By Sam Hill
Anyone working in marketing/adverting for hospitality oriented businesses in a seasonal market needs to capture the attention of the tourists. Being that I am based out of Scottsdale this article is going to be formed around snowbirds, and warm weather tourism.
In Scottsdale, and many warm weather places, we get snowbirds. People who visit annually, and in many cases, have second homes here. Many tourists in Scottsdale fall under the snowbird category. Snowbirds act similarly to locals. They have the shops they like, the restaurants they frequent, and the activities they gravitate towards. Tourists wouldn’t keep coming back if these things weren’t around. However, they are still on vacation and are prone to indulgence as much as the casual tourist.
Snowbirds are also almost exclusively wealthy and retired. Most people cannot afford and/or get time off work required for long term annual vacations. This creates an interesting demographic, and area for creative marketing.
Veteran snowbirds are familiar enough with the area that they generally avoid the tourist traps, like those overly gaudy restaurants with overpriced reheated Sysco food that have premium real estate. Because of the generally older demographic we also see a slightly lower internet engagement with this group. We are left with the question, “where are they finding new places?” “how do we get their business?” For business with locations off the main drag, this is tricky. There are some obvious answers, like building a good reputation among the locals. This takes time, visibility, and a bit of luck. For a new restaurant this is a challenge.
The agency I work for was lucky to have the experience of taking on the marketing for a brand-new pizza place in town. The restaurant opened its doors right at the start of the tourist season in October of last year. This restaurant was somewhat off the beaten path for tourists. However, we found that traditional physical fliers really worked in for this business. We printed 2000 fliers, and hired a team of day laborers to distribute them during a San Francisco Giants training game. The response was tremendous. Obviously, this is not digital marketing, but we were able to do this rather inexpensively, and the engagement was there. Sometimes traditional methods are effective, and preferential to digital marketing. It might be worth a shot if you can distribute in areas with heavy foot traffic.
What I have found through digital marketing is that businesses with clearly defined categories tend to have an easier time reaching the tourism crowd.
For example, this case study of one of our restaurant clients illustrates this point all too well. Unfortunately, this restaurant had to permanently close. This restaurant had wonderful reviews, and lucrative media exposure from both the local news, and many local food bloggers. There were a few problems with location, and categorization. The restaurant did not adhere to a specific cuisine. It had an eclectic menu that contained elements of different tastes from around the world. It did not fall under traditional restaurant categories. This proves problematic for people looking for new restaurants.
If people are searching for a new place, they generally have an idea of what they want to do. For example, if a tourist is looking for a restaurant they generally have an idea of the type of food they would like. Searches would be things like “Thai food,” or “pizza.”
Having a specific term might narrow the scope of traffic to your webpage, but at the same time it will make you stand out in specific searches which is important for appealing to tourists, especially tourists who are first timers.
This also ties into clientele. The eclectic restaurant previously mentioned was in the club area of town. I am not in the restaurant business, I am in the marketing business so take my diagnosis with a grain of salt, but the other restaurants in that area are all drunk food places. Places that serve $2 street tacos and Pizza windows. A casually upscale restaurant is less likely to pull in the clubbing crowd. This case study can be stretched to stand as a guide to the type of business you are running.
Every vacation I have ever been on has had options for all kinds of tourists. There are family places, exclusive resorts, Michelin restaurants, and greasy spoons. Regardless of if the tourist is a high roller, or a budget conscious person, nobody likes feeling ripped off. I have seen all too many restaurants and shops last less than a year because they think that their location alone will save them. With review platforms becoming more and more invasive, this type of business is getting tougher to pull off. Having a shop that gives fair value is always going to pull in tourists.
Another strategy that is somewhat contentious is Groupon. In my experience Groupon is not a good avenue for repeat customers, and can be demoralizing for staff, especially in the restaurant industry. Groupon tends to attract one-time customers who, meaning this avenue is not preferred for building brand loyalty. This also usually cuts into the server’s tips. However, in instances where you are trying to just get people in, Groupon can help your business to get a piece of the tourist pie. Be cautious of the rates though. Groupon can charge your business up to 50% per coupon, plus you have to offer an attractive discount that really cuts into your margins. If you’re savvy at math, and can still squeeze a profit, this can be a good option.
Scottsdale is an event oriented city. There are countless events all season long where local businesses can further their reach. Many events are foodie oriented, and are always looking for vendor. Restaurants looking to expand their market should always consider these events. In my experiences restaurants also usually get reimbursed at these events anyway, so the cost issue is not there. There is a time dedication.
There is a fine line when marketing to tourists. There needs to be subtlety. Nobody non-ironically likes tourist traps. People also want to experience the local culture, and not get ripped off. If you can accomplish these things, your business will do just fine.
As the buying power of millennials grows, marketers have worked diligently to capture the attention of these consumers. The habits of these buyers differ to the patterns once observed in the generations before them, however, making it vitally important for small businesses to experiment with innovative advertising and marketing techniques. In the United States alone, millennials account for some 76.6 million individuals, making it imperative to focus on courting their pocketbooks.
The Power of Choice
Before the advent of the Internet, buyers were extremely limited in their options. Millennials have grown up surrounded by choices, however, with myriad brands and businesses competing for their attention. In the average millennial buyer, this has created an expectation of multiple price points and variations of the same products or services.
Shifting social pressures and unstable economic environments have further altered the traditional marketing model, as millennials pursue different paths in adulthood. Whereas baby boomers were marrying and having children in their early twenties, many millennials take things more slowly. Some of these buyers still live at home with their parents, while others are singletons pursuing high-level careers without the added responsibilities of domestic life. Catering to the various segments within the millennial population is a challenging equation.
Examining Wants & Desires
Marketers have always worked to address the wants and desires of buyers, often creating a perceived need even when one does not exist. In a report compiled by global insight firm CEB, businesses were found to be more successful with millennials when they embraced three key marketing strategies: understanding the audience’s values, realistically assessing the buyer’s spending power and lifestyle, and “involving” these consumers, as opposed to simply selling a product.
Real-world applications of these strategies are particularly evident in the hospitality industry, with restaurants working to cater to the millennial crowd. Millennials are more apt to spend time eating out with friends, as they’re not limited by spouses and young children. Furthermore, these buyers are on the hunt for a multitude of choices, as evidenced by the popularity of services like Yelp, which highlight a number of businesses operating in any given area. To answer this need, many chefs work on creating new menus at varying price points, which can help keep young buyers engaged with the brand.
Life will be changing rapidly for millennials in the years to come, as many of these young adults begin to settle down and establish families of their own. Marketing trends experts still believe millennials will be driven by a desire for plenty of options, however, and the core values of these buyers will likely remain constant. Because the nature of the millennial marketing game is evolving, it’s important for small businesses to carefully monitor the situation and not feel hesitant about trying various techniques to see what works best.
No matter whether you’re an established brand or a budding startup, using a blog to grow your business could lead to dramatic growth for your company. Consider this simple fact: brands that create 15 blog posts a month average a whopping 1,200 new leads in that period. (source) With statistics like those, it’s hard to overlook the hidden potential business blogging offers. Looking for even more benefits? Consider the following six reasons business blogging simply makes sense.
1. Blogging Leads to More Followers
According to Twitter, interesting content is one of the top reasons users follow brands on social media. As a social media marketer, you’re competing with billion-dollar companies, entertainment conglomerates, and every other business tweeting around the clock. Without content that resonates, you’ll struggle to gain any traction. Start blogging and watch the visitors come knocking on your door.
2. Companies with Blogs Receive 97% More Links
Getting others to share the word about your business is an important goal, and few techniques are as effective as creating a blog. In fact, research suggests that companies with blogs receive 97% more links than sites with static content—that’s nearly twice as many inbound links.
3. Blogging Makes a Long-term Impact
When it comes to spending your marketing dollars, it’s important to consider the overall return on your investment. Whereas PPC campaigns and other advertising initiatives only influence immediate traffic, blogs can pull in new visitors for years to come. Focus on creating “evergreen content”—content that is not time-sensitive—to maximize your blog’s potential.
4. Frequent Posts Impact Your Search Ranking
Appearing higher in the results on a popular search engine is about much more than vanity. The higher your site ranks for a particular keyword, the more likely a web user will click your link. Frequently posting encourages search bots to index your site, while the ranking algorithms use factors like the number of active posts to determine site authority.
5. Small Businesses with Blogs Generate More Leads
Thinking blogging only makes sense for big brands with thousands of active followers? Think again. Research shows that small businesses with blogs generate up to 126% more leads, as opposed to businesses that neglect online marketing altogether. Can you think of a single reason not to double your leads with a blog?
6. New Content Keeps Users Engaged
Attracting an audience online is a tricky equation that requires plenty of hard work. Pulling new visitors to your site is only half the equation; you also must work on keeping their attention. Routinely publishing new content helps keep your followers interested in what you have to say, which in turn affects the overall health of your business.
Not specifically for SEO, but having a general grasp on economic trends is incredibly useful for thinking about abstract SEO concepts. Because of the rapid nature of technology, it is useful to pay attention to general business trends. With new developing technologies like blockchain, augmented and virtual reality, and autonomous machines it is good to be on the forefront, and in the know. SEO is all about having that preemptive edge.
My only gripe is that you have to be particularly engaged to get the most out of this podcast. The Economist is a rather stuffy.
This podcast can be accessed without an economist magazine subscription via Spotify and Apple Music.
Secret Sauce is a podcast tailored to those doing SEO for the restaurant and hospitality industry. The podcast is produced and narrated by James Eling veteran restaurant SEO for the website: www.marketingforrestaurants.com. Since West 54 Media has many clients in this sector, Secret Sauce is invaluable. If you are in the restaurant and hospitality market, this is the podcast for you. Eling said, “only people with problems use Google.” Blew my mind with truth.
The Digital Marketing Podcast.
With a name like that, how could you ignore this one? This podcast is put on by www.targeinternet.com, a website that gives online SEO classes. These episodes go into detail of common SEO woes and questions. Each episode is premised around a single topic, so if you really want to get into depth, this a great podcast, also it is not as boring as you might think. It is narrated well by award winging Daniel Rowles, and Ecommerce expert, Ciaran Rogers.
Planet Money – NPR
In the same vein as the Economist Radio, this podcast is not specifically an SEO podcast, it is a general economics podcast. However, I have gotten so many fresh ideas from these guys. Wildly entertaining, strangely funny, and surprisingly profound at times, this is one of my favorite podcasts in general. It is a nationally syndicated radio show, so the content is timely and produced well. Since NPR is partially government subsidized you are in a way already paying for it, so why not listen?
Freakanomics Radio – NPR
See Planet Money. Freakanomics radio is similar but often takes a much more micro approach to economics. Also, there is a bit more social and political examination. Not recommended if you have staunch beliefs.
TED radio hour – NPR
If you couldn’t tell, I am an NPR junkie. If you are not aware of TED talks, which would surprise me if you weren’t. TED Talks cover the latest in business, tech, science, and social sciences. I have said it already and I hold firm, you can get SEO tips about direct questions, but thinking about SEO in the abstract is going to be better in the long term.
Wondering about how to maintain your brand identity in this brave new world? See this article by West 54 Media.
When it comes to building a dedicated following on social media platforms, most people fall into one of two camps: you either can’t get enough, or it feels like a massive chore. Whether you’re wasting too much time on Twitter and Facebook, or you can’t bring yourself to craft a single update, scheduling your statuses in advance can have a powerful effect on your overall social strategy.
Think you’re ready for the challenge? Use the following keys to maximize your social media impact and save time, too.
What is Status Scheduling?
Most casual social media users write statuses on a whim, uploading this information through the sites of their favorite social platforms. Heavy users and marketers instead rely on tools like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck.
These tools allow you to simultaneously update multiple accounts, shorten links, and schedule your statuses far in advance. It’s also worth noting that Twitter now allows business users to schedule tweets in advance through Twitter for Business.
A scheduled status looks just like a normal status, except it’s uploaded into the system in advance of its eventual publication. If you’re trying to keep your feed continually updated, you can schedule statuses to appear like clockwork every few hours or days, based on your unique social strategy.
Why to Schedule in Advance
Scheduling your regular updates in advance can help you save time and keep your social media accounts fresh. If you routinely go weeks without updating your social profiles, scheduling large blocks of updates several days in advance can help you stay on top of your strategy. Simply set your statuses to publish and forget about it.
Dos and Don’ts to Follow
Think you’re ready to start automating your updates? Before you jump in feet first, keep the following keys in mind:
● Do: Focus on evergreen content. Don’t write time-sensitive updates that won’t be relevant when they appear days later.
● Don’t: Automatically tweet to people who mention your brand. This feels inauthentic and spammy.
● Do: Smatter your relevant updates between scheduled statuses to keep your feed spontaneous.
● Don’t: Overlook the performance of your statuses. If you’re using a tool like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck, it’s easy to review how many people are clicking your links, favoriting your updates, and sharing your content with others.
● Do: Carefully consider when your statuses should appear. It’s smart to target users when they’re likely active on social media. Before work, lunchtime, and in the early evening are all great options.
Scheduling tweets and updates far in advance has some great applications. Use it to stick to a tight editorial calendar or schedule a bunch of statuses to update while you’re disconnected on a long vacation. Whatever you do, don’t allow automation to make you lazy. Continue to invest your best efforts into your social strategy and you’re bound to see results.
Plenty of brands successfully use automation to simplify their social media activities. While it may appear intimidating at first glance, learning to schedule updates is quite simple. If automation fits within your social strategy, pay attention to your social performance and continue making tweaks to ensure you’re getting the most out of your social media presence. Happy tweeting!