Handy guide for tourism and leisure businesses in Cotswolds and across the Three Counties
How do you improve your digital presence when there is so much competition for people’s attention?
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Linkedin? Many businesses have embraced one or indeed all of these platforms but are they really a great use of your time, energy and indeed money?
Every organisation now has a website but are you truly making the most of its potential to be the shop window for your business?
I was asked to speak at the Three Counties and Cotswolds Tourism Forum 2020 to give an insight to businesses large and small into how you can improve your digital PR and marketing.
It struck me that while my presentation was focussed on the tourism and leisure industry, the same basic rules applies to anyone wishing to create better reach and engagement.
So, I’ve adapted my presentation into a guide which I hope you will find useful.
So, number one on my list –
1: It is all about the PLAN….
We all know what proper preparation prevents….. So before you take any action…..take some time to think about what you want your digital marketing to achieve and how it fits with your commercial objectives.
- Create a short list of key marketing priorities to be added into a calendar. My advice is have a yearly plan that is reviewed regularly.
- Work out who in your team is going to be responsible for executing the plan and allocate your digital marketing budget.
2: My next tip is Remember the Ws you learn at school. Firstly, look at:
WHO do you want to reach and who is your target market in terms of demographics, interests and drive-time?
WHAT is the message you want to convey to them? The more simple and clear the message, the better.
WHERE are you going to reach your target market? Find out the demographics of the social media platforms and websites and if they align with your target market so you can best judge what might work for you.
WHEN: Timing is everything. To maximise your success, you need to look at when is the best time for your activity.
A good rule of thumb to start off with is think about your own life. What time of day do you:
- Use your mobile the most?
- Online shop
- Go on social media
These are a good way to begin timing your content to hit peak audience times.
Develop your WHY factor – What is it that makes your bar, hotel, attraction different? What is your USP and why should someone visit you or buy from you? This why factor may not be a one thing, it could be a series of key selling points you want to highlight.
3. BE SEEN and another W, your website
First and foremost, ensure your house is in order and by that, I mean your website – your shop window.
How easy is your site to find? As an example, where does your website rank on Google when it comes to hotels in the Cotswolds or South West visitor attractions?
If you don’t already, you may want to consider getting outside advice on how to improve your Google ranking and there are some brilliant digital agencies who can help your SEO.
Make sure you are also on every relevant listing site for your industry using paid-for and free listings. These links from quality sources will make a difference.
How easy is it use? If you want people to buy tickets, book hotel rooms, reserve a table, how many clicks does it take to do it?
You have a matter of seconds max to keep someone on your website before they are bouncing off elsewhere, so it needs to be easy to navigate.
Take a forensic look at your site and most importantly how it looks on a mobile phone. Almost 80% of UK adults have smartphones and they are rarely out of our hands.
4: BE CHOOSY: It is very easy to be a busy fool if you don’t ensure you are targeting the right media. It goes back to who do you want to reach?
It is the same for the media you may get approached to advertise with. They will have a media pack with key demographic info on it, so ask for it to see if it matches your target market.
Also think about collaborating with other brands who have your target market sewn up on social media.
EG: If you are a dog-friendly hotel, could a luxury dog food brand work with you to create pet welcome packs for your pooch? Or why not pick one luxury spirit brand to partner with on your gin-themed afternoon tea?
5: BE VISUAL: We eat with our eyes….So, what you post on all social media platforms needs to catch the eye and fast.
Invest in good imagery of your business, your food, your drinks, your location – it pays off.
Delegate on the go social media imagery to people with an eye…Your team is probably full of people who are mini-experts on their own social media as to how to get the best picture/video for a post/story – let them help.
With mobile consumption of video is rising 100% every year and almost 80% of video plays on mobile phones, telling your story via video has to be a vital part of your marketing strategy if you are not doing it already.
6: BE ALERT to what opportunities you can capitalise on. This could be everything from a major local event to news jacking a national/trending news story which you could get some mileage from:
You may have seen the adverts in the nationals recently for Expedia and others advertising Canada flights to escape the family on the back of Meghan and Harry. This gained widespread media and social media exposure – a double win for the price of the ads.
Take Gloucestershire for instance. On your doorstep you have Cheltenham Races, Cheese Rolling, Gloucester Rugby, Cheltenham Literature Festival to name but a few major events and venues ripe for piggy-backing on.
How can your business capitalise on these with quirky story ideas and interesting offers?
Awareness days and weeks are all good to keep an eye out on. Don’t overdo them but it is a great to pick a couple which really resonate and work on content/promotions for them. A great Gloucestershire agency 10 Yetis has produced this free handy guide you can download.
7: BE RELEVANT: Get to know the media you want to use. Look at the stories they are carrying and what they are posting on social media and try to think how your business can grab the headlines. Do they love giveaways, listicles, first-look inside, giant food challenges?
Secondly, get to know the people producing the stories, follow their editors and what’s on writers on social media and interact with their content and take an interest – it isn’t a one-way street.
8: BE SOCIAL….
It is called social media for a reason and these platforms are about sharing and engaging with other people. Your posts need reflect this.
Don’t make every post on Facebook a link post to your website – after all, in your own time you don’t upload the pictures of your holiday with a link to booking.com
Plus, don’t make it all about you either, try to ask questions of your followers/ask for feedback/pictures of them enjoying your venue. Start and get involved in the conversation.
9: BE FORENSIC: Data is your friend…Keep reviewing what is working/what’s not. Facebook and Instagram have easy to use insights pages to monitor your reach and your engagement and, of course, Google analytics will help you to see how this is driving traffic to your site.
Your newsletter sign-up, open and click through rates are also so important to ensure you are speaking to your prime, loyal customers – they are so vital.
What I would say is some things may take longer to stick and grow…don’t lose heart if one post idea isn’t an immediate win as often things can take a while to gain traction.
10: BE HONEST – this isn’t a plug but if you have realised your team doesn’t have the capability or expertise to deliver this, then get help in. There are media experts large and small, agency and freelance, out there with a whole range of specialist skills from social media, website SEO and advertising, to PR and media campaigns. It is about finding the right fit for your business.