People Like and buy from People - there has never been a better time to showcase your USP
The one differentiator that any small business has over it's bigger rivals is ‘personality' and people buy from people, so let that personality shine through.
But how do you market in a world where no one is buying? Some travel agents have simply decided to ‘hunker down', not bother talking to their subscribers ( worse….never even email their subscribers) and instead simply post on Facebook the odd special offer when an operator sends one through ( note to yourself: 90% of posts you make on Facebook don't get seen by your followers unless you decide to spend money and ‘Boost them', and that in itself does little apart from make you feel you've got your post in front of more people)
Building an engaged audience is so much more than just posting numerous special offers on Facebook – it's about showcasing your personality.
This week I've experienced two very contrasting approaches. Early this week a client asked us to put a holding page on their website with their logo on it and no access to the rest of the website. They thought they were not going to take any bookings until April and it would be best to cut all costs before they went off on their holiday. Their reasoning? No one wants to hear from them / plan a holiday or engage until next April at the earliest, despite the fact they had open rates of 35% + on all Armchair Travels we sent out on their behalf over lockdown. Ah well, that just created a whole heap of opportunity for other agents in their town!
Contrast that with Clare Dudley's approach below, she's invented the Clare & Millie Show, a lovely double act of warmth, professionalism, honesty and expert knowledge. Clare faces the same issues as everyone right now, not selling enough holidays to make any money. But she's worked out how to survive, knows she has a great business and is using this time to engage with her subscribers so when the time is right, they'll come back to her first. If you don't know Clare, watch the two videos and then ask yourself ‘Would I book with Ponders?'
The world has changed and everyone is online now and will be forever. Learning how to project yourself well online is something that is well worth mastering while bookings are quiet…. and will create demand for when we are through this period.
Our Agent masterclass example - Clare Dudley, Ponders Travel
The Clare & Millie Show
Clare started creating weekly videos with her staff member Millie, simply talking to subscribers and Facebook followers about how she was navigating the current Covid chaos and how people could contact them for help and advice.
I'd like to showcase two of these videos here as examples. The first one was introducing the ‘Holidays to Help Out Scheme'. The TTGMedia initiative was created to help agents ( and operators) sell some holidays. Some businesses went full out with the ‘Holidays to Help Out' promo with, it could be said, too much focus on the ‘Help us, we've had no money for months'. Indeed the National Press has been full of how travel agents have not earned any money this year so you could forgive a customer being cynical about the reason for the campaign ( after all, it was named with a Nod to ‘Eat out to Help Out' which was about saving hospitality.)
Clare made it all about the customer
What Clare did was:
- make it all about the customer
- make it personal
- Kept it light hearted and enjoyable to watch
- Gave examples of offers to give watchers a flavour of what they could buy
- Added their own ‘extra gift' for booking
It's all about the Customer - Again
In Clare's latest Video ( and email) she touches on the subject of this most recent lockdown – and of course the fact that they are going to be closed ( as a shop) for the month.
What Clare and Millie get absolutely right again is demonstrating how they are looking after their customers and any future customers by:
- Introducing a Free Travel Clinic for anyone worried about travelling / having booked a holiday / not booked / with Ponders / with anyone else. Basically saying – we are the experts at this, we are friendly and approachable and it won't cost you a penny to talk to us
- Teamed up with a Covid testing partner
- Demonstrating ( without a hard sell) that people are still booking holidays ( really useful for other people to know as it makes watchers think ” well, maybe we could book as well”
Email is the most effective channel for marketing
Better user engagement when it's personal
The one thing Clare has learned along the way is that making communication personal increases the engagement of her subscribers / followers.
"When I send a normal Ponders newsletter about nowhere near as many open this as when I put it’s a note from Clare
And with these Clare emails – I get so much personal response. Clients say thank you for the honesty etc. and from this one I sent last night I had two separate enquiries too"
What You can Learn from Clare
- Make your marketing personal – it will resonate better than trying to be corporate
- Use Video – it's a great way of getting you message across and being able to showcase your personality and expertise
- Find a sidekick (if you can)…. It's engaging in these kinds of update videos to see two people talking.
- Use email – you get better open rates, better engagement with subscribers than any other type of marketing
- Be upbeat – no matter what you are going through, sound positive, customers want reassurance
- Give people a reason to book with you – Clare bullet pointed 6 reasons to book with Ponders ( see below)
- Think of additional ways you can help customers other than just selling a holiday ( Clare chose Covid Testing and a Travel Clinic to give people a reason to reach out)