A few weeks back I wrote a short piece about why the changes to Google’s semantic search means that digital tourism marketing is now enjoyable even if you don’t like marketing. In it I mentioned the prevalence of the view in the tourism industry that somehow marketing is not our ‘real work’. Marketing is seen as a chore and as somehow less important than the business of delivering the experience.
After reflecting on this, I thought it might be important to outline why I believe that view is simply wrong – but also share some tips and ideas on how to manage marketing and even make it enjoyable.
If you are an employee and your job is not to bring people to a destination, experience or property then you can stop reading now. Marketing is only your job in as far as you need to deliver an experience that is consistent with what the marketing people are putting out – and ideally one that is even better!
But for everyone else, please stay with me. If your job includes anything to do with revenue responsibility or if you own your business then marketing is part of what you signed up for!
You Signed Up As Chief Marketing Officer When You Started Your Business
I think the problem is that most people come into tourism because they love delivering the experience and they confuse that passion with being a job description. It is certainly a critical part of the description, but if it’s the only bit you are prepared to do you need to join the people I mention above – change roles or work for someone else.
Unfortunately business is a pretty unforgiving discipline. We don’t get to just cherry pick the bits of our role we like and ignore the bits we don’t like. As we are constantly being told by the business gurus, if you run a small business you need to spend most of your time ‘on the business’ not ‘in the business’. I understand the problem…. For me, I love working both in the business and on the business in marketing, content development, strategy and branding. That’s where I get to apply my best skills to both my clients and my own business. For me, the bit I hate is all the paperwork, record keeping and finances. So honestly I have walked the talk on recognizing my real job does include doing those bits. And just as we’ll quickly go out of business if I don’t get the invoices out and pay the bills, you’ll go out of business pretty quickly if you don’t concentrate on making sure people know about your offer and are keen to try it.
I see three broad tools for making this easier – and a bit more pleasurable.
• Changing the context
Process/Routine is probably the easiest of these to discuss. If you really can’t motivate yourself to do marketing then process is your friend. It’s a bit like taking exercise. We all know we should do it, but we can all find 20 reasons not to. Michelle Bridges the trainer on The Biggest Loser says she is fed up being asked for the secret to ‘motivation’ to exercise. As she says, at 5am on a rainy winter day she doesn’t want to go for a run either! So she suggests creating routines – so that exercise becomes so automatic you don’t have to think about it, you just do it.
You can do exactly the same with your marketing efforts. Set yourself up regular planning meetings (once every 6 or 12 months), map out a schedule and a list of tasks and diarise the time to do it. That way it will become automatic. That’s exactly what I do with the financial stuff. Every Wednesday at 9.30 I have a diary appointment with an agenda around sorting out receipts, doing invoices and chasing payments AND I DO IT THEN EVERY WEEK. Do I sometimes have to change it? Of course I do. But my rule is that I must reschedule the appointment within 48 hours and deliver. At that point, doing the painful part is a bit like cleaning your teeth – boring but automatic. Over time, as you see it build your business or get into it you might even find it becomes enjoyable.
Recently in LinkedIn’s Australian Tourism Digital Distribution Community – Deep End Fishing Charters in Port Macquarie noted how addictive they found digital marketing becoming – and if you look at their Google listing it shows!
Part of your process should also build in rewards, making sure that the bits of the job you do enjoy are built in as well. At MyTravelResearch.com, Bronwyn and I both ensure that we do get an adequate share of the time is on the bits of the job we find most motivating – both in terms of how the work is divided up between us and a percentage of time we devote to the tasks we love. We have a minimum % of our time that is devoted to our favourite bits. Because we have the less exciting bits built in to the process as well, we know we have something to look forward to and can enjoy our favourite bits without feeling guilty.
Finally, the most successful strategy over time is to change the context of marketing as part of your role (or any other bits of the role you don’t like) and see it in a different light. One of the most fascinating things we have learnt from the science of behavioural economics is the importance of context. Literally the feelings we have and the decisions we make on the same issues are different depending on the context of that decision. An example of this is why you always buy less healthy food if you go shopping when you’re hungry rather than when you aren’t. It’s the same task but in a different context, so you make different choices. So if you can change the context of marketing, you can make it easier or even enjoyable.
Here are some tips and tricks that might help:
Change your attitude when you are undertaking the task. As Carly and Tresne from MyKitchenRules say ‘whether you think you succeed or whether you don’t, you’ll be right’. It sounds a bit naff, but going into the task thinking of it as a positive thing WILL make it easier (although it may take a you a bit of time to get over the naffness). For example, one of the ways I try to think of doing the financials is as building my skills as a business leader and an advisor to my clients – so it delivers to my passion points. And I have been proved right as I am using that experience in this article!
Focus on the outcomes of the task. The guy who does our IT support has a similar view to many in the tourism business around the role of marketing and business development. But when I chat to him as he sorts out my computer, it turns out that most Mondays (and some weeks most days) when he gets out of bed he has no idea how much work will come in. When you have two kids and a Sydney mortgage that’s a scary idea. So I’ve persuaded him to think of marketing as being about ‘peace of mind’. The time he sets to marketing might not be enjoyable but it does remove that feeling in the pit of his stomach on a Monday about how he is going to pay his bills.
‘Reframe’ the task. Framing is the way human beings (all of us) describe what we are doing. If you are a tour company and love delivering great experiences to clients, but hate marketing reframe doing marketing as part of creating the experience. In the age of content marketing, that is EXACTLY what you are doing. Think of marketing as creating ‘pre-memories’, building excitement about just how great the physical experience will be. If you look at the content of companies that do this well you can see that it really does that – you actually start feeling your excitement rise when you read their content.
Two great examples of this are “Life’s An Adventure’ and ‘Tri State Safaris’ in NSW (Australia). Both are multi-award winners at regional, state and national level – indeed Tri State is now in the hall of fame it has won so often. If you go into their website or read their material, their tone of voice gives you an amazing sense of what they are offering. Just reading it makes you want to book right there and then. And both are businesses that have grown and flourished, whilst still enabling their owners to continue doing the front line parts they love.
I am sure that many of you reading this (assuming the Pollyanna-ish tone hasn’t put you off) are sceptical that such systems might work. So if you feel that marketing isn’t your real job take the MyTravelResearch.com I Love Marketing Challenge. Try my approach for a period of 6 or 12 months, ground it in process, give yourselves rewards and reframe the task. See if it doesn’t deliver better results financially and emotionally. If it doesn’t let us know, if it does let everyone else know!
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