Tag Archives: Advertising

We work in the NOW world

I live in Norman, Oklahoma.  There’s a small university here and the University of Oklahoma is pretty good at football.  The Sooners played Alabama in the Sugar Bowl two weeks ago.  (A Thursday evening.)  While friends were relishing the upset victory, a video starts popping up on social media.  An Alabama fan goes crazy on an OU student.  Friday afternoon a story is posted – Bama Sugar Bowl mom ‘sorry’ but would ‘do it again if I had to’.  Okay, sympathy for the mom?  Wait… have you seen this video – the Crazy Bama Mom BEFORE attacking OU student?  All of that played out through social media within 36 to 48 hours.  Anyone pay attention?  The first video has been viewed nearly 3 million times.  The Yellowhammer story has more than 2,000 comments.  Who knows how many views?  And the third video has been viewed 391,000 times.  (Warning: videos and comments contain offensive images and language.)

So what?  What if the headline is “attraction GM goes crazy on family” or “restaurant owner goes crazy on diners” or “salmonella outbreak after banquet at Yourville convention center”?  We never know what is going to set something off or when a mobile phone is recording.  What could it be that potentially embarrasses the destination?  Maybe it’s not even an embarrassing situation.  Perhaps it’s a hurricane that hits the Gulf or massive flooding in the east or ice storm just before the Super Bowl?  Welcome to your job in the NOW World!  What do you need to prepared to work in the NOW World?

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1. You need to be ready… ready now… ready now for anything!  You need to have an emergency public relations plan.  The next chance you get, lock yourself away with your staff and imagine the 20 worst scenarios.  Just scan the headlines: water poison, bed bugs, salmonella, tornado, hurricane, scandal… Then think of the 20 you’d never think of – Crazy Bama Mom.  Doubt the Alabama Alumni office wasn’t prepared for that one!  Talk through what your response should/would be for each situation.  Type them up and store them away.

2. You need to realize we’re not in an 8am to 5pm job any longer.  Tornadoes don’t strike during business hours.  Videos of drunk fans go viral at any time!  If you’re the PR / Communications person for your office, you need to understand that you may be called back in even though it’s after 5pm or it’s during the weekend.  And if it needs reminding, comments on Facebook don’t end at 5pm, people don’t clock out and quit posting and watching videos on YouTube, and tweets are tweeted 24/7.

3. You need to understand that you can’t be passive any longer.  We are not in control of the message any more!  They are and they can post, tweet, pin, comment anything they want – and they do.  It’s as Dan Patrick said numerous times on Sportscenter: You can’t stop him.  You can only hope to contain him.

4. For the messages you are trying to control, you need to understand social media is not posting something once a day and never going back to view the comments or looking at it the next day when you sign in to post another message.  Social media is not loading up Hootsuite on Monday and never participating in the conversation.  (And if Hootsuite is your only portal to social media, I’d suggest shutting it down now.)  Social media is monitoring 24/7 or if you’re a small office, 16 to 18/7.

5. You need to understand you don’t have a private life any longer.  Can you cringe with me just imagining if that Crazy Bama Fan was your employee?  No, this isn’t a case of bad press is good press!  The press would love to run “Executive Director of CVB is Crazy Bama Fan”.  And your personal social media accounts aren’t personal either.  Don’t believe me?  Just ask Justine Sacco.  We have a cool job that allows us to experience a lot of cool things but the bad news is we don’t have a private life any longer.

Those are my initial thoughts of our working now in a NOW World.  Did I miss one or two?  Leave your comments below and thanks for reading!

Kansas Tourism Conference Summary

Tourism-Conference-logo-2013

The Kansas Tourism Conference theme was Capitalizing on Tourism.  (The conference was held in the Kansas capital Topeka.)  The sub-theme might as well have been Getting Back to Basics.  Roger Brooks opened the conference with a two-part full morning general session sharing Deadly Sins and the New Age of Tourism, Jerry Henry provided guidance on doing research on a shoestring budget, representatives from the state revenue office gave a transient guest (hotel/motel/bed) tax 101, and the state tourism office shared their research and strategy the next fiscal year.

No fireworks.  No glamour.  “Just” a back to basic conference packed with information.  The top nuggets are offered in this month’s 5 in Five:

1. Arguably Roger Brooks’ key takeaway was the command to “jettison the generic”.   All too often we want to present our destinations as attractive to every audience – young, old, rich, poor, family, single, etc.  What we wind up with is a very generic ad that doesn’t attract anyone.  While he didn’t present them, I reflected on Roger’s 40 Overused Words and Phrases to Avoid in Destination Marketing.  Review the list here and then count how many of them are in your ads and publications.

2. Roger suggested 80% of people use the internet before they buy.  While I have seen that number as low as 60% and as high as 95%, regardless it’s a reminder that consumers are using the internet more and more.  Based on that, Roger suggests 45% of a destination marketing budget should be spent on the web/digital/social.  (In case you’re wondering about the other 55% – 20, PR/media; 20, traditional advertising; 10 collateral; and 5 outdoor or trade shows.)

3. Did you know 70% of all spending takes place after 6pm?  I’ve never heard this but Roger sharing it opened a lot of eyes and changed a lot of paradigms as we were challenged to thing about how we should create – or reschedule – events to after 5pm.  Sure it means retail outlets and workers of the events don’t get home to 9pm or later, but want to attract the most spenders?  Start after 5pm.  Our communities’ farmer’s markets are Wednesday mornings.  Yep, a lot of people working at that time.

4. Clearly a testament to the quality of Roger Brook’s presentations when four of the five aha’s are from him, but I appreciated when he stated cities and towns should not hang their hat on a festival or event.  What about the other 364 days (or 51 weekends) of the year?  I reflected on a time I was driving to a meeting in beautiful southwest Oklahoma.  Outside Idabel was a billboard welcoming travelers to the Home of the Dogwood Festival.  The festival is the first Saturday of April.  I was passing through weeks after.  I instantly thought “there isn’t any other reason to visit for the next 50 weeks!?”  (When in fact there is a lot to do in Idabel and McCurtain County.)

5. The last takeaway isn’t going to help your marketing plan or provide any ROI.  It’s merely professional development.  Developer Jack DeBoer welcomed the attendees at the Statehouse and provided sage advise from his book Risk Only Money.  The best was he shared if he had it to do all over again, he would listen more.

Thanks for reading.

Five Things You Should Be Doing on Social Media But Aren’t

Social media… the marketing world never paid attention to it in the late 90s when GeoCities and SixDegrees were starting.  We didn’t engage with MySpace in the early 2000s.  But then Facebook happened.  It hit 200 million users.  Then 400 million.  (Now 900 million.)  YouTube became the second largest search engine.  Twitter reports 1 billion tweets.  Okay, you’ve got marketer’s attention!

Conferences began offering breakout sessions on social media.  Then keynote speakers.  Now full conferences.  (How Dave Serino’s SoMeT didn’t make the list I’ll never know.)  Books, consultants, reporting standards, even it’s own awards.

Marketing departments and DMOs are hiring New Media Managers.  We’re cutting out print ’cause we can post and tweet for free.  Some are doing it well, some are, well, doing it.  While I don’t profess to have the silver bullet to conquering social media, might I suggest Five Things You Should Be Doing on Social Media… But Aren’t:

1. Using LinkedIn… while LinkedIn’s 225 million users pales in comparison to Facebook’s 900 million, LinkedIn is still nothing to push aside.  Most conference sessions tend to discuss Facebook, YouTube and Twitter for attracting the leisure visitor but LinkedIn can be valuable at attracting conferences and meetings.  I have more than 850 LinkedIn connections compared to nearly 500 Facebook “friends”.  Professionals on LinkedIn tend to connect quicker than those on Facebook so you’re able to grow your network quicker.

How do you use it?  Post.  Your office probably has a company LinkedIn page but do you ever post?  If a DMO, post new features or the TripAdvisor rankings of your convention center or a new hotel.  Sales person has a new certification?  An attractions’ new exhibits.  (Off site functions remember?)

Engage… comment on posts so meeting planners keep seeing Joe Gesortenflort, VisitAnywhereville.  Join groups and again, comment on posts.  When you finally call that meeting professional, they’ll be familiar having seen your name numerous times.

If you have significant news, personal message your connections.  We’re focusing on Facebook and not using LinkedIn.  Try it.

2. Monitoring… what are meeting planners and visitors saying about your destination?  Here’s an idea – create a dummy account on Facebook.  Like the association pages.  Then monitor the dialogue.  “Oh crap!  We’re going back to Anywhereville!?  The 2010 conference sucked!”  Engage your PR department and manage a poor perception.  See what the meeting planners are posting about working with caterers, convention centers, or, gasp – your staff!  Social media allows us the opportunity to hear the chatter!

3. Prospecting… Just went on Twitter.  Typed in “Oklahoma Conference” and before the song on the radio ended, I identified 15 conferences that someone could target.  “Association”, “Convention”, “Summit”, “Conclave”, prospect other states business… search LinkedIn too.

4. Engaging… Social media is not a ‘to-do’ each day.  “Posted on Facebook.  Next task.”  Never to look at Facebook again until the next day when you post again.  (Or worse, you use Hootsuite and schedule all of your posts for the week and never look at Facebook.)  If your posts are truly engaging, people are commenting and asking questions.  They’re posting on your wall and sending personal messages.  All which needs to be responded to in a timely manner.

5. Monitoring (2)… especially on weekends.  An office posted about a parade one Saturday morning.  A prospective attendee inquired about the time.  The account wasn’t being monitored and thus, wasn’t seen until Monday morning.

In an experiment, I picked on the Des Moines and Wisconsin Dells CVBs and the Wisconsin state tourism office this July while on vacation.  While driving through Des Moines my tweet inquired about lunch options.  Albeit it was a short time frame, but I didn’t get a response until after lunch (and we had found some awesome BBQ.)  I tweeted over and over about the water slides, cheese and week in Wisconsin.  The Wisconsin Dells CVB and state tourism office only responded once.  “Looks like you had a good week.”  No alternative suggestions, no engagement, no customer service.

Social media isn’t easy.  But it isn’t overbearing either.  These are but five things you should be doing on social media but aren’t.  Is there a sixth or seventh?  What successes are you having?  Comment below and let me know.

Thanks for reading!

Town and Gown Relationships for Destination Marketing

In completing my Certified Destination Management Executive (CDME) through Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI) I had the opportunity to draft a paper on Town and Gown Relationships for Destination Marketing. What follows is the executive summary and excerpt of the conclusion. A link to the full paper follows. I hope by my sharing you are able to glean one nugget that will help in your destination marketing efforts.

As with any partners, town and gown relationships can be either cooperative or adversarial working relationships. City governments and neighborhoods either choose to stay at odds with local universities or colleges or, alternatively, develop programs to communicate and develop amicable partnerships. Destination Marketing Organizations (DMO) in “college towns” are no different. Communication with nearly thirty colleagues revealed that some DMOs are just now establishing relationships with university departments and representatives while others have long established relationships. This paper will reveal five ways how DMOs have collaborated with their local universities to drive visitation to both the campus and community.

DMOs are collaborating with universities to drive travel, tourism and economic development to their communities. This paper has outlined a number of action items for such collaboration. As with most business ventures, they start with relationships – the most critical of which are:

– President’s office. Discuss your interests and goals. How could he/she “open doors for you”? Be mindful that the President could have another goal in mind, however, if you work on his/her goal first, he/she may have more willingness to promote and assist with the DMO’s project(s).

– Recruitment office. Can the community’s information provided by the DMO be included in the recruitment packages? As students begin their schooling and parents are introduced to the school, how can the DMO be a part of the orientation process?

– Athletics department. Can the DMO recruit events that could utilize the university fields and/or facilities? Can the DMO assist in recruiting regional or national championships or simply help service championships that are already coming to the community? You can also discuss clustering community events with athletic events on campus.

– Deans and Department Heads. Would they be open to communications to university staff soliciting meetings and conventions? Being experts in their fields Deans, department heads, and professors are probably speaking at conferences that could be attracted to the community.

The full paper is here: CDME Final Paper Edit. Please note that the paper is an edited version. (CDME only allows for so long of papers.) A longer, supplement with much more content and information from those 30 colleagues will be posted soon.

Thanks for reading!

The Marketing Voices in Your Head

What’s the motivating slogan that runs through your head pushing you up the hill at the end of your run, ten more minutes on the elliptical, or three more reps of lifting weights? Right now I’m using Saucony’s “Find Your Strong” as I recover from a bum hammy and try to get back into shape.

In the business world we might have

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world. “ Mahatma Gandhi

“The only limits are, as always, those of vision.” James Broughton

or “Yesterday’s home runs don’t win today’s games.” Babe Ruth

If you’re a Christian, you might recite Joshua 1:9 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

As we head into this year of marketing our destinations (and perhaps planning and budgeting for next year,) what are the motivating slogans that might be running through our heads?

What will be your web presence? This was a headline on a blog over a year ago but because the blogger hasn’t blogged since then, it remains on My Yahoo in my RSS feeds. I don’t delete it ’cause I love the constant reminder that it’s not just about our website, it’s about what all the other websites are saying about our destination.

As the post states, your “strategy should include goals, objectives, target markets, key messages, key words, content management, resources required to add and build your web presence.”

Another way of saying it?  “Online is no longer an individual strategy. Online should be a part of every strategy.”

Sales is always both/and, not either/or. Pulled from 10 Realities That Can Rescue Your Community From Group Sales Obsession, Reyn Bowman reminds us that “marketing includes sales and sales requires marketing. Sales is just one of several important marketing activities and overall marketing is a blend of activities, including but unrestricted by, direct sales. Overall marketing includes diagnostics/measurements (aka research), branding (aka image), earned media (aka public relations), paid media (aka advertising), and post-arrival circulation (aka point-of-sale sales).”

YouTube is the number two search engine… still ringing in my ears from DMAI’s Convention this past summer motivating me to develop content for YouTube! Again, it doesn’t have to be Steven Spielberg HD.  I heard a few times “content over quality”. And keep ’em short! 30 seconds.  No one is going to watch your 8 minute mini movie about your destination.

Email marketing is the new mobile marketing. I highlighted this a few months back.  A study revealed strong increases in the interaction of mobile devices with email marketing.  In the first six months of 2012, 36 percent of emails sent were opened on a mobile device – a 32 percent increase over the last half of 2011, when 27 percent of sent emails were opened via a mobile device.  What is it now!? Dare think it’s 50%

Think email is dead?  Not as mobile grows.  And speaking of mobile…

“We used to say ‘it’s not too late to be early to mobile’. I’m here to tell you you can no longer be early to mobile.”  Again, another from DMAI’s Convention.  The facts shared: -smart phones out number desk top computers; – in 2014, mobile search will pass desk top search. If you do not have a mobile version of your website, stop reading now and call your webmaster.  Seriously!  Stop reading and call.  Mobile is here!

Or should I say “Just Do It!”?

Thanks for reading!

Secret Shopping Visitor Guides

It really simply started as a curiosity about what other destinations were doing with their Visitor Guides.  But then as co-workers will tell you, my ideas get bigger and bigger!  How are other DMO’s Visitor Guide request processes?  How long does it take Guides to arrive?  Are they sent first class or bulk?  What size are they?   And then to the original question, what features are destinations including in the Guides?

Where else does one get the answers but to ‘secret shop’ Visitor Guides.  So we sent off – or attempted to send off for 60 Guides.  Major destinations.  Smaller destinations but primarily ‘benchmark’ destinations – University cities or cities of 100,000 in population.  The results?

Delivery Of 60 attempts, twice we were unable to even find an ability to request a guide online.  Two more fulfillment pages were broken.  Eight only offered online versions and we weren’t able to order a printed Guide.  So we were only able to order 48 Guides.  Surprisingly, we have only received 39.  Nine requests for Visitor Guides have gone unfulfilled.  Sure there’s got to be some explanation but perhaps that’s the next study – my asking the nine why they never sent a Guide. 

Delivery II The average Guide took 6 days for delivery.  Thus the challenge to our staff – 5 days or less!  Matter of fact, I have a side anecdotal story below about the importance of a speedy delivery!

Delivery III Only one Guide was not sent First Class.  Explains the average six day delivery.

Annual or Multiple Issues per Year We experimented printing three issues per year.  For too many reasons we’ve decided to return to an annual.  We’re right in line as only seven destinations don’t print an annual and those seven – the larger destinations – each printed twice a year.

Size Apparently out is the adage that Guides need to be small, pocket-sized for the visitor to put in their back pocket or purse.  23 of the 39 were magazine sized 8.5 X 11 (or a close size to that, 7.5 X 11.)  12 were digest size (5 X 8 or a close size to that, 4 X 9.)  The other three were 8 X 8, 7 X 9 and 4 X 7.

Length All over the board!  The smallest Guide was 10 pages.  Lengthiest – Orlando’s 233 pager.

Inserts / Enclosures A handful of destinations included a detailed Calendar of Events.  Six enclosed a thank you letter for requesting the guide.  And one destination hand wrote a note and dropped it in the envelope with the Guide!

Content –  Social Media meets print  There are numerous instances in which destinations have included Social Media content in the Visitor Guide.  Detroit’s is the most prevalent.  Detroit includes these “Travel Tips” throughout the Guide which the content is pulled from social media.

Detroit Travel Tip

They even go full-page with the social:

Detroit Social Page

Durham has similar features throughout their Guide:

Durham Fan Favorites

But Detroit keeps pulling from social media and nicely promotes the online world through their “Depict the D” page.  Click here to see the page.

Content – Use of QR Code While I bashed QR Code use last month, I will hand it to Columbia and Grand Rapids for both utilizing QR Codes to bring the online world to the print world.  Columbia offers the reader a chance to scan and have a walking tour of their downtown:

Columbia Walking Tour

Grand Rapids provides a map of their smart phone tour.  The page from the Guide has 10 QR Codes that a visitor can scan and learn more about the public art.

Content – Research back to Detroit where they point blank say ‘We Need Your Help’ and give you a QR Code to scan so you can answer a few questions about their Guide.

Detroit Survey

If you ever wanted to benchmark your Visitors Guide with others, there you go.  That’s a rough summary of what Visitor Guides are looking like today.  Thanks for reading.

Oh, by the way, here’s that story…

In the midst of our Visitor Guide research above, our family is planning our three family vacation next summer.  Thanksgiving Day my brother and I discussed three destinations.  I perused three destination websites.  My wife is still a printed piece person and heck, I being in the industry doing the above research thought here’s two more that I can test.  So, I requested three Visitor Guides.
Tuesday after Thanksgiving, the first one arrived.  (That’s TUESDAY after Thanksgiving it ARRIVES!  Standing O for someone or their mail house working on Friday or Saturday to get that Guide out!)  Wednesday my wife flipped through it while my daughter practiced.  My wife started texting me ads and pictures from the Guide.  She gets home and starts showing the family pages that were dog-eared.  When my son asked ‘can we go there.’  My wife declared, ‘Yes.  This is where we’re going next summer!’
But, what, um, uh, we have two more Guides on the way!  We have two more options!
Not in my wife’s mind.  Destination 1 beat the other two to the mailbox.  She’s already studied the Guide.  She liked what she saw.  She’s made up her mind!
Destination 2’s Guide arrived two days later.  She hasn’t even looked at it.  Destination 3’s Guide is yet to arrive.  Doesn’t matter.  Game over.

QR Codes – Pointless or Effective Tool?

QR Codes… (Quick Response Code).  They’re the little squares with dots.  (See below.)  A consumer scans the code with their smart phone and, well, in most cases, becomes very disappointed in the results!  Most of the time we’re only being sent to a website – and most of the time, the websites aren’t even mobile friendly.  One gets the desktop version of the website that is difficult to read and navigate on an iPhone or android smart phone.  Fail!

I’ve become obsessed with QR Codes mainly from the ‘let’s-see-how-this-one-is-done-poorly’ sense.  I’ve heard how they’re supposed to be used and successful ways they are being used (shared later.)  But first, let’s review the top five worst ways QR Codes have been used.

I’m not quite sure which one is my favorite so they’re in reverse alphabetical order.

Website Bring up the offending website and there it was – right in the middle of the home page.  Naturally I’m curious so I get my phone and try to scan it.  You can’t scan a QR Code off a computer monitor!  Did no one think of trying this before they went live with the site?

I was really curious where the code would lead me so I printed the screen shot, scanned the code and you know what it allowed me to do?  See a picture!  Um, just put the picture on the website and save us a lot of time and frustration and you a lot of humiliation!

Television Commercial Yep, there it was in the corner of the advertisement.  I guess they’re placing it in the ad based on research that more and more are watching TV with laptops, pads or smartphones in hand but for those of us that don’t have it in hand, can one grab their phone, access the scan app, and get up to the TV in time to scan the code?  And based upon the fact you can’t scan a code off a computer monitor, can you scan one off a TV monitor?

Restaurant Menu The code was on the back of the menu.  I scanned it.  It took me to the restaurant’s website – that WAS MOBILE FRIENDLY!  It was a desktop version.  As I flipped through the site, it shared the location of the restaurant and their menu because when I’m sitting in the booth in the restaurant reading the menu, I need to know where the restaurant is and the large menu is too difficult to read so I want to squint at my smartphone to see what kind of burger I want!

Billboard Who in the flip is going to slam on their breaks on the Interstate to stop on the side of the road to scan the code off a billboard?  Genius the one that thought of that use!

Airline Magazine Um, VP of Marketing Genius… we’re on a plane.  and our phones are supposed to be off… and there’s no internet… and one needs a phone that is turned on and internet to follow the code… and, ah forget it!

So after all that sarcasm and ridicule, how are QR Codes best used?

“Getting the consumer one step closer to purchasing” was the best way I’ve ever heard it.  Got them interested in your destination?  “Scan here to book your hotel room” or “see our weekend trip packages” or “purchase your tickets to the (museum, theatre, park, etc.)”  

Don’t give them something they already have, give them something new!  Most likely they are scanning the code from a visitors guide or advertisement.  Don’t take them to more reading.  Take them to a video that then takes them to your hotel reservation system (or ticketing page if you’re an attraction.

I’ve seen QR Codes in ads to travel writers.  The code took the writer to a page on the website that had dozens of story ideas.

Colleagues have QR Codes on their business cards linking new contacts to their Vcard saving time of typing in the contact information!

Put them on conference badges so when one scans it, they have the attendees’ contact info.

Sign at an expo booth.  “Scan to register to win!”

Receipt… have them directed to your TripAdvisor or Yelp or UrbanSpoon listing so they can give a good review or so they can join your email list.

There’s seven.  Bet with your and other reader’s comments, we can come up with seven more!  Comment and share your example of how to use a QR Code.  You can share your QR blunders too!  I always enjoy a good laugh!

Email Marketing Part II

Last month I shared some tips and ideas about email marketing.  Apparently I’m not the only one discussing email marketing these days.

Consider these recent articles:

Five Ways to Create an E-Mail Marketing Campaign That People Will Notice Entrepreneur.com

In a world where social media gives businesses more immediate ways to connect with customers, is email marketing still relevant? It appears so. In fact, the volume of email marketing messages remained at record-setting levels in June, according to research director at Responsys, and retail email volume will grow about 20 percent this year thanks to a shift away from old-school direct mail and print. That makes for a more crowded party. Your emails are competing with millions of others, which means you must be intentional in your efforts to create messages that truly engage your customers. Here’s how. more

Nineteen (19!) Ideas for Growing Your Email List MarketingProfs.com

What would you rather have, a big list with dismal conversion rates or a smaller list targeting a highly engaged audience?  Thought so.  For a healthy opt-in email list, quality always trumps quantity, and here are 19 budget-friendly ways to get the list you want.  What you’ll find here are a few new twists to familiar tactics, along with real results and examples, to help you implement these ideas more effectively yourself.  more

Email Marketing – the New Mobile Marketing Search Engine Watch

A new study has revealed strong increases in the interaction of mobile devices with email marketing. In the first six months of 2012, 36 percent of emails sent were opened on a mobile device – a 32 percent increase over the last half of 2011, when 27 percent of sent emails were opened via a mobile device. That’s massive in the span of just a few months. What’s it mean? Email marketing is becoming mobile marketing.  more

4 Ways to Integrate Social Media into Your Email Marketing American Express Open Forum

Despite the rumors and meteoric rise of social media in recent years, email marketing is far from becoming a lost art form. Instead, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and other social media platforms can provide serious momentum to an e-mail campaign and vice versa. But exactly how do you go about blending these two approaches? more

Email Marketing Lessons from Seinfeld MarketingProfs.com

Although the iconic 1990s sitcom “Seinfeld” might not seem the most likely source of practical advice, some of its most memorable moments provide lessons for improving your email marketing. more

Hope you garner one or two nuggets from these!  We’re constantly learning in our office and I’m reading articles and blogs trying to get better at it.  As I read and put it into practice, I’ll share more with you.

Talk to you next month.

Marketing – As Simple as Send and Receive

Go to any tourism conference, marketing seminar or ‘lunch and learn’ and they’re still all a buzz about social media.  And I get it.  With 955 million accounts, who wouldn’t want to be on Facebook!?But what if I told you those were ‘small potatoes’!?  The real promised land has 3.4 billion accounts.  That’s billions with a ‘B’ Facebook!  And it’s expected to grow to 3.8 billion by 2014.  What is it?  E-mail.

While we’re trying to discover the secret of Facebook – post in the morning, post in the afternoon, ask a question, just state something, use a picture, always link to the website… good old email just sits there saying “Put a couple things in me and hit send.”

It’s a little trickier than that and we’ll try to uncover some tips as we rediscover E-mail.
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Build your database…It only makes sense.  Before you start marketing through e-mail, you need to build your database.  How?  The simplest is to ask for it.  Someone call for information?  Ask “Would you like to regularly receive information on X?  What’s your email address?”  Get real bold and ask if they have a friend or family member that might be interested in your e-mails.  Have something on your webpage so they can sign-up for your e-mails.  Give them incentives to sign-up.  All it may take is the chance to “get the inside scoop on what’s new!”There’s countless other ways.  Just type ‘how to build email database’ in a search engine or click here.

Use a Service… If you compile any size of a database, you won’t be able to manage it through Outlook.  You’ve got to use an Email Marketing Service.  Boomerang, GoDaddy, MailChimp, Benchmark… I use Constant Contact.  Their subscriptions are based on he number of e-mails in the database not on the number of e-mails sent.  If you’d like to see a recent review to help you decide which service is best for you, click here.

Segment… So if it costs the same to send one email or 30 emails a month, send more and send them to specific groups.  Have a group that only wants to know about art exhibits?  And another wants all the new shops.  Golf, outdoors, family fun, history, concerts, wine… you get the picture!

As you’re signing up people, ask them what their interests are.  “We don’t want to waste your valuable time!  We only want to send you the information you want.”  Then set up groups in your marketing service for the spa specials or sports events.

Less is more… General rule of thumb is three pieces of information.  The big thing.  A secondary thing and the other secondary thing.  Keep it short.  You can always use “for more information, go here” with here being your website or blog.

Picture is worth a… Break up the text with a picture.  Give the eye something to be attracted to!  It doesn’t have to be Ansel Adams.  Just capture the spirit of what you’re trying to promote.

There’s so much more to e-mail marketing!  We’re constantly learning in our office and I’m reading articles and blogs trying to get better at it.  As I read and put it into practice, I’ll share more with you.

Talk to you next month.

DMAI Convention Summary

Between seafood, the Space Needle, the Experience Music Project and my 19th Hard Rock Cafe, I did take in the sessions at DMAI’s Convention in Seattle.  I typed out action items or concepts for the staff and I to prioritize upon my return and had 54 items on the list – and that was before the last day of sessions!
I could make this very short and say Mobile.  The end.  But really there were five key concepts that I took away from Seattle: Mobile, Video, Research, Partnerships, and Service.
Mobile… Okay, Mobile could have been all five concepts. The gal from Google said it best, “We used to say ‘it’s not too late to be early to mobile’. I here to tell you you can no longer be early to mobile.” Facts shared: -smart phones out number desk top computers; – in 2014, mobile search will pass desk top search. If you do not have a mobile version of your website, stop reading now and call your webmaster. Seriously! Stop reading and call. Mobile is here!
The speaker from Google said, “Online is no longer an individual strategy. Online should be a part of every strategy.” From what I heard, insert Moble every place you have Online in those two statements.

Video… If you missed the fact two years ago, YouTube is the number two search engine.  And it hasn’t dropped last year or this.  Average time on a website is 48 seconds.  Average person spends 5 minutes and 50 seconds on the web.  What are they doing the other 5 minutes and 2 seconds?  Watching Video.  Video must be on everything and on every main section of your website.

And I know you’re gonna ask, does it have to be all Steven Spielburg, beautiful, HD? I heard a few times “content over quality”.  And keep ’em short!  30 seconds.  No one is going to watch your 8 minute mini movie about your destination.

Research… Everything we do starts and ends with Research.  Literally!

A Visitor Profile Study and Potential Customer Study are the minimum two that should be done before you begin any promotions.  After everything, do a Conversion Study to see if the leads generated even came.  There’s countless others but those are the minimum three.  (I’m going to attempt to get samples of each and post them on the site.)

Partnerships… This isn’t about the trend of DMOs moving from memberships to partnerships, it’s the reminder that without the hotels, restaurants, attractions, retail outlets, cab companies, sport facilities, conference center(s), etc., we have no destination to market!  Include your partners on the Mobile strategies.  Work with them on production of Videos.  Something they really want to know?  Add a question to your research.  And it’s okay to ask for financial assistance.  They are a partner!  Keep them as a partner or develop them as a Partner!

Services… You know it’s important when Convention Services had it’s own session!  The Certified Tourism Ambassador program or your own, local hospitality training program.  They’re all important!  We can do all the research, optimize our site for search, place all the pretty ads but if the traveler comes to our destination and is not met with outstanding service, they’re going to leave having not had a nice experience and they’ll probably Tweet about it or post it on Facebook.  (I did Monday night!  See more below.)

Good thing is only the first two are really expenses.  If you absolutely have to, you can do the research your self.  Partnerships and simple (and if done right, revenue) and Service development costs little to nothing.

Talk to you next month.  I need to get some Nirvana downloaded to my iPod.  Been craving some grunge since I landed.