“We are very good at dragging people in their hundreds and thousands in to our collective websites and then not converting them in to sales.” John Straw, Chairman of Digital Advisory Board Thomas Cook Group.
I simply love this little quote about how travel companies pour their hearts, souls and a whole bunch of moolah into building a fantastic travel website and then simply forget to feed the beast that they’ve created. Enter the world of content marketing…
Marketing Strategist Michael Brenner believes marketing can no longer continue to be about ads. “Ads we tune out. Ads we hate,” says Brenner, who, like me, is a big fan of ‘content marketing’.
Smart companies know that to improve brand engagement and clinch those sales they have to deliver valuable and inspiring content about what they do continuously through that website and other platforms where their target customers engage. They have to trust you know what you’re talking about… that you’re the expert.
And that means not just creating content about your lodge, your hotel, the unique service you provide. It means creating content about the things around you… what to do, where to eat, top travel tips, etc. Content that genuinely helps your client. Content that positions you as the expert in what they want and need.
Brenner says if you look inside your business, you will no doubt find a lot of content. Unfortunately “as much as 70% of it goes completely unused. And the stuff that is used gets ignored because in today’s hyper-connected, digital world, no one is interested in hearing” a sales pitch.
Content is the single-most powerful and versatile tool in your bag of marketing tricks. Google loves and rewards high-quality content, and so do your customers.
It is the hub in your wheel without which your social media, PR, website and all marketing channels will not work. It is the foundation you need before hopping on the Social Media, Web or PR bandwagon.
If you don’t have excellent content, you will never rank high on the search terms your prospects use to find you on search engines. You’ll have nothing to bring to the social media table. You’ll have fewer ‘excuses’ to connect with your prospects online. You’ll struggle to build a profound relationship between your customers and your brand and foster their trust and loyalty.
And that’s why we advocate the use of personal content, and that means information that is customer-driven, continuous and focuses on reaching the right person, at the right time, with the right message.
South African Tourism is one of few Destination Marketing Organisations that have acknowledged the importance of content in their marketing strategy, showcasing South Africa through the eyes of its people and fans who upload content across social media platforms using the hashtag #MeetSouthAfrica.
The campaign cleverly draws on the influence and content of trusted and established travel bloggers, both local and international, to share their story about destination South Africa with their hundreds of thousands of followers, giving the destination authenticity and leveraging the power of organic word of mouth. That’s right, the traveller doesn’t care about what the DMO has to say. They care about what their peers or heroes are saying.
And that doesn’t mean you have to hire a roomful of content writers to churn out blogposts. In SA Tourism’s case, the #MeetSouthAfrica YouTube video, one of the components of the content strategy, has been viewed a whopping two million times since it was published in May 2014.
Indeed visual content is where the future of content lies, certainly in an industry like travel where images sell a destination. As this Forbes article on the top content marketing trends of 2015 suggests, Internet users flock towards images, videos and graphics as visual content does a much better job at telling brand stories than text.
Visuals give prospective travellers a “sense of place”, adds Troy Thompson of Travel 2.0. People plan their trips based on what looks interesting or exciting.
But even if you’re not a natural-born content writer or photographer, or don’t have the budget to employ one, there are things you can do to generate and distribute content to position yourself as the expert in your game.
Forms of content marketing
- A well-written and regularly updated blog
- A customer newsletter that educates – not just sells
- Free workshops
- A printed trend guide for your industry
- Educational articles you write for your local paper or trade magazine
- A ‘How To’ article that you distribute online
- A customer magazine
- Online tools that your customers can use (e.g. destination guide)
- Customer case studies
- A detailed website with a good FAQ section
The key is not to tell a customer what you have.
I own a lodge …it offers a fantastic Big 5 experience …come stay with me!
Rather, in the world of content marketing you tell the customer why they should choose you.
Here’s some interesting and informative information about our lodge…We know a lot about offering an incredible safari experience… We understand why you want to experience a safari… We sell incredible safari experiences that fit your greatest needs and desires… So spend your time with us!
Content marketing means you not only create content about your lodge, your hotel, the unique service you provide. You create content about the things around you… what to do, where to eat, top travel tips, etc. Content that genuinely helps your traveller. Content that lets them understand you’re the expert for what they want and need, and they can entrust their travel experience with you.
And always remember…
“Good content is not storytelling. It's telling your story well.” Anne Handley, MarketingProfs