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Thursday, 02 April 2020 13:26

Ideas On How To Promote Your Business If You Have 3 Weeks To Spare

Photo by Clark Tibbs on Unsplash Photo by Clark Tibbs on Unsplash Photo by Clark Tibbs on Unsplash

The first week our national lock-down is almost over, just 2 more weeks to go (hopefully). Shelldon from Country and Coastal Touring had some ideas on what you can do to promote your tourism business over the remaining two weeks of lock-down.

As we near the start of the 2nd week of our national lock-down, I (like many of you) can’t help but feel anxious about the future of my business, Country and Coastal Touring (CC Touring).

I started CC Touring as a family business along with my dad Charles, some 10 years ago now, and against all odds, managed to build a small but successful tourism operation. We slowly but surely gained the trust of international tourists, we ensured we offered the best service possible and maintained our 5 star ranking on various platforms like TripAdvisor, ToursByLocals and Google Reviews.

Fact is right now, to me it seems like all that hard work in building the CC Touring brand, the long days and hours spent in front of the computer to promote our small company; well, it all looks like it may have been for nothing. With many countries locking down their borders and our own lock-down, my tourism business (and likely yours) has seen business disappear, not just for the moment, but perhaps for a few months to come.

However, the current situation also reminds me of the early days of my business. It reminds me of all the effort that I was putting into marketing my small business, far more effort than I put into my marketing these days! Fact is, for many of us, this may actually be an opportunity to start marketing our companies the way we’re supposed to!

I’ve always followed the 80/20 rule; that 80% of my admin time should be spent on marketing. These days it’s easier to hit that target since there are so many tools available to help us manage our time, such as accounting and invoicing tools, booking software and so on.

Over the next two weeks I plane to re-invent my small business, to update my website, re-do my brochures and create an effective marketing plan to ensure that when travelers start booking again, my company is front and foremost, on their minds.

And here’s the simple truth...you can do the same quite easily yourself! Here’s some ideas to help get you started.

Blog Posts

 Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash

I say it all the time, blogging is hands down one of the most effective ways to ensure that people (and that includes Google) find your website. Naturally one of the first questions I get asked is, what to blog about. It’s not easy to answer that question, rather, I have a story.

Years ago when first starting out, I started blogging on my website about anything and everything. Quite quickly it become not only boring, but quite a chore to sit down and write out a blog post.

I then came across a brilliant online marketer named Neil Patel. Reading though his blog posts, I realised that I needed to produce content that was relevant for my audience. So, for me this meant content such as “Tips on enjoying a safari” or “Spending 3 days in Durban” since my clients were searching for safari tours or were visiting Durban.

What this meant is that people looking to visit Durban would most likely search for content related to their visits, things like “what to do” and “where to eat”. This was a revelation. The few blog posts I posted were instant hits that translated into actual bookings.

How does this translate to a Bed and Breakfast site, or similar? Start by considering your audience. What is it they want?

Few people search for “a bed and breakfast in 1000 Hills”, but they may search for “where to stay near the beach”. So if you’re a fan of the beach you could create a blog post about how often you go to the beach, how close it is 1000 Hills and how easy it is to get there as well as the benefits of staying in the 1000 Hills as opposed to the city.

How would this help? It’s simple, you’re putting your name right in front of a searches eyeballs, and that’s strong stuff.

How about if you’re a wedding organiser? It’s the same thing. Produce content that brides and grooms are likely to search for. Think about putting together a printable “to do list” for weddings, or publish a list of musicians, flower producers, photographers, wedding dress designers, etc, in your area that you have personally used and can recommend. One good strategy would be to reach out to those individuals and ask them to do the same and then link to your site.

If you start thinking in terms of what your potential clients are needing, it’s really easy to place yourself in front of them.

Don't consider yourself a writer or blogger? Need help on writing a blog post? There are freelance content producers who would be happy to assist. Simple get in touch with the author for more information.

Sharing is Caring

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Of course it’s not enough to just create blog posts, you need to share them as well. And this is where the “secret sauce” of marketing comes in. Out there are 3 free resources you absolutely need to take advantage of;

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter

Around 5 years ago I was getting back into golf again (I’m terrible at the sport but that’s not the point). While out on the course at Camelot, I took a picture of the Impala lying next to the green on hole 8. I posted the image on my Instagram account and made some sort of silly joke about how their lives were in jeopardy from errant 2nd shots but yet they seemed to be quite unconcerned. Out of that post, a chap got hold of me to chat about golfing in South Africa, and for the next 3 years, I hosted his 8-ball group on 5 day safari golf tours.

All of this, out of one Instagram post.

Many small business owners are unsure of how or even why to use these channels. The easiest answer as to “why” is;

You’re reaching out to every single possible market out there – even some you didn’t know existed.

But, what is the best strategy in using social media channels?

Every time you publish a blog post, you need to publish it on your social media channels. Luckily for those using WordPress, it’s actually pretty easy – there are plugins that will automate the process for you. If you’re not sure how to do it, or if you’re not sure whether you use WordPress, then get in touch with whomever is handling your website and ask them to do it.

Seriously, if you don’t do this, you are missing out on a free and effort free marketing avenue!

If you want to do dig a little deeper, you could start investigating hashtags that are popular. That way when you do write a blog post, or post anything to your social media account, you can append hashtags to the post to ensure it has a deep reach. For more about hashtags, follow these links;

Following Other Accounts on Social Media

If sharing was the “secret sauce” , then following accounts is the whole Michelin-star meal. Many people post Tweets, Instagram posts and Facebook posts over and over again yet fail to turn these follows into bookings and more importantly, Rands.

And the reason why is pretty simple...social media channels are about being social!

Spend a little time looking at the type of content people post and see what interests you. If you’re big in flower arranging, join a group and be social, offer advice, ask questions; essentially invest a little time. If it’s fishing you’re interested in, do the same, or quilting or whatever really.

It will take a little time but you’ll build up your own followers (although that is definitely not the point) and those followers will share to their followers and, their followers will share...and you get the point. In that online web of sharing and caring, business will follow – it’s a bit of a numbers game but it will pay off, it has for me.

The key is to find subjects that interest you and to go from there.

Scheduling

 Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash

I read a blog post on Forbes some time ago about a very successful individual who despite his difficult start in life (he was living on the streets of New York), went on to become a very wealthy trader on the stock exchange. When interviewed, he said the secret to his success was simply showing up day after day after day. The same can be said of marketing.

When I first started marketing Country and Coastal Touring I did everything right. I wrote a blog post twice a week come hell or high water, I posted regularly on Twitter and Instagram (despite my advice earlier, I’m not a Facebook fan) and I engaged as much as I could with internet groups.

And it worked, I was booking tours regularly even while my fellow tour guide colleagues weren’t. And then it all came started to slow down a bit; I stopped posting regularly. I can actually track how my bookings slowed down as soon as I stopped producing content!

Here’s the thing, Google (and other search engines) want and like consistency, as do most people out there. Now this doesn’t mean you have to post 10 times a week, or twenty or even 3 times a week. What it does mean is that regardless of the number of items you post, you need to do it regularly.

So if you choose to post once a month, there’s perfectly fine. Just make sure you post at least once a month, preferably on the same day every month and make sure that whatever you post will be helpful to those that end up reading it.

So choose to post once a week, or once every second week, or even 3 times a week; it doesn’t really matter, what is important is that you do it on a schedule, and that whatever you post is useful!

One of the great things about scheduling is the fact that there are many online tools to help. Very often I’ll write 4 or so blog posts in the first week of the month, and then schedule them to be posted online once a week. I use Buffer for this, but there are other options (WordPress has a built-in scheduler); here are some great options with links;

That's All Folks

The next few months are not going to be easy as we all rebuild our businesses, but if we continue to look towards the light at the end of the tunnel and find in this downtime opportunities to grow, then who knows, we may even come out of this stronger than before!

 

 

Want To Contribute?

We would love to hear from our members on how they are dealing with the current situation. If you're keen to share some tips on marketing, or would even like to share more about your business, feel free to get in touch! Simply send an email into us and we'll go from there.

Shelldon

Hi! My name is Shelldon Wells and I'm a tour operator based in the Valley of 1000 Hills. Not only do I manage Country and Coastal Touring and take guests on tours, but I often write about the Valley of 1000 Hills as well as subjects such as the battlefields of KwaZulu-Natal, fly-fishing and more (I clearly do not own a TV!). It just so happens that for my sins I am also the Vice-Chairperson of the 1000 Hills Community Tourism Organisation (for 2020) and serve on a number of tourism related associations.

 

 Follow me on Twitter or Instagram.

https://www.cctouring.co.za

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