Crossmedia451 does work in the hospitality industry and we get asked about ways to successfully expand the sales for these businesses. It is very typical for businesses to want to explore tactics that are done in isolation and not part of a broader plan or strategy. Emails, direct mail and other advertising are tactics used specifically to reach individuals. I usually steer people to develop a strategy or outline the desired end result before jumping into tactics willy nilly. For instance, do you want sales that are built to last, or do you need a quick hit?
One tool to remember is that people still like to get together…..in person. When you think about how to drive more traffic and business to a restaurant, for example, you will want to explore more avenues than discounting and email promos. I have talked to and worked with restaurants that use discounters such as Groupon or Living Social. While there is nothing wrong with those services, you really have to think about what is right for you and your business. Visits from people who are only there to take advantage of a one-time discount may be good, but is that what you really want?
I am an advocate of getting people to love your business and its brand, and drive emotional engagement and connectivity. That takes actual contact with people, usually. One service business in a large city wanted to reach out to people who worked in nearby high-rises. I counseled them to build both a virtual and a real community with the people in those buildings. We determined that there was a way to leverage the web site of the building owners to make it easy for tenant customers to order what services they needed through a “punch out” from a landing page on that web site. That began to create a virtual community for that building, and brought in other local businesses, too.
Next we wanted a way for people to come together to meet. Since that business did not have a retail space, I recommended that they stage an event at a local restaurant and invite the people who were part of the virtual community. The invitations were sent both via email and dropped off at the various offices. And, guess what, people showed up! They thought it was somewhat of a novelty, and there are few people who will turn down free food and drink after work. We made it simple for them to stop by, we promoted the brand, and we encouraged people to talk to each other. Now, when they see one another in the building lobby, they have a common conversation starter, and they remember who brought them together. For an event like that, other local businesses can chip in, you can add a non-profit cause into the mix to benefit from it, and it is good for the restaurant, too. It’s a type of cross-marketing, which I have written about here before and that I feel strongly about.
Real life. It still has a lot of value. Be sure to include it in your marketing strategies.