I remember when I first started my travel business feeling so overwhelmed and confused by how to market. My specialty was Africa and attracting my ideal clients felt like finding a needle in a haystack. I desperately wanted clients but I had no idea how to find them. I soooooo wished I could have hired someone to do my marketing for me. But I finally realized that would never work. Instead, after several years of immersing myself in “client attraction” education, I finally figured it out.
The first thing I can tell you is that the “cookie cutter” marketing activities offered by 3rd parties are not enough. In fact, it drives me crazy when travel professionals tell me they don’t have to market because their host agency or their consortia “takes care of it.” Here’s why you must move beyond the cookie cutter marketing strategy:
When you rely on 3rd parties to create and implement “cookie cutter” marketing activities, you only fulfill a small fraction of what you should be doing in your marketing as an entrepreneur selling travel. Your marketing must accomplish two objectives: 1) List-building and 2) Relationship building.
List building is the activity of adding new contacts to your “list.” Without this objective, you would never grow your client base (except through referrals – and relying on referrals to grow your customer base is very limiting.) Your list includes your email list, a physical mailing address list, Facebook Fans, Twitter Followers, etc.
Relationship building is the art of staying connected with those that are already on one of these lists. When you rely on 3rd parties only to create and implement your marketing, you completely skip your first objective of list building and really only accomplish some relationship building. And even on the relationship building objective, the question arises, how much can you really connect with your “people” when someone else is creating your marketing?
When you speak to everyone, you speak to no one! The 3rd party creating the marketing materials MUST create something broad that everyone can use, but this leaves you marketing with no message. Your message is how you build a connection with your prospects. Your message is how you get your prospect’s attention. Broad messages that appeal to the masses won’t appeal to your ideal prospect.
Product based marketing leads you down the path of marketing like a travel agent, but the role of the travel professional has changed dramatically from 20 years ago. The harsh reality is that travel agents don’t exist, but travel experts do. The secret to client attraction success as a travel professional is your ability to establish yourself as a travel expert. However, the “cookie cutter” marketing created by 3rd parties tend to be product based and reinforces your old role, not the newly emerged role. Cookie cutter marketing takes you in the opposite direction.
It’s really quite simple… if you are relying only on cookie cutter marketing provided by a 3rd party, it’s time to upgrade your marketing plan and add in your own marketing activities that establish you as an expert with a compelling message.