Get the fundamentals of your marketing strategy right and the path to success will be far smoother, says Advantage Travel Partnership’s David Forder
In a world where the marketing landscape is ever changing, opportunities for cost-effective solutions to grow a business can often present themselves, making it hard to know which route to choose.
Embracing technology through direct and digital marketing tactics is a great way to engage new and existing customers, but generally this works well only when the basics have been covered.
With margins being squeezed and heavy regulatory burdens, independent travel agencies are having a tough time. In isolation it’s unlikely marketing will be the single silver bullet; however, a well thought out marketing strategy could become a golden goose.
At the Advantage Travel Partnership, we’re bearing witness to success stories aplenty, with some agency members enjoying 20% year- on-year growth and new businesses opening almost every month.
Some of the greatest successes are coming from our Advantage Managed Services (AMS) members, a group of agencies run by people with a particularly strong entrepreneurial spirit and who appreciate a little extra help with certain aspects of their business.
A well thought out marketing strategy should form the bedrock of a business’s foundations. The business proposition and the communication strategy will drive leads, create a customer base and build advocacy – the very nutrients a healthy bottom line craves.
We live in an age where digital marketing opportunities are omnipresent, and on the face of it offer great value. It is all too easy to be drawn in by that big new shiny marketing idea, without ensuring the elementary marketing principles have been covered.
I’m not suggesting new ideas should be avoided, but I believe in making informed decisions about marketing tactics that fit with an overarching marketing strategy.
I would urge business owners to firstly define their brand proposition and develop their marketing strategy before embarking on potentially costly marketing activity.
Understanding what it is that sets your business apart from the competition, and the compelling reasons why clients would choose to spend their money with you, will make planning much simpler, and ROI on marketing spend more likely.
Once you know your strengths, you can play to them and use them to understand which parts of the market you are going to focus on.
Putting the customer at the heart of your business and developing a targeting and segmentation strategy formed around your core brand strengths will give you a clear vision for your marketing strategy.
This encompasses everything from the communication platforms you use and the tactics you embrace to the product, messaging, and offers you broadcast.
When marketing budgets are small but still a significant investment for a business, the requirement to achieve ROI is very important.
Starting from the ground up will reduce the risk factor. Add to that the importance of applying a test-and- learn approach and you can slowly build your marketing strategy around your successes and begin to adopt new tactics.
In practice, defining a marketing strategy will come through a structured approach to analysing the business. Following these five simple steps will put you on the right road:
1. Situation Analysis – define your company, products and services.
2. Describe your target audience.
3. List your marketing goals.
4. Develop the marketing communications strategies and tactics you’ll use.
5. Set your marketing budget.
Finally, throw into the mix the importance of capturing good data (customer data and campaign analytics) and you will begin to gain the insights needed to really drive your business forward and grow at a time when others may not.
If you are struggling to make your marketing work, getting back to basics could be exactly what your business needs.