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Beware: The Internet is not the Only Thing
November 17, 2010 - Ernest Hohmeyer
We all hear no matter whom we listen to today that the internet is the thing when it comes to marketing. The message is so prevalent it is becoming confused as the only thing. As a small business when you are forced to wear many hats to run your business you have to divide your time among many priorities and marketing is only one of them. As we are told that the internet is the place to focus, we are tending to spend more time there between web sites, social media, links, on-line ordering, pay per clicks, on-line advertising options and search engine optimization to name a few.
New on-line choices seem to appear every day for example this week’s announcement by Facebook to let users send e-mail to people outside of its network. When your business revolves around more than the drop-in customer these steps are often repeated for local, regional and visitor markets. What was once done quickly and simply is now becoming a complicated topic with a proliferation of options and unfortunately additional costs. The greater pitfall is that the internet maze may come at a cost of ignoring other potential viable marketing avenues.
Word is now coming out that your customer is also becoming frustrated. As visitors are seeking increasingly diverse experiences, they are becoming lost in the amount of options available to them. A family of four for example may be looking to ski together but then they want to be sure there are individual experiences they can also enjoy on their own and they are getting tired of an “increasingly complicated travel process”. Not all traditional marketing avenues should be overlooked. For example, remember when you may have thought the days of the travel agent were dead? Well, they may be coming back to life.
Two studies by Forrester Research as reported in USA Today details how there is a growing number of leisure travelers who previously had booked on-line and now would be interested in going to a “good traditional travel agent”. Further, how the “number of leisure travelers who enjoyed using the web to plan and book their vacation” dropped to under 50%. Forrester Research notes that “Planning and booking a vacation should be fun. Instead, most travel websites deliver a very clinical experience and a very intimidating experience”. The article is quick to point out that on-line booking of leisure travel is projected to grow from “$80 billion this year to $110.7 billion by 2014. What is perhaps more important for all of us here in the Adirondacks is the new trend seems to be the “convergence between on-line and off-line worlds. In other words, do not put so much emphasis on on-line marketing mechanisms that you completely ignore traditional marketing venues such as direct interaction. One of our strengths of our small businesses is that while we may not have the marketing muscle of large corporations, we can take advantage of this new trend by offering a seamless on-line and off-line approach. We may be in a good position to offer “more personalized options and suggestions tailored to a consumer” that the article states is a trend of the future. We can blend a good web site with personal interaction. You may wish to make it clear in key pages of your web site that they can communicate with your business directly anytime in the process with appropriate and repeated headings related to contact information. It will be important to also have a good working knowledge of the diverse experiences we have to offer with appropriate links. Keep in mind that your marketing is only as good as your employees can communicate your experience and what we have to offer. It might be an idea for the region to host a familiarization tour once a year, say in the spring before the summer season begins so that we all are aware of what we have to offer. In the meantime the principles of the marketing book Guerilla Marketing is still valid and we cannot forget basic marketing principles like personal contact, fliers, packages and networking with each other.
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