I’m thinking about containers and contents lately. We all love great containers. Last year, I went to a local shop and purchased a new hummingbird feeder crafted by an artist somewhere near Asheville. Instead of the plastic parts found on a standard retail feeder, this one has a very unique red bottle as a container. It is decorated with copper tubing from which the hummingbird drinks and metal flowers are soldered onto the copper. It is a real work of art, and I enjoy it tremendously.
I’m pretty sure the hummingbirds, however, care more about the content in the bottle. If I put something less to their liking in the bottle, it doesn’t matter how attractive the container. Not only will they not drink from it, they will eventually quit coming to that particular bottle. Birds are quick learners.
Don’t misunderstand – it really is important to use the right type of container or I will never attract the audience I’m seeking. In the case of my feeder, that audience is hummingbirds; in the case of your agency – travellers. But there is more to it than that.
We naturally spend a lot of time thinking about containers as travel agency marketers. Our containers are websites and newspaper advertising, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, newsletters and press releases. But what is equally true is that the content has to be right as well. We jump from PR efforts to newspaper ads to Facebook and Twitter in a frantic attempt to find the best medium to break through the noise and get our clients’ attention. But it’s not the medium that matters: It’s the message.
We tend to invest a lot of time and capital into our containers, into the media that we choose for our practice. What if we invested as much energy and effort into our message as we did in our containers? How do we get the message right?
Every marketing effort begins with the message you seek to convey. Ideally, that message is in line with your core values, the ones that define your brand. From that starting point you set goals for the marketing campaign and spend countless hours working to hone the message, analyzing the reasons that your readers will respond to it, binding the entire effort with whatever mutterings will generate both the conversation with your clients and the return you seek. You then mix together advertising copy and graphics, and the other visual elements of your brand. Then, and only then, you place it in the container (media) of your choice.
That is what you do, isn’t it?
If the message isn’t right, the audience’s response to the container is very short-lived. The message is the heart of the entire effort. The copy and visual elements that make your message incarnate deserve the same investment and attention as the media that you use to deliver it. Just placing an ad in a newspaper, posting a Facebook status update, writing another entry in your blog, or sending out one more e-mail broadcast is not sufficient. It is the message that impels your target audience to respond. You must speak to their needs, to their desires. You have to address their concerns about travel with genuine empathy. You have to engage your audience with your intelligence, skill and concern for there needs. It’s not enough to just show up.
Words are important, they drive results. Before your next post on Facebook, consider how what you are saying fits tactically into your business strategy. Pause for just a moment to see if the post is grounded in your mission statement.
Spend some time thinking about the messages you put into your bottles. If they are the right ones, your clients will lap it up.
Richard Earls is the Publisher of Travel Research Online, an online travel industry resource dedicated to enhancing the professional lives of travel agents.