Need to Close More Hotel Sales? Try Implementing These Two Marketing Tactics
By Jennifer Nagy, President of JLNPR Inc.
I remember when I was launching my PR agency, JLNPR, I experienced a 24/7 rollercoaster of emotions: mostly, excitement and hope but also, a lot of fear and worry. Even though I knew my niche - the hospitality tech industry - inside and out, had many years of experience and knew that I could enact real change to companies' bottom line using public relations (because I'd already done it for many tech companies), that didn't change the fact that I felt panicked when I realized that, this time, I'd be doing it ALL on my own.
(Does any of this sound familiar to you?)
And then, one day I stopped myself, mid-panic, because I realized something very important: "Of course I will be successful; all I need to do is apply the same PR tactics that I'd used to boost other companies' visibility, shorten their sales cycles and increase sales, to my own fledgling business."
Nine years later (this July), I'm still here, running a successful PR agency, feeling proud to have worked with so many innovative companies who have developed technologies that have revolutionized hotels' operational processes.
If any of my early experiences ring true to what you're feeling, keep reading because I'm going to share the two marketing tactics that I used to find success in the hospitality industry.
Before we get started on the tactics I used, I want to reinforce one VERY important point, which should be in the back of your mind when planning or executing any marketing activities:
More Visibility = More Sales
It's really that simple. Hotels can't buy your solution if they don't know it exists. They won't if they don't know why it's better than the competition's.
This simple principle is why PR is the best way to affect real change in your current sales conversion rate; it is a marketing tool that is designed specifically to increase awareness of your company and solution in the hotel industry. It gets you in front of the exact people who might, one day very soon, be your first customer (or your 500th!).
I'll say it one more time to make sure it has really sunk in: More Visibility = More Sales.
So, here's where we get to the really good stuff: what did I do to build JLNPR into the well-known hospitality technology PR agency that it is today?
The answer is a combination of two marketing tactics: public relations (you knew that was coming, right?) + content marketing. These two tactics are the only ones that I've used in my nine years of business to find and sign new clients. Sounds crazy, right?
It is crazy… but also, true. These two tactics alone are enough to significantly boost a company's visibility and perceived expertise in the hospitality industry. (What was that lesson that we learned earlier about the value of visibility??)
I did all of that without spending a single dollar on advertising, digital marketing, social media, exhibiting at industry conferences or events, or any of the tactics that other marketers swear by - and, the best part, I did it all by myself.
That's how I KNOW that you can do the same for your business.
Instead of spreading yourself too thin by using ALL the marketing tactics that other "experts" are touting, stick to what works best in the hospitality industry: public relations + content marketing. Remember, the hospitality industry trade media market is very unique - and its differences are the reason that these two tactics, alone, are so effective at boosting visibility and sales for tech vendors.
(Of course, if you have all the time in the world to spend on your company's marketing, there are other tactics that can prove useful and compound your company's visibility; however, the reality is that most entrepreneurs are already working super long hours, day and night, just to keep their business afloat so why add extra stress and work to an already overflowing plate?)
I mentioned earlier that the hotel industry was the ideal industry in which to use the combination of PR + content marketing - and you're probably wondering why. Unlike trade (B2B) publications in other industries, many hospitality trade publications accept well-written, vendor-neutral articles that provide tangible knowledge or tricks (of the trade) to their audience - as well as doing the coverage that is traditionally found in trade publications in other industries.
This might not sound like a big deal but, in fact, it is HUGE; it is the main reason that PR and content marketing are the only marketing tactics that you need to increase your company's visibility in the hospitality industry. Before I explain why, let's do a quick recap of what PR and content marketing are so that you have a better understanding of how each, used in combination, can create a dramatic increase in your company's profitability.
First, What Is Public Relations (PR)?
It is the practice of managing the interaction of your company with its various publics - both internal (i.e. employees, shareholders, investors, etc.) and external (i.e. potential customers, community, etc.).
For technology vendors who are trying to sell their solutions to hotels, the type of public relations that you will be using is media relations, which is focused specifically on communicating the company's news, key messages, industry expertise and the solution's unique selling proposition (and MUCH more…) to media to secure media coverage. To a potential customer, reading an article that mentions your company or an interview with your company's spokesperson is an endorsement of your company or solution by a trusted, third-party expert (the journalist/publication); the result: increased trust in your company.
More media coverage also creates more visibility - and helps you to more effectively deliver your business' key messages and solution's key differentiators - to potential hotel customers.
Now, What Is Content Marketing?
Content marketing involves creating insightful, engaging and interesting content, designed to educate potential customers, build credibility, trust and loyalty, and increase opportunities for future business. In practice, content marketing can use many different types of written copy, including blog posts, expert articles, among many others.
If your end-goal is to close more sales (which, let's be real, is every company's desired goal), the most effective type of written content is expert articles, published by hospitality industry trade media.
Your content marketing outreach helps you to deliver your key messages in EXACTLY the way that you want them delivered (because your expert articles will be published as is). By drafting articles that deliver your company's key messages and indirectly sell your solution, while educating readers (don't forget to share actionable tips!), your company will build credibility with potential customers, establish a position of expertise and will be perceived as even more trustworthy.
That brings us back to why the hospitality industry trade media market's differences are so important: if you can secure both media placements (written by journalists, a.k.a. third-party experts) that feature or mention your company/solution AND successfully publish your expert articles in the top hotel industry trade publications, your visibility will skyrocket.
The increased visibility, the perception of expertise and the strong sense of trust potential customers have in your company WILL increase your conversion rates and help you close more sales - even with cold leads.
(In other words, more visibility = more sales. Should I say it one more time for the cheap seats in the back?!)
So How Do You Get Started?
There are two ways that you can move forward on implementing a PR and content marketing strategy for your company: hiring a PR agency to handle the work for you (expensive!!) OR doing it yourself.
I know, I know… you probably have NO idea how to launch your own campaign but I'm here to reassure you: you don't need a PR agency to execute bottom-line boosting PR and content marketing campaigns. In fact, you (or one of your employees) can handle ALL of your company's PR work internally at a fraction of the cost of working with a PR agency for a single month.
Surprised? I don't blame you; it's a secret that most PR agencies don't want you to know!!
If you choose the DIY approach, you should start by learning more about both PR and content marketing, including step-by-step instructions on how to accomplish the specific, day-to-day activities that your PR person will handle.
Don't worry, there's no need to go back to college to learn more about PR and content marketing; instead, I recommend taking an online course that will teach you EVERYTHING you need to know about PR and content marketing and provide step-by-step instructions on how to execute your campaigns.
Look for a course that teaches strategies for B2B companies, as B2C companies' strategies are executed differently, making it less likely that you will accomplish your end-goal (to boost sales of your tech solution to hotels!). And, of course, look for a course that was created specifically for companies in the hospitality industry, as it will communicate exactly what to do, and when, to generate the most visibility and close the most sales of your technology solution to hotels.
Remember, PR + content marketing are the ONLY marketing tactics that hotel tech start-ups and small businesses need to close their first sale… and the hundreds more that will follow.
Cheers to your business' success!
Jennifer NagyMore from Jennifer Nagy