When I first started my travel business, I found it so frustrating that finding my ideal prospect was like looking for a needle in a haystack. I would read books about marketing but most of the techniques I read about were more pertinent to retail businesses that offered products and services for any average Joe.
I don’t mean this in a critical way. For example, if you are a chiropractor, dentist, or car wash service – most residents of your local area have a need for your service. Traditional “guerrilla” style marketing works well for these types of businesses.
But not every average Joe in my local area had an immediate desire to travel to Africa. For many, travel to Africa is a once in a lifetime dream –so there might be a desire, but now is not the time. And for many more, travel to Africa is not even on the agenda! You might feel a similar frustration with trying to sell the type of travel you want to sell.
After getting frustrated with many marketing books, I decided my ticket to finding clients was PR (public relations.) I figured if I could get Hills of Africa written about in all the glossy travel magazines, in the New York Times Travel section and maybe even on TV, good clients would come in a stream, over and over and over again.
So, I hired a PR specialist. On paper, she had some GREAT travel PR connections – she had worked for and been mentored by Peter Greenberg (NBC’s Today Show’s Travel Editor) and her aunt was the PR agent for Singita – a very high end safari lodge. I paid her a LOT of money, or at least it felt like a lot of money for a little start up like me.
To be fair, she did her job as best she could. But after 18 months of paying her basically all the money I was making and crossing fingers each month that this would be “THE month,” I had to give up on my hope.
In letting her go, I learned a very powerful lesson. I was looking for a silver bullet and hoped she was it. I was trying to hit a homerun with my marketing. I put all my eggs in one basket and did nothing else.
This is a big mistake I see a LOT of people make – and not just in the travel business. They see marketing as a necessary nuisance OR have a very narrow view of what marketing will work for THEM (a very common one here is website traffic). In either case, they think that if they just pay someone enough money to do it all for them, their client shortage problems will be solved.
Wrong. If you want to save yourself a lot of money, time and frustration, you will listen to this message right here and right now. You can’t pay someone to do your marketing and expect to hit a home run. If you want a homerun, there are 2 critical things you must do:
1) Be actively involved in your marketing
2) Market consistently with more than 1 avenue
Bottom line? You must put marketing on your daily agenda. You must commit to it like you would commit to a healthy living regime, after learning you have heart disease. In both cases, (your business or your health) you can’t pay someone to do it for you. And allow me to pop a bubble for you right here and now: there really are no home runs in marketing.
Choose 2 marketing vehicles and commit to both of them for the next 3 months. It could be Facebook and a weekly electronic newsletter. Or maybe it’s blogging and email. Perhaps you are more of an offline person – so commit to networking and direct mail. No matter what, commit to each of these activities on a regular basis. No shotgun marketing allowed. See what happens!