are pretty good on each is a logo which acts as a symbol for the company’s brand. When you see the apple with a bite taken out of its right side, you know it’s not an apple – it’s an Apple.
As I indicated in my Publisher’s Corner article today, a company’s visual system is a very important aspect of marketing. Most visible is the company’s logo, but the type face, the colors you use and the layout are all key components of making the whole work. We tend to pay the most attention to the logo, but over time the elements may begin to drift away from the standard you originally set. Read the rest of this entry »
TRO is devoting the next few weeks to assisting agents in developing a 2009 Marketing Plan. Follow along with us each day to gain the traction you need to make 2009 your best year ever.
Now that we know which Distribution Channels we will use in our 2009 Marketing Plan, we need to develop the tactics necessary to approach each channel successfully. Before we do, however, we have one more important step to consider – our Points of Contact. 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 Read the rest of this entry »
Your email address is an important promotional tool. It is a vital component of your branding. This is true even if you are an employee in a 40 person agency. You are a brand.
The email addresses above do not mean business – they signify free, consumer oriented services. Often, the emails that come from these accounts carry superfluous advertising – the price of the “free” account. Addresses like these say that you are either new to the digital world or that this is not a professional business message.
Register your own business domain. No doubt, good, creative domain names are getting harder to find. Using your own name as a domain is a popular way of quickly finding an available domain to use: an example would be “travel@BettyMorris.com”
Each time a client or a potential client sees your professional address, your brand is reinforced. You want your clients to view you as a professional. Your email address is a part of your professional tool set. Don’t let a poorly chosen email address dull that image.
They get no respect. They are used for note taking and for bookmarking. Too often, they are an after-thought ordered at the last minute with little care put into their design. But business cards are important marketing tools, small paper ambassadors for your business that remain in the field constantly reminding others of your brand. It is highly likely that of all the advertising and marketing collateral you produce and use, your business card is the one piece that will be encountered and read by the most people.
Perhaps it is difficult to wax poetic about business cards, but they are important to you business. Given the size and cost, it is hard to imagine a more cost-effective tool. Business cards are your surrogate self, your persona…a stand-in, and just as with your personal appearance, first impressions count. Take care in selecting the design of your card. In the travel industry you have a wide range of options, from formal business cards to highly creative dual purpose cards that are also magnets or other novelty. Spend time examining other business cards and choose a design that you like. Let the card reflect the personality of your business, the “archetype” that defines the character of your travel practice. Take the cards you like best with you to the printer – they see a lot of cards and chances are good that the printer will have other samples and ideas for you to consider.
By all means, avoid perforated business cards that are printed on a home printer, and do not compound the error by using clip art: “do it yourself” IS NOT a message that travel agents want to convey to the public. Have a professional design your logo and have a printer produce the card on quality paper. If you have an advanced certification, put it on the card. If you belong to an industry organization, put it on the card. Make sure the card clearly establishes you as a travel agent either through your company name or a tag line. Make sure your email address and company web site, if you have one, are listed on the card along with your phone number. List your cell phone only if you are willing to answer it at all times in a professional manner.
Finally, order in a quantity sufficient to spread them liberally. Have your cards with you at all times. Keep extras in your day planner and briefcase. Hand them out to everyone you meet in a business context. Give extras to good clients to provide to others as a referral. Place them in letters that you write.
The future of your travel planning practice may well be in the cards.
If you want a good idea of how others see your image as a travel consultant, look at all of your “points of contact” – those places where the client comes into contact with your image. Look at your business cards, your logo and letter head. Does your email address indicate a professional or a consumer? Is the artwork professionally Read the rest of this entry »