Small business often has such entrenched systems that methods of doing business, management, sales and marketing become a form of fire-fighting. We advocate “if it ain’t broke, check it out anyway” – a bit like an annual medical exam.
Ask yourself if you are doing the right stuff for the right reasons? It is a good idea to brainstorm the Why, What, Where, Who before the How.
This is the process we adopt when going through a strategic planning process for clients where they require a full blown marketing plan or drill down to one of the specific issues they want to address.
The 7 P’s of Marketing
The “7 P’s” AKA the Marketing Mix should be integrated to deliver a seamless journey as prospects move from awareness, to perception, expectation and through the sales funnel to ultimately become customers and experience or taste your offer.
- Product – accommodation, meal, seat, spa treatment, experience or whatever you are paid to deliver Link to product development
- People – your team who interpret your Vision and Value in the way they deliver
- Price – the rates you charge vs. the value you deliver
- Place – the channels you pay commissions or fees to that so they make your product available far and wide to supplement the business you get booked direct
- Processes – the methodologies, procedures, automated systems terms and conditions that ‘run’ your business
- Promotion – tools used to put your product in front of the customer and encourage him to buy
- Physical Evidence – the things that reassure your customer and reinforce their perception
If any of these P’s are deficient, the value chain and customer experience will collapse. Resulting in complaints and these days, online trashing.
Ideally one should establish the market and all the other essential criteria that is analysed in a feasibility study before investing in the hospitality industry. However, our experience has shown that “Product’ often comes first.
We deal with this challenge by analysing the competition before determining where the business fits in and how it can be occupy a unique place in the mind of its customers.
Are you delivery what you want or what they customers need? Do you know what current market trends are?
You need a unique selling point the helps you stand out.
Considerations include the competition, your location, demand, seasonality and that you are looking to sell as many rooms as possible at the highest rate possible.
At the early stages of brand awareness and in the absence of other benchmarks, your rates define your business of service. If you reduce these rates, you could be having the same effect on perception of your product. And it has been proven during recessionary times that reducing rates does not increase demand plus it is very difficult to convince customers to pay more when business improves.
“He, who reduces his rate, is the only one who knows what his product is really worth” www.hotelmarketingcoach.com.
There is no doubt that travellers search for best value and not the cheapest rates. Creative packaging with local services and attractions are a sure fire way of offering value and improving your reputation in your marketplace.
Rate Parity is unwritten law i.e. same rates to all markets at the same time. We can help you with a strategy to maintain rate parity this across channels, during low and high occupancy.
Fine tune your pricing strategy before the next rate season starts.
If you don’t know exactly who your target audience including new and repeat clients, guests and members, then you are not going to be authentic and trust worthy in your communication, the products and services you offer and worst of all you will waste effort, time and money.
Spend time defining your target markets AKA Your Ideal Customer Persona.
Sales Promotions are tactical moves that are intended to persuade people to do something they normally wouldn’t. For example Like your Facebook page, low season bookings, buying volumes or a lead in to encourage spend on high profit items as in ‘two stay for the price of one” but there are now two eating, drinking and enjoying the spa at extra cost!
Promotions may include events, packages, competitions, barter deals with print media, trade shows and workshops, site visits by influences.
Advertising is a well know form of self-promotion. However print advertising is expensive and hard to pin down as far as return on investment is concerned. Careful consideration is required to evaluate the abundance of print advertising options one is presented with. Always be sure of your goals and how you will measure if you achieved them.
Online advertising is cost effective and much easier to target audience. Analytics and reports make it easy to teak and adjust before over spending. Social media advertising is becoming essential if you want to generate leads from this so-called “free resource”.
Use our expert advice for your print, electronic and online advertising.
Reputation Enhancement strategy
Reputation management is probably one of your most scary functions as a small business owner; especially with social media spreading bad news like wild fire!
Listening, responding and following a step-by-step procedure will help you use good AND bad reviews to your benefits.
With increased competition for your customer, guest or members’ leisure spend, niche marketing and a more focused approach to smaller defined segments can get you much better return on investment than the ‘Spray and Pray’ promotional practices of days gone by.
Booking engines, GDS, OTA’s, Tour Operators, Destination Management Companies, Travel Agents and Event Organisers all claim their share of your pie when sending you business. It is up to you to determine how big their piece of pie should be!
Every business needs to balance their dependence on the various booking channels used. This will help you to remain in control of your destiny provided you know who books what and what the cost of doing business with each channel is.
Do you know which your most profitable channels are?
It is also not just a matter of commission but promotion costs associated with booking through those channels. Also, consider the relationship with your customer … does the channel or third party supplier control this or do you?
Instead of fire-fighting, anticipate market forces that will impact on your business and plan your marketing in advance. Either start with baby steps and focus on one key function at a time or get a comprehensive marketing plan.
Any positive Action is Progress!