One of the biggest sins of marketing is being generic.
While having a clear point of difference is the first step to avoiding this, the second step is knowing exactly who you are selling to. From there, you focus every aspect of your marketing energy around that target audience.
Operators who go for 18-25 year olds seem to get this best. They have photos of their guests having a crazy time and use edgy fonts all over their marketing. Guess what happens next? They get bookings from 18-25 year-olds! Additionally, people will take their cues as to whether your tour is for them from the photos they see of other people on the same tour.
For example, I was looking at the website of an Italian hiking guide recently. All the photos and testimonials showed him with outdoorsy 45-60 year-olds. This demonstrates exactly who his business was for.
He didn’t fall into the trap of trying to appear ‘youthy’ with photos of 25-35 year old young things plastered all over his site. He’d probably have a lot of difficulty getting many of those 50-60 year olds who are his bread and butter! Sure, I wouldn’t personally book with the company – I’ve still got a ways to go to fit in with his herd– but that doesn’t matter. If he chose to focus on no one, who would have been keen to book with him? No one.
The three steps to targeting your herd:
1. Ask yourself: what do members of your herd look like? If you offer physical activities, sometimes people will shy away from them because they think the tour is for exercise nuts, most especially if all your advertising is full of photos of fit young people. One tour operator I was working with had this exact problem. He would get a lot of questions about whether his mountain biking days were too strenuous for children or middle-aged people. The solution? Put up a photo right in the center on his website of a middle-aged guest enjoying the tour with their child. A picture speaks a thousand words.
2. Describe your true ideal customer in extreme detail. Think about the guest that without fail LOVES your company and fits perfectly with what you’re doing. Who is that person? Write a profile out. How old are they? Where are they from? What do they like doing? How do they make buying decisions? What are their fears when traveling? What social network do they use? What do they do when they’re not with you? What’s their occupation?
3. Write all of your marketing copy directly to that person and use imagery that would appeal to them. Avoid the mistake of addressing your words to an unspecified group. Groups of people don’t read your website or your brochure – individuals do. All of your marketing copy should be written as if you were writing directly to that individual. Imagine you were physically writing a message on Facebook to that person. You’d do it a bit differently than if you were using typical boring corporate speak.
You should notice an uptick in business from the category you are targeting. It’s part of your point of difference as a company and will save you time AND generate more sales.
Knowing your herd guides you in everything, not just the photos you put on your site. If you are targeting a 40-50 year old market who tends to like small group experiences, I doubt you will waste much time building relationships with youth hostels or business focused hotel groups. Naturally, what you’d be doing is trying to build relationships with business owners who in and of themselves fit your target market, because they will be able to see your value proposition better than anyone.
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